Motivating your teen is no easy feat at the best of time and, after a turbulent year, it might be even trickier. There’s no doubt that the recent lockdown restrictions have impacted everyone, but it’s been particularly difficult for teenagers and young people. With limited opportunities to interact with friends, uncertainty over exams and home-schooling to contend with, it’s not surprising that millions of teens are showing signs of apathy.
However, there are ways you can help your teen to overcome the challenges this year has brought and get them motivated again. Whether they need a little push with revision, help getting out of bed in the morning or just enough to vigour to pick up their own socks, these top eleven tips will help you to motivate your teen and keep them moving:
Here’s how to motivate your teen
1. Give Them an Outlet
Many (or most) teenagers are reluctant to confide in their parents about issues with school, friendships and relationships, but it’s important that your teen feels able to confide in you if they want to. At a time when it’s hard for them to interact with anyone but you, it’s especially important to give them an outlet for their worries and anxieties.
Sometimes, feeling that you’re being listened to is enough to help you reduce your stress levels and reset your mind. Even if your teen just wants to have a moan about how unfair the last year has been, let them. You may not be able to offer a complete solution to their problems, but you can be a valuable sounding board and let them unload their frustrations in a healthy way.
Following this, they’ll have a clean slate and renewed sense of purpose, which is the perfect time to capture their imagination and remotivate them.
2. Take the Pressure Off
If you’re expecting perfection, there’s a good chance you’re going to be disappointed. No-one (of any age) can live up to unrealistic expectations and putting too much pressure on your teen could backfire. Similarly, if your teen is putting themself under too much pressure, help them to understand that they don’t have to achieve highly in everything they do. Sometimes, it really is the taking part the accounts and doing something because you enjoy it, rather than become you’re good at it, can be a great way to have fun and relax.
3. Implement a Reward Scheme
If you ever used a sticker chart to reward your kid when he or she was a toddler, you’ll already be familiar with this tactic. Of course, chances are, stickers won’t quite cut it when your child reaches their teenage years. However, a purchase of their choice from a sneakers outlet, their favourite takeaway or free reign of the remote control can be enough of an incentive to help them put a bit more effort into home or school life. When you give teens something to look forward to or a material reward, it can have a major impact on their motivation and determination. In a year when the goalposts are constantly shifting for young people, having a clear reward on offer can make a big difference to their behaviour.
4. Be Clear About the Rules
Although it’s been a tough year for everyone and a little compassion is certainly in order, you don’t have to let your house rules go out of the window altogether. Kids may like to push the boundaries, but they thrive when there are clear rules in place, and they know what’s expected of them. As things have been a little different over the last few months, there’s a good chance your house rules have been upended at times. However, making your expectations clear, setting out fair punishments and following through with them will help to impose some certainty and get your teen back on track.
5. Give Them Some Control
If you are going to re-implement house rules, now is a good time to give your teen some control and let them have some input when you decide how your home is going to be run. People are more likely to get on board with a new routine if they have a hand in creating it. Instead of dictating to your teen, ask them to think about what chores they think they should be responsible for and what rules they think are appropriate. You don’t necessarily have to agree with all of their suggestions but giving them a little bit of control and letting them make some decisions can give them a much-needed sense of responsibility and accountability.
6. Help with Time Management
Learning to manage your time effectively can be a tricky process and it’s something that many adults have yet to master. However, it’s an important life lesson and you can help your teen to succeed in anything when they have good time management skills.
Make sure your teen has access to a paper or electronic calendar, so they can keep track of important dates and deadlines. There are plenty of free time management apps which can help to manage workflows and inspire motivation, so talk to your teen about which one would work best for them. You can even create a family login and create schedules for every member of your household. By doing so, you’ll be able to keep an eye on your teen’s time management without being accused of nagging and can update their household tasks when you see fit.
7. Plan a Post-Lockdown Itinerary
With limited things to do in lockdown, it’s not surprising that so many people are finding it hard to get motivated. However, the vaccine rollout is well underway and there is already talk of lifting some restrictions. To help get your teen back into the swing of normal life, start planning a post-lockdown itinerary.
Ask them about places they’d like to visit or events they’d like to attend and get a plan in place to make it happen. Once your teen knows you’re on board and that they’ve got things to look forward to, they’ll be motivated in other areas of their life too.
8. Encourage Social Interaction
Your teen may not be able to hang out with friends face-to-face or go to parties, but this doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy some social interactions. Video chats and virtual get-togethers are still the safest option, so encourage your teen to plan social events with friends online. While restricting screen time can be a good way of stopping teens getting distracted, the unprecedented constraints of this year might mean it’s time to relax the rules surrounding screen time if you haven’t already.
9. Provide Positive Reinforcement
Everyone enjoys being told they’ve done a good job or that their efforts are appreciated, and this applies to teens too. Although your teenager may not show their delight at being celebrated, it won’t go unnoticed. When they do something well or put some effort in, be sure to thank them, congratulate them or comment on how well they’ve done.
Teens usually get positive reinforcement from their peers and teachers too, but this may be lacking due to the current lockdown. Due to this, it might be beneficial to increase the amount of positive reinforcement you give.
10. Implement a Routine
With schools closed and usual activities on hold, everyone’s routine has been upended. Of course, when teens don’t have anything to get up for, they’re likely to spend all day in bed before being up all night. If they’re not getting enough good quality sleep, it will show in their mood and energy levels, which is why a consistent routine can help to turn things around.
Again, allow your teenager to have some input when you’re creating a routine and don’t be too ambitious. If your teen doesn’t have to log on for school until midday, why make them get up at 7 am? Instead, come up with a compromise that still allows them to have a lie-in but means they won’t waste the day in bed.
11. Make Goals Realistic
Every parent would love it if their teen regularly cleaned up after themselves, never answered back and frequently made meals for the whole family but, for most teens, this is probably a little too much to expect.
By reassessing your expectations and making goals achievable, you can help your teen to feel more accomplished. In turn, this will spark their motivation and help them to make positive changes. Whether it’s bringing mugs down from their room before mould starts to grow on them, getting their schoolwork done every day or completing their chores by a certain time, small, sustainable goals are often the key to long-term progress.
Keep Your Teen on Track
With so much to contend with, it’s important that teens have the option to talk to someone when they want to open up. Whether it’s a parent, friend or counsellor, sharing their worries and seeking advice can be a cathartic process. Combined with a regular routine, support at home and a little bit of independence, this can keep your teen on track and keep them motivated.