Motivating Your Teen to Do Better In School

We have all heard it before: "Get a good education and you can go anywhere in life" This statement has never been more true. A good education is becoming the foundation for most jobs. So what happens when your child is just not excited about school? How, as parents, do you determine what is holding your child back? How do you remove those roadblocks and motivate him or her? Here are some ideas...

Parents, having hindsight, understand that academic performance provides a foundation for life. We have seen the connection between academic performance and success in the workplace first hand. However, this is not as easily understood by teenagers. Teens usually don't know what they want, much less why they want it. As parents, it's up to us to guide our children and help them reach their highest level of achievement. This can be a challenging but rewarding process, and the most important thing a parent can understand in order to succeed is what motivates their child.

Helping Your Teen Succeed

As the parent of a teen, and after having taught teens for several years, I am sure of one thing - even the most blasé and bored teenagers, even those with a 'bad' attitude, want to succeed. A lot of teens have an idea of where they want to go in life; they just don't know how to get there. You can motivate your teen by:

  • Showing them organizational techniques
  • Helping them establish relationships with their teachers
  • Being available when they need help in school
  • Making sure they have the resources they need

Most of the time, teenagers are held back by fears of failure and inadequacy caused by lack of motivation or a solid support system. Parent can help teens find their motivation and can provide that support.

Understanding and Addressing Teen Fears

It's difficult for any parent to see the hidden fears their teen won't talk about. This hidden fear can result from a lack of confidence, but is usually interpreted as defiance or lack of concern. If your child doesn't participate in sports at school, is it because she just isn't interested or does she have a fear of being laughed at? She may be concerned about her weight or that she will look silly running and jumping. Appearances are everything to teens, and the fear of looking bad or not performing well can prevent them from attempting some activities.

Fear can develop from these very common circumstances:

  • Personality clashes with teacher or friends
  • A genuine learning disability
  • Feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem
  • Lack of goals or good study habits

By addressing these fears, you have found the key to motivating your child. Acknowledge that these fears exist and find solutions for them.

If your child is struggling with a particular teacher, help them examine the situation and determine the root of the problem. Maybe your teen needs to read her text book, make it a habit to consider all aspects of a problem, practice more, or stop daydreaming so that she can avoid silly mistakes. If your teen has a legitimate complaint, offer to speak to the principal or to the teacher. Your child must not feel like a victim, but they should not be self-righteous either, thinking that the teacher is wrong just because she has punctured his or her ego. Help them examine what the teacher says in an objective light and then move on.

Your child could also be under pressure from their peer group to be cool and not care about their grades. Tread with caution because at this age friends seem dearer than family, especially parents. One way to counter this is to buy him books that you know he will enjoy. Once he is interested he is likely to continue reading regularly. Also encourage your teen to participate in activities that will introduce him to a more positive peer group.

Poor attention span, poor reading skills, and the inability to express yourself verbally or in writing need to be referred to professional educational psychologists. If a problem is diagnosed and corrective steps are taken, you will be able to show your child just how far they can go. With a clear goal in sight and a few positive options for their future, he is likely to make the best of the situation and keep moving forward doing his best.

A lot of teens feel they are not tall enough, thin enough, pretty enough or smart enough. The feeling may eat away at her causing tremendous unhappiness and prevent her from succeeding. Being rejected by a love interest or a friend can be devastating to a teen's motivation. They will feel they are not worth working hard and succeeding. In this situation, help them write a list of their qualities and drawbacks. Typically, the list of drawbacks is longer than the list of qualities. Show them that all the drawbacks listed are essentially aspects of only one issue (which is generally the case). Tell her that her drawbacks constitute only a small part of her total personality, and she should accept and love herself. Having confidence in your self and knowing that you are loved unconditionally by your parents can give teens the confidence to accomplish anything.

When teens don't have a goal to go after, help them find a direction. Being stuck in the middle-of-the-road can keep your teen from investigating their interests or discovering new ones. A solid academic goal, even if it is a broad goal, can help motivate your teen and improve their performance. Have your child complete a good aptitude test that gives him a look into his potential and strengths. This will help them streamline their thought process and arrive at a goal. With a goal in sight, hard work and success follow.

Fast Facts About Adolescents

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, accounting for 36 percent of all deaths in this age group. According to the American Automobile Association, teenage drivers account for only 7 percent of the driving population but are involved in 14 percent of fatal crashes. Troubled Teen Girl

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