As a mum, your child’s teenage years are likely to be some of the most challenging of all – and one of the greatest challenges before you is likely to be that of preparing your child for adulthood. How do you motivate your teen to study, get good grades, volunteer, take part in extracurricular activities and do all the other zillions of things that need to be done before graduation? Let’s discuss 3 different strategies for motivating your teen to prepare for adulthood:
1. Reward Responsible Behaviour
Most teens have a strong desire to be perceived as an adult. This is something mums can leverage to everyone’s mutual benefit. When your child acts as a responsible adult, treat him as such. Responsible adult behaviour should promptly be rewarded with profuse praise at the least, and perhaps even more tangible rewards when appropriate.
This will involve giving your teen some freedom to make his own decisions. He will also have to bear the consequences of the decisions he makes.
Of course, you can be there for him to offer guidance if he specifically asks for your help. But if he doesn’t ask for it, it’s ideal if you can back off and let him handle the decision-making and the consequences on his own whenever possible.
2. Avoid Nagging
Has nagging ever motivated anyone, anywhere to want to take action?
So don’t stoop to nagging, because it probably won’t work.
Instead, take a lesson from the world’s best salespeople. Excellent salespeople are vivid storytellers. They paint word pictures and invoke the imagination. They have a way of making their clients feel like heroes. People end up wanting to buy from them because they are adept at motivating their prospects to imagine, understand and identify with what’s in it for them if they buy the product the salesperson is selling.
As a mum, you aren’t selling a product to your child as a salesperson would. However, you could think of yourself as being in the business of selling ideas. And, you can paint word pictures helping your teen to envision himself in the hero’s role, just as the salesperson does with prospective buyers.
Let’s say you want to motivate your teen to consider enroling in a work experience program. Instead of nagging him about it, the proper course of action would be to tell a story about the work experience you want him to consider and the resulting benefit he could be expected to obtain from it.
Work experience doesn’t exactly sound like the most fun thing a teen could be spending his time on. He needs to be made to understand exactly what’s in it for him. The more compelling a story you can tell, the likelier he is to understand and take action. It’s that simple.
At the same time, you have to understand that he might not want to take action on your suggestions, no matter how compelling your presentation of them might be.
3. Resist the Urge to Plan His Future for Him
It is understandable that you want your teen to be successful. Perhaps you want him to go to university, and perhaps there’s even a career path you’re hoping he’ll choose.
But these are not your decisions to make. You have lived your life. You have made your decisions. You have probably even made your share of mistakes. No doubt you are hoping to save your teen from feeling any pain resulting from the sorts of mistakes you’ve made in your own life.
So you’re now confronted with one of the hardest things about watching your child transform into an adult. He will probably make some decisions you don’t agree with. You will have to just trust him to make the decisions that will be best for him, even if they don’t always turn out as you would hope.
Letting go is hard – but you can do it. You can do it!
So there you have it: 3 of the greatest secrets for motivating a teenager to get ready for adulthood. If you’re parenting a seemingly unmotivated teen, consider giving these suggestions a try.