Top tips to motivate your teenage child - Part 2

My teenager always questions everything. How do I answer the 'why' of all his questions? My teen and I are forever arguing; he doesn't listen to me. How can I motivate my teen? Is that a familiar pattern? Let's help you find ways to motivate your child without getting into arguments.

I wrote about how to motivate teenagers and am continuing with where I left. Why would your teen even want to take your suggestion of trying to focus on what you want him to do? The thoughts in his mind would probably be, 'My parents want me to focus on my studies, but why must I show the same kind of interest for studies that I have for playing the guitar?' And, he's probably going to shoot a 'Why?' at you.

You're likely to find this interesting because of the 'Why?' which brings us back to typical teenage behaviour. It is when you need to stress why the child needs to concentrate on his studies as well. Before I continue, let me remind you that through all this, you should not undermine his love for whatever it is that he likes doing. Don't take him away from what he wants, instead guide him towards what he doesn't.

At this point, agree and recognise his passion for playing the guitar and that the comparison with studies is not the same. Your goal is to build trust and bring him on the same page as you. He'll rebel, and you'll lose him if at this point you go on a tangent about his passion being a waste of time. You have to win him over and do it subtly.

You'll have his attention provided you maintain your calm. Try something like, 'I know you're passionate about playing the guitar, which is a good thing, but studies are important, to go to college'. What you want to communicate to him is that he must create a balance. Every child aspires of being in college, so you're just showing him a way that he can get there.

At some point, ask him about his dream college, and then connect it to admission and good grades. Add that you know he can achieve his dreams; he needs to push himself. Your son may dream of becoming a pilot or joining the Armed Forces; the key is that academics count. He can continue with his passion on the side, emphasise on the idea of short-term focus for long-term gain.

The value of education

When I was actively involved in teaching; I helped many students shift their focus from friends and fun-times to academics. They were the 'difficult' students, but with a bit of guidance, they came back right on track.

My approach was to understand them and gain their confidence. I didn't blame their need to be with friends or to be troublesome and mischievous. I didn't judge them for what they did instead focused on what they could do. I built the relationship based on their abilities rather than their inabilities. You kick off on a good start when you share that kind of relationship with your child.

Over time, I stressed that they had it in them to prove their detractors wrong. I focused on the fact that the world looks at failures as losers and quitters. And that it's not about faring well because someone else expects it of them, but because they can. Board exam results aren't a measure of who they were, but that's the only measure the world sees. And they don't want to miss out on opportunities because of one decision – it's not worth it.

They had their whole life ahead of them for friends and fun and frolic. They need to give just a few months of their time to do things that the world deems necessary. And it worked, every time.

'Sacrifice giving up something of value in the present to attain something better in the future.'

Taking motivation a step forward

A child who has been distracted and not focused will find it difficult to fall in line suddenly. He will have trouble because he missed the opportunity to grasp the fundamentals of the subjects. He may detest Maths, but be fine with history dates. How do you motivate them in such a scenario?

Accept the child's views; he knows best about his likes and dislikes. All of us have our likes and dislikes, we do gravitate more towards certain things, so this is normal. You at least have a conversation going. Now that you know the child's weakness and strengths, you can always work ways to get your child to like math or overcome his shortcomings.

Shift the aim to how you can make the child cope in subjects that he is lagging. How can he succeed despite his limitations? Maybe he won't come out at the top of the class, but if you work with him now, he'll hit a decent mark. Continue to show your confidence in him. It has a psychological effect and makes the child give it all he has got. Don't be discouraged with the slow progress, and instil belief in the child that he can achieve high goals with a little bit of dedication. Let the child believe that you see a winner in him, and he will come out a winner. Don't give up and don't let him quit.

Teens with low self-esteem

Not all teens are lazy and uninterested or move in the wrong company. Some lack confidence. They are unsure of their abilities. They try but become overwhelmed and nervous. They don't possess the strategies to cope under pressure, and the fear of failure grips them. Such teens fail to achieve even when they try; their anxieties take over.

Most often, this stems from the pressures they face. Parents expect their children to excel in everything. They want to clear NEET and JEE and become IAS officers. They push them beyond limits, enrol them in coaching classes. They also want them to excel in extra-curricular activities, so there is a whole lot of training involved there too. In this chase of dreams, the child loses his childhood.

I think parents must set realistic goals and after knowing the child's interest. Is there any point in making a child take piano lessons when he's not interested in it or make him prepare for NEET when he is interested in studying Mass Communication? Parents must stop interfering with what the child wants to do. They must be the child's support system and not someone who quashes their dreams.

Help your child set realistic goals and help him achieve them. Help him hone his talent, let him study what he wants, even if that means studying commerce instead of science. Don't attach too much importance to what you dream for your child, focus on what your child is good at, and what he likes.

Help him build confidence, make it your purpose. Don't realise your dreams through your child – if you couldn't make it to IIT don't push your child to get that coveted seat. In doing so, you suppress him, and it kills his morale and crushing him.

Do's and don'ts

The do's and don'ts are not about what you or your child needs to do and not to do. All our lives, we focus on the 'to do lists' and lose sight of things that we should not be doing. Both are equally important, and it is time to make a 'not to do' list.

Make a list for yourself and follow it. Include things that you do, which are counterproductive, for instance, yelling and nagging, having high expectations, forcing choices on the child and any other thing that you do.

Have your child make a list too, give him a free hand to write down the things that he does not want to do. Next, compare what he has written with his goals. Follow it with a discussion, analyse things that need to be struck off the lists, to enable the goals to become a reality.

For example, the child does not want to train for basketball, something that you insist he does. It is not important really, so let the child keep his decision. The child has listed does not want to attend physics tuition, but it conflicts with his goal of becoming an engineer. Ask him why he doesn't like to participate in coaching. There could be a valid reason, work out something suitable. The child wants to learn swimming, and it's on the, 'to do list', but his schedule is choc block, come to a compromise – he can join the training camp during his summer break.

You should be to help the child realise what he should prioritise. Help him narrow down on what is essential. It is easier to work with a child when he is part of the planning. Things can get stressful when you decide everything for him. Work with him, for him and not work for him without him.


Author: Umesh16 Jul 2019 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 8

A very nice article to bring the child on the right track with thoughtful and prudent ways. It is very true that the mind of a child is a tender receptor and any forceful or pressurising technique is not going to work there. It will simply make him silent or introvert. We have to involve the child in taking his decisions with our guidance and direction but not as per our whims. This is a very important point and many parents do not understand this crucial aspect of child or teenager management.

Once the child finds that he has to give reasoning or clearly show his interests or disliking for the things then he becomes a bit alert in talking and mentioning those things with the parents as he knows that he will be responsible for any dual talk on those things made by him. That is the beauty of participation and the parents must take mileage out of it. We have to treat the child in a friendly manner and ask him the things he wants to prioritise or ignore. Taking him into confidence we have to slowly explain the pros and cons of a particular decision and when he is convinced then only ask him his revised feeling about the matter. In most of the cases, the child will come back to the choice offered by the parents. It is all easy to say that but it actually requires a lot of patience and endurance to deal with the teenagers in that fashion. Parents have to learn it if they want that their children should be aligned to proper directions in their studies or other useful activities.

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