Miracle Cures for Motivating Teens
Sorry for the title, but we wanted to be sure you would read the June newsletter. Did it work? Seriously, we don’t have any miracle cures guaranteed to motivate your teens. If we did, we would both be sunbathing in the Caribbean living off of book royalties! Nonetheless, we hope to provide you with a number of new ideas and simple reminders for motivating your teen (and you).
What is motivation?
The Encarta Dictionary defines motivation as “a feeling of enthusiasm, interest, or commitment that makes somebody want to do something; the act of giving somebody a reason or incentive to do something.” As parents you can use creative ideas to provide your teens with enticement to be motivated students.
How do I motivate my teens?
One of the key words in the definition of motivation is incentive. We are much more enthused about doing something when we can see a reason for doing it. Likewise, your teens need to understand that there are reasons for them to be good students who complete their course work (and other activities) with diligence.
If your student is a Christian, the first reason, without a doubt, is that his goal should be to please the Lord and glorify Him. As students, one of the primary ways teens can glorify the Lord is to do their school work with integrity, excellence, and skill. Don’t assume that your teens understand this—discuss it with them. Do they see their studies as their main job right now?
Elisabeth Elliot gives good advice for all of us (students, homeschool parents, and high school coordinators!) as we view our jobs: “This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him…. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.”
Lead your teens in finding one or two Bible verses that prompt them to work as unto the Lord such as Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Or 2 Thessalonians 3:10: “…if anyone will not work, neither let him eat.” Now there’s motivation if implemented!
A second reason for teens to be motivated about their studies is that it is a necessary component in attaining future goals. Help your teens to make the connection between their school work and preparation for their careers and adult life. In other words, their high school studies do have an end goal. No matter what plans your teens have for post-graduation, knowledge they are gaining now will be useful to them later. Give your teens time to research various careers specifically with the intent of learning what skills are necessary to succeed in the job. Set up several short-term job shadowing opportunities so they can see firsthand that writing reports, organizing data, conducting research, performing math calculations, and taking tests for certification will be abilities that will serve them all of their lives.
If your teen is college-bound, have her check out the high school course requirements that colleges demand, the minimum college entrance test scores that are expected, and the seriousness with which admissions officers view grades.
Encourage your teen by offering him some choices of courses that you would like him to complete. Involving your teens by enabling them to choose various courses, especially in the electives areas that interest them, goes a long way towards developing motivation for their studies.
Assist your teen in having the delight of setting goals and then seeing them accomplished. Be sure you as the parent stay actively involved in the learning process. At first, you may want to set goals on a daily basis, but then as your teen matures, perhaps a weekly meeting with you to go over how much progress he is making in his studies will serve as a motivating inducement to keep setting new goals. For example, guide your teen in breaking down a larger project such as writing a research paper into smaller segments (narrowing down a topic, doing preliminary research, coming up with an outline, writing the first draft, polishing up the finished project). Think up simple rewards when each goal is met—nothing fancy or expensive—maybe a surprise afternoon of no school, her favorite ice cream treat, a preferred candy bar hidden under the math book, or that CD for which she’s been saving.
Last, and most importantly, the prime way to motivate your teens is through encouragement. You’ve probably heard it before, but most of us are much more apt to find areas to criticize than we are to encourage. Pay close attention to how many times you find fault with your teens compared to how many times you find something to praise in them. We challenge you to praise much more than you disapprove or disparage. Encouragement heartens the spirit and sweetens everything it touches. Even when your teens disappoint you by not completing a task or by not putting forth a good effort, have them see you as an advocate who is not only quick to correct, but one who also hastens to offer them support to get back on the right track.
Here are some encouragement and motivational quotes to get you started and to also bless your own hearts.
Why does your teen lack motivation?
There are a variety of causes for a teen’s seeming lack of motivation that may include physical difficulties, personality traits, or maybe a rebellious nature. In order to discern the underlying explanation for a lack of willingness to complete school work, we humbly recommend seeking the Lord’s wisdom through prayer. You can trust the Lord to know how to best direct your efforts in helping your teen to overcome his disinterest.
Even if a serious lack of motivation seems to stem from laziness, lack of respect for authority, self-centeredness, or another sin area, then we have good news for you—it is not a hopeless situation!
The Lord is in the business of changing and redeeming hearts, and the prayers of faithful parents are never unheard. Your responsibility in these cases is to lovingly train and correct, spur on to good deeds by your own gracious example, and cry out to a Father who loves you and your children with an everlasting love. If your relationship with your teen has suffered through circumstances caused by his or her lack of motivation, remember that the Lord is able to restore—fully and completely. Continue trusting the Lord to be your powerful ally. Be on guard so that you don’t grow calloused or hardened toward your teen, and always be mindful that the Lord deals with your own sin areas in a grace-filled manner. Remembering this will help you to likewise extend firm but gracious correction to your teen.
Above all, if you have tried many different approaches with no success, do not despair or succumb to the temptation of taking responsibility for your teen’s choices. Know that the Lord is at work even when change is slow to come.
Are you motivated?
Homeschooling is downright hard! Is your own motivation lacking? If you still get out of bed each morning with a spring in your step, ready to homeschool with a cheerful attitude and a ready smile, praise God! On the other hand, if the spring in your step has sprung and you find it difficult to face another homeschool day, here are some words of encouragement:
- Stay focused on the eternal not the temporal,
- Remind yourself that the Lord is all-sufficient and ready to help you,
- Repent of any laziness or hopelessness, and
- Receive unlimited grace and compassion from the Lord.
For those of you graduating a senior this June, we offer our heartfelt congratulations! And, for all of you, we hope that the summer provides you with a well-deserved time of refreshment. Join us next month as we share ideas to spice up your next year’s slate of courses.
Motivated to do our job as unto the Lord,
Becky Cooke and Diane Kummer
HSLDA High School Coordinators
Resources (for you and your teen)
Quote of the Month:
When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.
—Attributed to Mark Twain