“What can I do to motivate my teen?” This is one of the questions that I get asked the most. But first, we should be asking ourselves, “Why do I want to motivate my teen?”

“Motivation is a fickle friend. It’s here one day and gone the next. I find that determination is a stubbornly powerful emotion that helps me accomplish my biggest goals whether I’m motivated or not.”
~ Ben Pugh

“All kids need is a little help, a little hope, and someone who believes in them.”
~ Magic Johnson

Definition of Motivation (according to Google)

Motivation: noun
1. the reason or reasons one has for acting or behaving in a particular way.
2. the general desire or willingness of someone to do something.

Motivate: verb
1. provide (someone) with a motive for doing something.
2. stimulate (someone’s) interest in or enthusiasm for doing something.

Motive: noun
1. a reason for doing something, especially one that is hidden or not obvious.

I think it’s important to remember that the motivation that we want to give to our teens is an emotion. We can’t give someone else an emotion. We can’t make someone else feel something. Other people’s emotions are dependent upon their own thoughts and beliefs.

Why do you want to motivate your teen?

This is a powerful question and one that I have to remind myself of often.

I’ve found that when I want to motivate my teen, it’s because I want him to do life differently. I want HIM TO CHANGE.

This has been consistent with the parents who are looking for help motivating their teens. They want to motivate them to be different and to do things differently.

It’s important to be aware of what we really want when we want to motivate our teens. It’s powerful to get clear on what we want and to understand why we want it.

Here’s some examples:

I want to motivate my teen to work harder at school.” WHY? “Because good grades are important to us.” WHY? “Because I’m worried that if he doesn’t get good grades he will limit his possibilities.” WHY? “I don’t like feeling worried.”

Understanding the examples above helps us understand why we want to motivate our teens. Yes, we want them to experience success. Yes, we want them to have high standards. BUT, it’s also important to remember that we have our own selfish reasons behind our desire to motivate them as well. For example we want them to be doing something “better.” We don’t want to have to worry about them.

Usually, when we want to motivate our teens, it’s because we think they “SHOULD” be doing something differently.

So, when it comes to motivating a teen, what can I do?

I’m so glad you asked. When it comes to parents wanting to motivate their teens, there’s a handful of things that I recommend.

  • Understand what your motives are.
    • Why do you want to motivate them?
    • What’s in it for you?
  • Remember what your role is.
    • We’ve talked on past podcasts about knowing your role.
    • Love them unconditionally
    • Provide for their needs.
  • Define what’s within your control.
    • My thoughts
    • My emotions
    • My actions
  • Define what’s within your teen’s control.
    • Their thoughts
    • Their emotions
    • Their actions
  • Use positive and negative consequences.
    • I like to be very heavy-handed on the positives
    • Let them have a say as to what positive and negative consequences motivate them.
  • Support thoughts and beliefs that create motivation and determination.

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