It’s not impossible to motivate your teenager.
This week we talked with academic coach Hayden Lee who specialize in working with teenagers and families. If there is anything we’ve learned from them, it’s that teenagers have the tremendous potential to surprise not only you, but themselves as well.
In most cases, though, that surprising ability doesn’t happen magically. It takes a discerning parent, guardian or educator to draw out the awesome which lies just beneath the surface of their teenager’s rather disinterested gaze.
1. Identify a short-term goal
While it may sound deliciously idealistic to help your teenager create a massive goal that doesn’t seem possible, academic coach Hayden Lee says taking small steps is a great way to increase the likelihood your teenager will follow through on his or her goal.
Creating a short-term goal makes the goal more manageable.
“Creating a short-term goal makes the goal more manageable,” Lee said. “Using the school calendar is a good marker.”
As an example, Hayden said using the end of the semester is a great goal for students who want to raise their grades.
2. Figure out what your teenager needs to transform in himself or herself.
Once the goal is set in place, your teenager can compare what that goal requires to their current state of mind, pattern of thinking or habitual actions.
Identify what change that you need to make in yourself in order to make that goal easier to achieve.
In most cases, there will be a disconnect between the desired goal – in this case, getting better grades by the end of the semester – and the desired behavior to reach that goal.
“Identify what change you need to make in yourself in order to make that goal easier to achieve,” Lee said.
In the case of his example (the student who wants to raise his or her grades by the end of the semester), the student might realize they have to take school more seriously in order to reach their goal.
3. Discover the “how” of your goal.
Goals are a great thing to have, Lee said, but they have a tendency to be vague. They might answer the question of “What?” but they don’t always answer the question of “How?”
Answering the “how” aspect of your goal can be just as important as the goal itself.
Start making concrete and specific action steps that are within your control.
“Start making concrete and specific action steps that are within your control that will contribute toward your goal,” Lee said. “Using the example above, since the teen wants to improve his grades and wants to put in more effort in school, his action step can be to write in his planner every day and to plan out exactly what time he will begin homework during the week.
4. Plan out what you’ll do after school
It’s easy to lose sight of a goal if you aren’t reminded of it every day through intentional, direct planning.
This principle carries over into the life of your teenager. Reaching their goal will be much easier if they have a constant sense of direction and purpose – planning each school day is an invaluable asset to this sense of forward movement.
It’s much easier to stay motivated when you know exactly what to do and when to do it.
“It’s much easier to stay motivated when you know exactly what to do and when to do it,” Lee said. “Encourage your teenager to use a planner every day in every class in which to write down their homework and to plan out how they will spend their time after school.”
One of the best ways to do this is to have your teenager set aside time on Sunday night to do most of the planning. With planner in hand, they can write out their schedule for each day, including what homework/project is due and what they’ll accomplish after school.
Need a Little More Motivational Wisdom?
Hayden Lee’s step-by-step strategy, “Sustaining Motivation”, gives you and your teenager nine quick videos which can help you both maintain your motivation for the things in which you want to succeed.