Does your teen seem completely unmotivated? For parents of teens, the refrains of, “Whatever,” and “I don’t care,” can become all too familiar. In this interview, teenage behavior expert Josh Shipp explains where your child’s motivation really lies—and how you can tap into it.

Q. What should parents do when their child seems to be unmotivated?

I think that most—if not all—kids are motivated in some way. But I think there has to be a reason for the motivation. What most kids need is a “why.”

Kids always want to know, “Why am I doing this? Why is this history project important to me?” And the answer from you can’t be, “Because I told you so.” The answer can’t even necessarily be “because this is your school work and it’s your job.”

There has to be something within your child that pushes him past the inconveniences, the shortcomings, and the hiccups that will, without question, arise when he undertakes something that’s challenging. So it’s important for kids to understand why they want to do something, not just that they have to do it.

If you’re the parent of a teen, you know how much they like to debate and question things. Sometimes that’s a pain, but I think it’s actually okay to a point.

Here’s something I’ve come to understand from personal experience as a teen. When they finally understand how something benefits them, they will do it long term. If the only reason your child does something is that it’s important to you, that is short term motivation and that will end. The reason also needs to be important to your child, not just important to you.

If your daughter is making good grades only because she wants to make you happy, eventually that’s going to end. She needs to have a personal reason WHY. Her personal reason can be that when you do a good job at something difficult, you have a sense of accomplishment. Feeling a sense of accomplishment is worth the effort it takes to experience it.

Related content: Motivating Underachievers: 9 Steps to Take When Your Child Says “I Don’t Care”

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Motivation also occurs when others genuinely depend on you. Here’s an example from my own life. I’m part of a running group that meets every morning. Do I want to get up at 5 a.m. and run? Heck No! Why do I do it? Other people depend on me to be there. And that motivates me to get out of bed.

I think there’s a sense of accountability that we as human beings have. Our default nature is that we will disappoint ourselves before we disappoint others. If it was just me, I assure you that I would hit the snooze button seven out of ten times.

But instead, I think, “I promised Steve I would be there and he’ll give me a hard time if I don’t show up.” And secondly, it makes me feel good.

Also, most people don’t drive to the gym and then stay in the parking lot and do nothing. The issue is that they never get in the car in the first place. Once you do something you have a sense of accomplishment. You feel good about it and it’s worth it. It’s just the getting started part that’s hard. Inertia is tough to overcome.

Q. So what’s a good way to explain what the “WHY” is and how your child is going to benefit from it?

Here’s the place I would start. It’s very unlikely that you have a kid that is 100 percent lazy and unmotivated. What’s more likely is that in a few areas that drive you crazy as a parent, he’s lazy and unmotivated.

This was true for me. As a kid, in certain periods of my life, I wasn’t focused on my academics, but I was 100 percent committed to baseball. I would practice batting, throwing and catching for hours. Clearly, I had the ability to be disciplined and to work hard at something.

Related content: Motivating the Unmotivated Child

So what I would say is, find an area where your child is motivated. Where is she committed? Talk to her about that.

You can say:

“Why is it that you’re so committed to softball?”

She might say, “Well, I think it’s fun. I like it and my friends are on the team.”

Then you can come back with:

“Okay, so how could you transfer that to these other things that are important in your life? How could you take some of that ambition you have and transfer that to your schoolwork, which is also important? Could you figure out a way to make your homework fun and involve your friends?”

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Q. Why would a child want to do that? Why would she want to transfer her love of softball into doing a history project?”

That brings us back to the “why” of things. I think it’s important to help your child understand why she needs history and school. So you can say:

“You may not love history, but you need history in order to graduate.”

What you want to communicate to your child is that you have to do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do.

Find out what your child wants to do or become in the future. The average kid’s ambition does require them to graduate high school. I’m not saying every kid needs to go to a four-year college. Some are better working with their hands or going to technical school, but you have to graduate high school. So you can say to your child:

“Look, history is one of those things that you have to do so you can do what you want to do. Maybe later you want to be a computer programmer. That’s great, but you’re going to need to go to college for that. At the very least you’re going to need a high school degree.”

It’s the concept of “short-term sacrifice for long-term gain.” I also tell teens that the issue isn’t the piece of paper—the document that says “I graduated from Central High School.” The issue is that no company wants to hire a quitter. And if you drop out or stop doing the work, you are categorizing yourself as a quitter. It’s just not worth it.

Q. So what should you say if your child says that they hate math or they’re not good at chemistry? How do you motivate them then?

I think it’s okay for your kid to say, “I hate history. I’m not good at this.” Those are fine things to express. We all have subjects that we gravitate towards a little more. That’s not what you need to focus on. Instead, tell him:

“I understand that you don’t like it, but how can you succeed at this?”

Maybe that means your child doesn’t make an “A” in history, but he needs to at least do his best so he can graduate.

Again, to them, it’s a valid feeling when they say, “I’m not good at this. This is hard. I hate history.” In my opinion, a good response from you is:

“I have no problem with you hating history. But I do have a problem with you quitting tonight.”

Q. Josh, what about kids who come across as lazy or unmotivated but really it’s a self-esteem issue. Some kids worry a lot and just don’t feel like they can do it.

Sometimes kids really are over-scheduled. It’s pretty realistic that they would feel overwhelmed in that case. I think it’s important for you to help your child make positive goals and then make sure the things that he or she is saying yes or no to match up with that.

Frankly, I think a lot of us (myself included) need to make “to don’t” lists. We make so many “to do” lists in our lives, but sometimes they’re just entirely too lengthy. I think we need to commit to not doing some things. It’s freeing for kids to sit down and write out the things they don’t need to do in their lives, and it also helps them narrow down what they need to focus on.

Q. Josh, what about procrastination? Do teens put things off because they’re anxious about not being able to do something?

I think the issue here is that we often look at step ten, but we don’t see step one. We think, “I have this big project due by next week.” But that’s step ten. How do you get there? You’ve got to do steps one through nine.

If your child is feeling overwhelmed, it is important to coach them, but don’t do the work for them. Don’t say, “You’ve got five things to do, let me do one of them for you.”

When you do that, you’re handicapping your kid. You’re essentially letting them give up without letting them experience the guilt. And believe me, your child needs to experience that guilt and disappointment if he gives up.

What you can do is help him break it down. Lots of kids are visual, so you can say something like:

“All right, these are the four things you have to do this week, let’s write these four things down. Let’s look at your time. It looks like Tuesday would probably be the best day for you to do this. Does that sound good? You could do it Thursday afternoon after practice.”

Just help them break it down. Most kids just lack a game plan. So this project that’s actually quite small becomes an enormous beast in his mind. He starts thinking, “Oh my gosh, there’s no way I can do this.”

And so instead of actually doing his work or getting stuff done, your teen sits around agonizing about it. And then the deadline looms more and then he gets more and more freaked out.

My advice is, don’t handicap your kids by doing things for them. Instead, empower them by helping them develop a plan for how to do it themselves.

Related content: 5 Ways to Help Kids Who Procrastinate

Q. What about kids who need help getting started? Would you recommend giving them help at ithe beginning of a project?

I think that’s fine. What I would want to see, though, is my child asking for my help—not me shoving it upon him.

I think it’s important to talk to kids about how they can creatively ask for help. Your child could run his project by a friend who’s doing one of his own. He could go on the internet and look for ideas. He could ask you what you think about his project and how he’s planning to go about doing it.

I want to see kids learning things here, like how to ask for help and use the resources that they have. I have no problem with a parent helping, but I think it’s important for your child to learn how to ask for that help.

And I would say:

“I have no problem helping you out. I’m not going to do it for you, but let me know specifically what you would like help on.”

This is how you can relieve pressure without doing it for your child. So making a plan, reading it over, giving feedback, critiquing their work—all are totally fine in my opinion.

I’ve met too many 17 year-olds who are still being babied. They need to get up off the couch and do it themselves. If they don’t, then they’re 19 and they go to college and they wonder why things are falling apart.

So we have to be careful as parents. I think you have to ask yourself, “Am I helping my kid to actually help my kid or am I helping my kid for my own ego?”

This is a question I love because it’s sort of a punch in the gut. So, is it that I don’t want to have the kid that gets an “F” on his book report? Is it that I don’t want to look like an idiot or be embarrassed? Or is it that you want to help your child learn something?

Q. How do you motivate a child who has a self-esteem issue?

I’m not necessarily of the belief that you can motivate anybody. Motivation is something we have to choose.

People can say things that are motivational to us. We can experience things that are motivating. But whether or not we’re motivated is up to us.

Every single day you wake up and you have that choice. Will I be my best or will I not? Not the best, but my best. Will I apply myself, will I try these difficult things?

One thing that you can do as a parent is to expose your kids to things that inspire them. Maybe your child does want to be a computer programmer and there’s a computer programming convention in town. Take him to it. It may be the most boring thing in the world for you, but your child is totally going to nerd out and be all excited about it.

Use what your kid is into to motivate him. Maybe you know someone who’s a computer programmer who would talk with your kid. Obviously, this person is going to say that there are certain things you’ve got to do to be successful in that field, certain sacrifices you have to make. They might say, “Yes, I love what I do, but there were certain goals I had to achieve to get here, like graduating from high school and going to college.”

I personally find that when you surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to do, it inspires you. You realize that they’re just people, they’re not superhuman. They made mistakes and had some roadblocks but they kept going and they’re doing what they love. It makes you think, “Wow, this is possible. If this guy did it, why can’t I?”f

Sometimes the key is just knowing that someone else was able to achieve what you want to achieve. Encourage your kids to study their heroes’ first steps. By the time someone becomes your kid’s hero, they’re on step eight, nine or ten.

So encourage them to read about how successful people got started. What were their first steps? How many times did they fail? Do they know that Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team? How many times did the publisher say no, we don’t like your book? Study the first steps, not the end results.

Related content: Does Your Child Rely on Wishful Thinking? How to Motivate Him toward Attainable Goals

I think these sorts of things provide for better motivation than trying to come up with the perfect sentence or the exact right thing to say to your child to get them to do what you want them to do.

Q. Josh, you tell parents that it’s not effective to lecture children and teens. What should you do or say?

So much of the time we’re focused on what our teens shouldn’t be doing and the things they did wrong. But I think it’s important to compliment your child on things you’ve noticed them doing well.

Catch your teen doing something good. Say something to them even if it’s as simple as, “I noticed that you opened the door for that lady” Or “I saw you take some time out and play catch with your little brother. Nice job.”

It’s not effective to nag your kids. If you’ve taken on that role, understand that any time a project approaches, your child is going to assume by default that you are not there as a supporter, but as a nag and a nuisance.

Let’s face it, all of us want to quit things sometimes. We think to ourselves, “This is really hard. I don’t know if I can do it.”

But how would you feel if every time you were working on something difficult, a friend walked into the room and said, “Hey, you’re not finished yet? What’s holding you up? You should be done by now. I don’t think you’re doing it the right way.” You’d just tune him out. And you really don’t want to become that person to your child.

Related content: Irresponsible Children: Why Nagging and Lecturing Don’t Work

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We don’t want our kids to give up and quit when they face challenges. But we don’t want to label them as “quitters” or “lazy” either. That’s not helpful. Just focus on the behavior and ask pointed questions that bring your child to a specific solution.

Q. What kinds of questions work best, in your opinion?

I would start with questions like:

“Why are you having a hard time with this? What’s going on?”

And really listen to what your child has to say. Another good thing to ask is:

“What can I do to relieve some of the pressure?”

Make it clear that you’re not going to do the work for your kids, but let them know that you can help. Maybe your daughter was supposed to babysit over the weekend, but she needs more time to finish a big project. In this instance, you might try to find someone else to babysit in her place. You can say:

“Clearly you’re pretty worried about your project. I want to see you succeed. What can I do to relieve some stress?”

It’s also good to get your kids to see things long term. I don’t mean to lecture them, just make sure they have an incentive. Again, this goes back to talking to your kids about doing what you have to do so you can do what you want to do.

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I think it’s good to ask your child what tools he needs to succeed. I’ve found in my own life that there are certain days when I’m just energetic. These are days when I have lots of ideas and feel motivated.

When I look back on those days, I find patterns: I have time to exercise, some time to myself, and time with my family and friends. The bottom line is that you should look back at a time where you succeeded and then try to duplicate that environment.

Sit down and talk with your child about his best environment and the tools he needs to succeed. When I speak with kids, I always tell them, “Put yourself in a position to win.”

Maybe it helps your child to get up every 20 minutes and take a short break, then go back to work. That can often be a useful technique because then he’s not feeling like, “Oh, I’m going to be sitting here for eight hours straight studying.”

So encourage your child to give himself rewards if that’s what he needs. Again, you’re helping him without doing it for him.

I think the best thing that you can do is be involved in your kid’s life. Know what’s going on—and then help him make a plan to reach his goals. If he has a plan, then he can tackle it one step at a time and the goal doesn’t seem like this big, scary beast.

Q. What if you see your child starting to slack off a little on a project and you start to worry that he’s not going to finish on time. Is there anything you should step in and do at that point?

I think it’s best to let teens figure it out for themselves unless there’s a fire. As a parent, you obviously need to put out fires. But if it’s just a short-term inconvenience, I believe they need to figure it out for themselves.

If your child doesn’t hand in his project on time and gets a bad grade, that’s a natural consequence. Let it happen.

Certainly, there should be guidelines and rules at home around expectations and responsibilities. But if your child doesn’t complete his work, he needs to experience the consequences of that lack of follow-through himself.

Q. Josh, a lot of parents say that their kids play video games all the time and avoid doing work. What would you say about that?

I think you can use video gaming to your advantage as a parent. Frankly, I believe video games in moderation can be a good thing. They teach kids critical thinking skills, how to respond quickly, and make decisions. I think you can say:

“I know you have this big project due and you’re stressed out. Maybe we can set up a plan where you work on this for an hour, then you get 20 minutes to ease your mind, have a little fun, and play some video games. Then you get back to work. We’ll try it for a while and see if it works.”

The bottom line is, I think you should use whatever works the best—and use the things your child enjoys to motivate your child.

Remember, discouragement arrives before defeat. That’s why encouragement is one of the most important things you can do for your kid. When people stay discouraged, defeat is inevitable. It’s all about your mental fitness.

Q. Some kids bite off more than they can chew and end up doing too many activities. Is it OK to let your child quit a few things if they’re feeling stressed and overwhelmed?

Often in high school, the activities are cyclical. If my child signed up for too many activities, I personally wouldn’t want him to quit the team. Rather, I would want him to stick it out and then not sign up again. Once you allow the idea of quitting to enter into your child’s mind as an option or possibility, it becomes dangerous.

I’d rather be on the offense as a parent. Before your child is signing up for activities, sit down with him and look at what he has on his plate. I can understand why parents might want to say, “Maybe you should drop out of a few things” when they see their kid feeling overwhelmed. In an effort to relieve some pressure, parents might say, “Well maybe you should quit the softball team.”

But I think it’s better to not join these activities in the first place. See if there is a way to encourage your child to finish out his commitments if at all possible. I think it’s important to live by the following guideline: “My word and my commitment should be my word and my commitment regardless of whether or not it’s convenient for me.”

On the surface, something like quitting the softball team doesn’t seem to be a big deal. But you want your child to have the goal of following through on their commitments. If your child has really overbooked herself and signed up for the school play, the basketball team, and yearbook committee, she is probably doing too much.

Try to problem solve with her on how to fulfill all those commitments. It might be a tough six months, but it’s going to teach her a valuable lesson in commitment and persistence.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: begin with the end in mind. Tell your child before she signs up for things to think about what it will do for her semester or for her school year. Remember, you’re always saying “no” to something. If you say “yes” to too many activities, you’re saying “no” to time with your friends, time with your family, and time for yourself.

And this is a big thing with teenagers because they don’t want to upset anybody. Even teens who are a little bit insecure usually don’t want to rock the boat. So they over-commit themselves. I think it’s fine for them to choose not to do activities. I don’t care if they say no, but I do care if they give up.

Q. Josh, some kids give up easily because they feel that everyone else is better—that they’ll never be the best. What would you say to them?

I tell kids is that it isn’t about who’s the best, it’s about who does the work and is dedicated. I think you need to be careful about complimenting your child and simply saying things like “You’re so smart,” because it’s a relative term. It’s much better to encourage and compliment them on how hard they worked. Ultimately, that’s what matters.

So as a parent, I think it’s important to know what your kid’s goals are because then you can use that as a tool to motivate them. Your child’s goals may be really good and realistic. Or they may be really bizarre. If they are bizarre, I don’t think you should criticize them because at least they’re dreaming about something.

With teens, I think it’s best to remind them of things they themselves have said. To a certain degree, you’re allowing them to co-author certain things. It’s effective for you as a parent to say:

“Remember your goal is to become a computer programmer. But let’s be honest, you’re not going to be able to pull that off if you don’t have a high school degree, at least.”

Another thing I would say to kids is, “It’s not how talented you are that matters, it’s how dedicated you are that counts.” Everybody is talented in some way. Most people are smart. So what? But if you’re dedicated, you can do amazing things.

About

Josh Shipp was an at-risk foster child who has gone on to become a motivational speaker, author and world renowned youth empowerment expert. He has been included in Inc. Magazine’s 30 under 30, has appeared on numerous television shows and has been seen speaking live by millions.

Comments (25)
  • Harold Mosley
    What phone apps are of the most concern or the most dangerous in terms of turning a good kid in the wrong direction?
  • Harold Mosley
    What do I do when my teenage son refuses to talk with us? He gets offended by our questions about school. He doesn't want to hardly speak to us about anything?
    • Anonymous Teen

      As a teen myself it's more than likely just a phase. I have (and probably still do) refused to talk to my parents. From going what I experienced it is probally best to try and talk. Don't get angered because he screams at you, don't punish him just because something comes out wrong. Just listen.

      And if this doesn't work ask his teachers if he's been ok at school. Try to see if he does his homework. Any unordinary behavior may be the result of bullying.

      I hope that helped.

    • Rebecca Wolfenden, Parent Coach
      Many parents struggle with effectively communicating with their teenager, so you are not alone in experiencing this. Part of this reluctance to talk is developmentally normal, as adolescents tend to push away from their family and identify more with parents in a process called individuation. You might findMore some helpful tips on starting conversations with your son in 5 Secrets for Communicating with Teenagers. I also hear your concern with apps which might negatively influence your son. Something to keep in mind is that, no matter which apps might be on your son’s phone, he is ultimately the one responsible for his own behavior. We are all surrounded by numerous influences each day, both positive and negative, and we are each accountable for our own choices at the end of the day. That being said, it can be useful to monitor your son’s phone to ensure he is using it appropriately and following your rules. If you are concerned about a certain app on his phone, it can be helpful to ask him curious, open ended questions about how it works and to become more familiar with it yourself, as indicated in Your Child’s Secret Life Online: 7 Ways to Manage It as a Parent. I hope that you will continue to check in and let us know how things are going for you and your family. Take care.
  • SerenaMikell
    Encouragement is the key to motivation. I suggest encouragement because it works, people do better when they feel better.
  • MaryBarton
    My 16 year old goes to a high school not in our town. Whenever I sign him up for anything that he may see kids he went to middle school with he says that it feels weird to do anything with kids he has not seen for over 2 years.More I try and tel him that does not matter . Always gives me push back. I want him to take a free SAT practice test today I signed him up but he will not go because he will see kids he has not seen in 2 years and it is weird. I need some help please.
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      MaryBarton 

      I hear you.It can be

      really difficult when your child is refusing to comply with your directions,

      and is making excuses for his behavior.While it might seem unreasonable for your son to be concerned with

      seeing kids from middle school, it sounds like this is a big obstacle for your

      son from his perspective.This doesn’t

      mean that your son is excused from meeting his responsibilities, though.At this point, it could be helpful to discuss

      this issue from his perspective, and have a https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/the-surprising-reason-for-bad-child-behavior-i-cant-solve-problems/ with your son about how he will cope when he sees former

      classmates from middle school.I

      recognize how frustrating this must be for you. I hope that you will write back and let us

      know how things are going for you and your son.Take care.

  • MrsJones
    My nephew just turned 18 and he is still a Sophomore in Highschool. He is not passing. He hates school and authority in general. He keeps dropping out of school. He guilting his mom into letting him drive without a liscence and letting him just get away with doing nothing.More We looked into job court for him, but he said he didn't like he would have no friends there. I don't think he was keen on the idea of being held for his own accountability. Plus they drug test there so no marijuana. We have no idea how to get him to realise he needs to do something with his life but don't want to kick him out. What should we do!?!
    • RebeccaW_ParentalSupport

      @MrsJones 

      We appreciate you writing in to Empowering Parents and

      sharing your story.  I can hear how concerned you are about your nephew.

      Because we are a website aimed at helping people become more effective parents,

      we are limited in the advice and suggestions we can give to those outside of a

      direct parenting role. It may be helpful to look into local resources to help

      you develop a plan for addressing your particular issues. The 211 National

      Helpline is a referral service available 24 hours a day, nationwide. They can

      give you information on the types of support services available in your area

      such as counselors, support groups, education/employment services as well as

      various other resources. You can reach the Helpline by calling 1-800-273-6222

      or by logging onto http://www.211.org/. We wish you the

      best going forward. Take care.

  • Nagging mom

    I have a 14 y/o son who had inattentive add.

    In an effort to help him stay on track in school, I was nagging him constantly,he now barely talks to husband or I. He sits in his room after school and all weekend playing video games with his friends. He laughs and has a lot of fun doing this

    And comes out of his room with ear phones on

    To avoid talking to us. Help!!!!

    • Anonymous Teen
      As much as I hate to break it to you, nagging might be a main reason. While it is normal for teens to avoid their parents as they get older nagging can seriously get on anyones nerves.
    • DeniseR_ParentalSupport

      Nagging mom

      It’s not uncommon for kids to want to spend less and less

      time with their parents and other family members when they enter into their

      teen years. Your son is going through a period of development called individuation.

      As Janet Lehman explains in the article https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/adolescent-behavior-changes-is-your-child-embarrassed-by-you/, it’s normal for kids

      to want to spend more time with their friends than they do their parents during

      this time. And for teens today, a lot of that interaction is done virtually,

      through video games and on social media. As long as he’s meeting other

      expectations around behavior and school performance, I wouldn’t worry too much

      about your son’s seeming withdrawal from the family.

  • Brandy
    I have a brilliant son. He scored 98% in the gifted program. He is 15 years old. His grades are terible. He doesn't score bad, when he does his work. He just refuses to do it. If he would complete his assignments, he would have A's. I have tried groundingMore him, taking games away, and I have tried positive reinforcement. Nothing is working. I try to help him, and I get attitude and hostility. He lies about having missing assignments. When I call him on his lies, I get, "You never believe me anyway." He joined JROTC this year. I was hoping this would help. It hasn't yielded results with academics. He is a sweet social kid. I am at a loss. I feel like giving up, but I just can't let myself. I have tried to explain that his education is his ticket in life. I know he has to want it for himself. I just don't know how to reach him.
    • Frustrated Single Mom
      Brandy, I'm in the same boat. My son is 14 and his situation is identical to your son. Please share anything you find that has helped motivate him. I could use the advice as I am totally frustrated.
    • swissmoon
      @Brandy The moment you let go of all the preconceived notions the world teaches us about success, he will feel your sudden feeling of peace surrounding this situation, and he will come around. And what he decides then will be the best for him. :-)
  • sleepy

    My son does great in school but is out of shape.  All of his friends are really good athletes and they are being put on top teams.  My son has the coordination but he is overweight (not crazy overweight but he's naturally slow so this compounds the problem - 12 years old - 5'5" 160 lbs). 

    We've had discussions about exercises to get in shape and exercises that improve speed and quickness but I think he has trouble envisioning success because its hard to see long term improvements in the day to day activity.

  • Ashton Alex Millentina

    I have no motivation at all, let's face it, it's always that one kid in the year who has dyed hair and listens to heavy metal that, ultimately, gets judged, I lost all energy to do things because i thought i would fail, i got put down so much that IMore lost all my motivation....

    • Natasha
      I believe my daughter feels the same way. Did you ever overcome this feeling? If so what motivated you? Is there something that I can say, or do, to encourage her to apply herself even after I've been so hard on her?
  • aprilalves32

    I wish I could say that this article will help me. My son has low self-esteem and is utterly unmotivated. No matter what I've tried/said/allowed/removed/assisted with he says, "I don't care.", "I hate it.", "I can't.", "I don't want to." He's 16 and I'm at the end of my rope.More I'm about ready to wash my hands of the whole thing and let him suffer all the consequences of being lazy, argumentative, and unmotivated. If he wants to flunk out of high school then that's his problem. He'll have to learn the hard way cause there is NO WAY I'm going to be paying his way if he's not in school. He's breaking my heart because of his lack of everything cause all I see is a dark and lonely future for him.

    • Barbara
      aprilalves32 I have a 15yr old daughter who has given up on herself and everything about school, When I talk to her she sits and cry's and says I cant do it, I didn't want to or I just hate school. My husband is so fed up with her andMore just doesn't care what happens to her. Here I sit trying to figure this out what can I do to help her. Then this falls back on me Like where did i go wrong with her. Then I have to realize it's not me she is the one refusing to do the school work and put forth the effort in herself and school. I have taken away, removed, and tried to help her and she puts up a wall. She has no drive what so ever its to frustrating and hurtful. So you are not alone. Apart of me wants to send her to boot camp and a part of me just doesn't know what to do. My Husband and I have tried to be a positive roll model and be supportive thinking maybe she's just being a teenager but its getting out of hand. Good luck to you I'm still searching for help.......
      • juma khan bhakhtawar
        @Barbara aprilalves32 you are right sir i agree but can you share the idea for .ppt slides to make them more value able son or students of a school.
    • Littlekitty123

      Omg same here! I can talk until I'm blue in the face...or I'll make a positive suggestion and get no response or action..frusterating

      • tran

        I am in the same boat with you.  Many times, I have the thoughts you

        had. What I have been to doing up to this point has produced the same

        result.  I come to realize that I can't keep doing the same thing and

        expect different results.  I, myself, need to change to expect different

        results. I have been paying closer attention to what I do/say

        around/to him.  Out of 10 things I do, 1 or 2 might have a positive

        effect.  Now, I try to only do/say what I see that has positive effect. I

        am still struggling but I am still hopeful that through my changes

        something will click for him.  Please hang in there and don't give up

        hope that things will turn around.

        • SoCalDad
          tran I have same issue with my 15 year old as this too!!! It is frightening as even in the morning he will wake up unmotivated in the summertime when he doesn't even have school to impact his lack of motivation or positive attitude. I tend to agree with yourMore comment about 1-2 things rather than 10 but I feel like why should I be the one having to walk on eggshells and only say the things that will not get him to rely back and go into fully unmotivated and negative moody mode??? I guess maybe that is the hard part about being a parent these days.... I am also still trying to find those positive things for him, as well as running to keep him from putting up more weight...
          • tran

            @SoCalDad tran 

            Hi SoCalDad.

            I know what you mean about walking on egg shells.  I thought and thought about it and wanted to throw in the towel many times.  I threw in the towel but walked back and picked up the towel.  I couldn't give up on him.  All I know is, I have nothing without my son.  So, I am willing to do anything to help my son get better.

            Bottom line is, I had been going down my same path of teaching my son for 14 years but the results were not what I envisioned.  Something needed to change.  If I, as an adult who has better control over my thoughts/behavior, am not willing to change my ways, How can I expect a child, my child to change?  I decided that it is easier for me to change.

            These are some of the things I have been working myself:

            - I try listen to him a lot more.  I let him drive the conversations and expose his thoughts and feelings.  This way I can understand him more, what makes his clock ticks.  I want to know what I have to work with.

            - I try to ignore most minor stuff or not over-react to minor stuff.

            - When he has a decision to make, I try to help, not tell, him laying out the facts.  Then, he makes his choices.  Sometimes, his choices do not agree with mine but if the consequences are minor in regard to safety, I still let him go ahead and learn from them.

            - I try to encourage him to find the outcome rather me telling him the outcome.  Now a day, I try to ask him a lot of questions like I am the dumb one and he is smart one.

            For example, 

            "What if you got an A on your math test?"

            "You would like it" he said :-))  

            "What else might happen?"

            "Oh, my friends might think I am smart." he admitted.

            - I hone in more on the positive things I see, even minor.  However, I try not to go over aboard with my enthusiasm.  For example, he got up early one day.  I said to him, "Hey, you're up early today.  Want to go do something?  Anything you like."  We ended up fishing that whole day.  I am glad we did because he shared a lot about the things on his mind.

             These are just some of the things I try to do.

            Anyway, to keep my journey short, now I try to understand him more so I can motivate him the way he likes it, not how I like it.  I have been changing my ways for about 5-6 months and I am encouraged.  I haven't gone crazy mad or yelled as I did before.  Believe me, I came so close to explosion at times but kept my mouth shut and walked way.  For the first time ever, he told me that he thinks he can do well this coming school year.  Just the fact that he even thinks about doing well in school is a step forward.  School is starting tomorrow :-).  I can see that he is trying to change, not at the pace I hoped for, but I can't rush that.

            I am just sharing my experience.  I am in NO WAY qualified to teach you or anyone to raise a child.

            One thing I learn is, there is no one way to motivate your child.  I just want to encourage you not to give up. Try different methods and see which one works better.

            BTW, Like your son, mine is turning 15 :-)

            Good Luck!

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