Motivating your teenager

I’ve had several requests to talk about ‘motivating your teenager’, so here goes! At first, I thought, hey this will be easy because I was a teenager once. Yet, I was looking at life through a completely different lens in those days!

It also occurred to me that while I spend much of my days with teenagers, I suspect I may get the best side of them, though not all of that is down to luck or initiation of ‘best behaviour’ protocol. I don’t know about you, but it was automatic for me to be on hyper-alert with please and thank you at the ready back in the days of yore.

So, I asked around friends and business contacts that have teens for their opinions and here are some of the things they recommend for motivating your teenager.

Let them ‘win’ – We know that many a teen will take an opposing view, just because they can. It’s a great way to develop their own thoughts and debating skills. Yes, it’s always a bit troubling to be bested in an argument but sometimes it’s good to let them have it.

No, this isn’t a case of cave in and give them their own way on everything. As adults and parents, we can be just as bad at not knowing when a discussion is spiralling an argument and beyond. Because you know what that means….. The dreaded huffing, skulking and silent treatment. Until the next meal time anyway!

Allow them an opinion – Following on from the above, allowing your teen to air their views and opinions in a non-judgemental environment is wonderful for insight into their developing character, ethics, thoughts and feelings. HEALTH WARNING: You may not always like what you see and hear! In fact, one father did confide that he wasn’t sure if his son was trying too hard to be bullish in his views on certain things, or whether he was a sociopath!

Showing that you value their opinion means more than they’re likely to let you know.

Give them responsibility – This came up a lot from my acquaintances! Let them walk a mile in your shoes! Multiple things to do, several places to be, all at the same time is great for giving them a flavour of what it’s like to be a modern adult and parent, whilst demonstrating your growing trust in them.

Do things together – Believe or not, your often-sullen teen actually likes to be asked to do things together. From building things in the garden to painting the walls to assembling flat-pack furniture. As well as treating them as equals, it’s quality time together that gets less frequent from now on.

And when you’ve done that, you can be pummelled on the Xbox, despite exclamations such as “I was so much better on Atari”. If it makes you feel better, you never stood a chance.

Lead by example – Personally, I think this is potentially the toughest of the lot! It’s difficult not to appear a hypocrite (and be called out on it!) if you’re clearly not taking your own medicine. If you ask them to tidy their room, you really don’t want them seeing a discarded robe or towel on the floor of yours! A request to take a plate or glass and put it in the dishwasher falls on deaf ears if they’ve discovered the stash of coffee mugs and biscuit wrappers in the study… You get what I mean, I’m sure.

None of this is to preach, because none of us are anything like perfect, at least I’m not. I’m only human after all.

See what I did there? I’m so street…