Parents don’t want their teen sons to fail, experience hurt or disappointment, so they step in and do whatever they can to motivate them. But is motivating teen boys for long term success in school, relationships and life even possible? Is there an easier way beyond tension and fighting? Experts in adolescent psychology say yes!
Too many parents want to protect their teenagers from life’s challenges, and perhaps spare them from pain and unhappiness. However, built into every challenge is a lesson to be learned, and although failure does cause pain, it can also build character. Teen boys who have “helicopter parents” who intervene at every possible conflict, micromanage their children’s home life and schoolwork, and won’t allow their sons to feel stress or frustration are doing a disservice.
Teens who grow up under such parenting styles tend to feel entitled, anxious, depressed and fail to develop socially or mentally. They often have low willpower, self-esteem and social skills. Because the teens never experience what it is like to overcome defeat, they never gain the significant growth that comes from disappointments and setbacks. While no parent wants to see their child experience failure, it can be a positive thing that builds values and strengths.
It’s never too early for parents to ensure that their teenage sons are finding the motivation they need to be successful in school, relationships and life. Instead of parents providing the motivation, the teens need to develop it within.
Here are 5 ways that parents can help teen boys develop motivation within:
Determine the teenage boys’ goals and dreams, whether it’s to attend college, learn a trade or something else. Make sure they outline the steps it will take to accomplish it, so there is no misunderstanding about what has to happen in life for them to reach it. Sometimes, teen boys don’t really have much perspective of what it takes to get to where they want to be and parents and teachers can help with that.
Resist the urge to arrange, outline, entice or reward teenage boys to complete tasks throughout the day. The first step is for the teens to make a choice that leads to a specific consequence–success or failure. Instead of teaching learned helplessness, teen boys will learn to be more independent.
Hold them accountable for their actions or inactions. For example, if they don’t do a project for school very well, they need to suffer with the grade. Once they understand they will not be “rescued” they will eventually learn to take responsibility themselves.
Give up the nonstop recognition and false praise when teenage boys do something that is expected, not something that is outstanding. Teen boys need to earn praise that is genuine and not all that common.
Teach life skills. From time management techniques to delayed gratification, the life skills that teen boys need to learn will contribute to developing motivation to find success in life. Other life skills include, good manners, stress management, positive peer interaction, conversation skills and more.
Once teenage boys know what it is like to achieve something and reach a goal they have set, no matter how small, the success will fuel more goal-setting and the teen boys will gain more self-esteem and confidence. Taking responsibility for their actions, and outcomes is the best way for teen boys to exercise self-motivation–a skill that will benefit them for their entire lives.