Teens at home during lockdown can be pretty tough, especially when it comes to motivation. Here are our thoughts and tips on motivating teens at home!
But they’re unmotivated, they sit in their rooms all day, when they do come out they are not sociable, and all they want to do is eat, and then go back into their rooms! They never do any housework. What am I supposed to do?
Well, number one, you can’t motivate someone else. You can only provide an environment that might motivate someone. It is hard enough to motivate yourself as an adult, let alone do this highly complex task to someone else, who is an unmotivated teenager. Motivation is an internal drive to do something, usually it has benefits to the person, either in energy savings now or later on. Motivation is usually a way of taking a short cut, or creating a perceived benefit. AN adult is motivated to do the dishes earlier in the evening, so that they don’t have to do it later on, or don’t have to be constantly reminded of doing it all evening as the dishes lay waiting. Imagine it didn’t really matter, when or if, the dishes got done. A bit like ironing pillowcases or underwear. There is no rush. There is no time frame. No energy is saved in the process. So there is very little inclination to do it. The same might be true of the teenager. During lockdown, all of us found time management different to other times. What if the teenager really doesn’t have any time specific events that matter to them? (The game at 8pm organised a week ago, is a must; the dishes could maybe wait).
Number two. The trick here is not to use the outcome as the motivator. It isn’t exciting for teens to do the dishes / lawns / rubbish / washing / vacuuming – and for most adults, it isn’t exciting either. You didn’t do the dishes much when you were a teen, for most adults that true, at least not voluntarily, at least rarely and at least not spontaneously (yes there are some super motivated teens in the world, but they are often motivated for different reasons, social acceptance, compliance for later political gain, or genuine empathy for a stressed parent). So, why do you do the dishes? Why don’t you iron your underwear (if you do we have a whole other conversation…) Why do you do things in the order that you do them for example fun first, and difficult last, or Difficult first with an intrinsic reward of fun last? Or maybe an alternating even distribution to keep you on task over time.
These are the strategies to share with a teen. Teens have other stuff to do. They will get there eventually, as most competent adults were once unmotivated teenagers. Understanding that it's not a power battle; you are not a better adult for moaning about your teen, but you can have a win / win!
If you'd like to get some more motivation strategies, or even more tips about managing your teenager's education during lockdowns get in touch!