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Motivated teenagers

How to motivate your teenager in school

Study tips
Published 10 Jan, 2023  ·  4-minute read

Why does my teenager have no motivation for schoolwork? It's a question as old as time, and one that many parents find tricky to answer. But there are ways to motivate teenage learners – here's how. 

Cultivating motivation in teens can often feel like an uphill battle. It can be especially frustrating to see your child’s potential going unfulfilled when they don’t feel like studying or trying at school. 

As a parent, you don’t need to stand on the sideline. If you’re stuck on how to motivate your teenager, we’ve got some suggestions that might help.

Not all kids who are struggling in school are lacking motivation – some might be underperforming due to learning issues, social challenges or emotional problems. Make sure you communicate with your teen and seek professional help if they’re struggling.

How to motivate a teenager to do homework: get involved

A mother watches her son write at a desk as he does his school homework

Remember: you’re on the same team as your teen. You both want what’s best – you might just have different ways of showing it. While they’re growing older and gaining independence, you might feel like pulling back in many ways. But it’s important to stay involved in their life to provide them with the motivation they might sometimes be missing.

If you’re not sure how to motivate your teenager to commit to their studies, make sure they know you’re there to help them with their homework or answer any questions they have. Show interest in what they learn in school and excitement about their academic achievements. By demonstrating interest in their school life, you’re showing that it’s something to be enthusiastic about.

Teens tend to feel like they’re being interrogated if they’re asked too many questions, so be sure to make it a two-way conversation and share information about your day as well.

Help them see the big picture

a mother looks at a brochure with her daughter at UQ Open Day

Events like UQ Open Day are perfect opportunities to help your teen keep sight of their goals and future.

Sometimes all you need to do to motivate a teenager is to provide them with a simple reminder of what they’re working towards.

A student spending day after day in a classroom might find it difficult to focus on why they’re doing all this work if they can’t see the end goal. Delayed gratification is a tricky concept for young minds – and it’s not exactly easy for adults either.

You can encourage your high schooler at home by reminding them why their grades are important.

  • Is there a specific university program they want to get into?
  • Do they have a dream career in mind?

Help them remember the reason behind why their grades matter. By linking what they do in school now with their long-term goals, it’ll be easier for them to stay motivated to work for it.

Stay positive

A Father leans over his seated son smiling as he sees what he has written in his school homework

Be the positive influence your teen needs in the world. Keep your relationship with your teenager open, positive and respectful.

It would be detrimental to their motivation (as well as your relationship) to ever punish or threaten them into trying harder at school – and this will likely have the opposite effect. So even if you do feel frustrated with your teen’s lack of drive, you likely won’t receive the result you’re after by taking it out on them.

Remember that your teen isn’t being unmotivated on purpose or to aggravate you. Try to reconnect with your teen on the things about school they enjoy and find meaningful. It might be a favourite subject, an extracurricular activity they enjoy or a teacher who inspires them. Most people will be motivated to participate in things they find fun, so encourage them as much as you can to focus on what they find fun and interesting about school.

Need a bit more help on how to motivate your teenager to study? Discover handy hints on healthy habits you can foster in your teen.

How to inspire your teenager to do their best

Nobody said being a parent of a teenager is easy. Whether you struggle with how to motivate your teenage son or daughter to study or aren’t sure what you can do to help them feel inspired to reach their full potential, keep these strategies in mind:

  • Lead by example.
  • Have meaningful conversations about their future.
  • Help them break down their goals into short-term and long-term ones.
  • Encourage their passions.
  • Reward their efforts and not the outcome.

Remember: you can guide them as best you can, but at the end of the day, it’s up to them to choose to do the work.

At UQ, we offer our students a range of study assistance programs to help them stay motivated during their degree. Learn more about our mentoring programs, and how they could help your teen thrive at university.

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