As a child your son was enthusiastic. He loved playing with blocks, reading and drawing. His boundless energy of always wanting to learn more, touch things and explore often left you exhausted but pleased. You knew you had a smart child in the making. However, by the time he hit elementary school, things began to change.
It was around this time when you received your first note that your child was “experiencing some problems.” Included in the list of teacher comments were things like failing to complete projects on time, not turning in homework, is fidgeting in classes and not staying focused on task at hand. His lack of motivation left you feeling disheartened as you look over his mediocre grades and sly attitude.
It seems your teenage son has officially disconnected, leaving you to wonder why your smart child is no longer motivated to succeed. While a lack of motivation can be cause for a child to not succeed, an un-motivated child can also turn your home into a battleground. One of the first steps to motivating your teenage son is to help them develop a love of learning.
Boys learn differently
Males learn best with they are on the move as opposed to being sedimentary. This will explain the fidgeting in the classroom. The male mind is more interested in physical activity such as building things, running and jumping, solving puzzles, touching and exploring. Studies show that boys prefer to read stories about other boys involved in activities they enjoy.
Make learning fun by connecting home and school
You’ll need to pay special attention to your son to find out what does motivate him. Learn about his interests and provide incentives (which are not the same as rewards) to encourage him to learn. For example, if your teenage son enjoys building things, then connect him with a local science club. You can then use this to explain how learning math and physics in school are important to engineering. Perhaps your son loves animals. See if he can volunteer at a nearby vet clinic and explain how biology and science are part of animal care. The idea is to get him motivated by involving him in things that interest him and then convey the importance of his school subjects to his interests.
Your teenage son will need to accept the fact he will have to do things he may not want to do, such as homework and house chores. Teaching him about time trades will help him become accustomed to doing these activities. For example, for every minute or hour your son spends doing homework or chores, he can trade an equal amount of time doing something he enjoys from a list that you have created together. He can even bank time to use for daytrips, theme park visits or overnight campouts. Remember, the list needs to consist of his interests or else he won’t be motivated. You can work together to keep track of maintaining the time record and working out details. This method of time trade will also teach him self-regulation.
Other things to try
- Everyone likes to have their personal space, so create a personalized work area for your son. Work together to create a space where he can do homework, build things, read – whatever he needs to be motivated to do what he needs to do. A personalized workspace will be more appealing to him than a general area that is used by everyone in the house.
- Consider introducing him to male role models. Find ways in your neighborhood or community to connect your son with organizations that interest him. Maybe your son loves cars and you just happen to have a neighbor that restores old autos. Perhaps your son has a knack for professional sports and the community beside you has an organized sports league. These types of activities can also be used for time trades.
Motivation is something every parent wants for their children. Helping your un-motivated teenage son become interested and motivated is one of the best gifts you can provide. It will teach him to set and achieve his goals and become a life-long learner.
Author: Divya Parekh (ACC, CPC, LL, MS) is an international career leadership coach, Head Career Coach at International Coach Academy, and CEO of The DP Group. She assists executives, professionals, coaches and students plan, develop and achieve their career and leadership goals. She has been recognized by Worldwide Who’s Who as ‘VIP of the Year’ for showing dedication, leadership and excellence in leadership coaching. She has also been recognized by NAPW as a ‘VIP Woman of the 2014 Year’ for outstanding leadership and commitment in coaching. She is founder of the 1/1/1 Leader Project. The project prides itself on being simple. Set a goal. Work towards achieving it. Give someone a smile. Be nice to another person. Make the world a little bit nicer. It’s free so get started today!