10 Ways To Motivate Your Teenager

teenager motivation wifi reward

You are not alone.

Do you think that when our teens grow up and have kids they will say to their children, “When I was growing up it was tough, we had to blah, blah, blah…”  Somehow, I don’t see that happening.

I blame our lazy teens on our culture and our media. But mostly I think the blame is all mine…


yin yang page divider

teenager know it all sign

At this house, the days of walking a mile to school in the snow with no shoes just don’t ever happen.  The kids aren’t out harvesting the crops or cutting wood or hunting prairie chickens for dinner.

Instead, my kids are hard at work on the Xbox and Facebook. Sweat drips from every pore as they search through YouTube, social media and tackle multi-player video game opponents.

Lately, it’s become so bad that my son doesn’t even bother to play Minecraft on the Xbox, instead he watches other people play Minecraft on YouTube.

Ask my 15-year-old to help with folding laundry or doing dishes and the skies darken as the apocalypse begins.  We have truly become an entitlement family. But this is about to change…

 1. Keep it Real


teenager tough love poster

“We ain’t partners, we ain’t brothers and we ain’t friends, if worse comes to worse you will be sorry you ever met me.” Or something like that.  Perhaps not so harsh, though.

Tough love is always the first step.  Always maintain that authority on the battlefield.  Draw a line in the sand and stick with it.  Remember how our parents brainwashed us into believing that they were in charge?  Well now it’s your turn to keep up the tradition.


2.  Have a Clear Game Plan of What is Expected

teenager chore charts

We all need clear instructions.  It is imperative that our expectations of our teenagers does not waver.  Having terms set in stone (or just on a helpful chart like the one above) keeps misunderstandings at bay.  Teenagers usually thrive in chaos and they will beat you at that game every time.

The key here is to have written documentation.  Without it, it’s just your word against theirs…


3.  Set a Strong Example

Get out of the house.  Don’t let your teen stay rolled up in bed watching Lord of the Rings marathons, Face-Timing and eating snacks all day.

Even if it is just taking an evening walk, make sure to force your teenager to move with you. Make dinner together and have your kids actively helping while you work to make it all happen.

Set a time for everyone to clean house together.  This can be as simple as 30 minutes a day just getting into the habit of picking up and straightening the place up a little.  If you are a lazy slob, how can you expect the ones who look up to you to be any different?


4.  Challenge Your Teenager and Keep Your End of the Deal

Just as we know every shortcoming our kids have, they know every flaw of ours.  Challenge them to overcome a bad habit and in turn prove to them it can be done by overcoming one of yours.  Their closet is un-organized?  Have you seen yours lately?  Set a precise challenge and celebrate a victory together.


5.  Remind Them Just How Awesome They Are

you are awesome poster
Joss & Main

It’s true that just last night while taking a shower, your teen sprayed water all over the bathroom and ruined a perfect new roll of toilet paper and now there is enough water on the floor to float a battleship.  It’s true you are ready to strangle your child.

We all fall short from time to time.  Low self-esteem and lack of motivation are directly correlated.  Every day remind your kid how incredibly awesome they are.  Once in a while plan a special dinner or go out and celebrate what a cool kid you have.  Encourage. Encourage. Encourage.


6.  Give Your Teenager a Clean, Organized and Groovy Room

teenagers clean and organized room

You don’t have to spend tons of money or anything, the point is for your kid not live with Oscar the Grouch in a big green trash can (unless they are a toddler and then I suppose they would love that). Make it a goal to get your teens room organized.  Throw out the junk that is not used anymore.

A good rule is that before bed every week-night the room has to be put back together. Waking up to an organized room starts a motivated day.


7.  Keep Your Kid Smiling

smiling teenager
Carla Evans

I know we all have bills, breakdowns and various trials and struggles but make sure your teenager doesn’t always catch you depressed and grimacing. Make it a point to smile at your kids every time they pass by, just as you would to a new co-worker. Be enthusiastic about your teens interests. Never put your teen down.  Proper nutrition helps keep a teen happy, healthy and motivated.

Rent a comedy and watch it together as a family, play innocent pranks on your kids once in a while.  Make an effort to jab your teen in the ribs at least once a day.


8.  Set Rewards for Battles Worth Losing

purple hair teenager

No, Daughter, I don’t really want you to dye your hair purple.  But it seems really important to you.  So instead of constantly going head to head with you, I would like to strike a truce. If you will hold your grades all above C’s for the semester, you have my blessing.

Pick your battles.  They are teenagers and they need to explore and express themselves. As long as it isn’t high-risk behavior or dangerous, turn their insane ideas into rewards. Which leads us to…


9.  The Past is the Past and It Is Over

teenager motivational poster

Okay, there were things we got away with.  Things we didn’t do or do the right way. Boy-friends and girl-friends that broke our hearts and we made some bad decisions along the way. But we made some good ones too, right?

Instill a deep sense into your teen that the past is only there to look back upon and learn from.  That everyday is a new day to start over. Depression most certainly effects motivation. Teach your kid to just let it go. Lao Tzu put it perfectly, “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.”


10.  Show Me the Money

chore reward buttons
A Girl and a Glue Gun

Chores, in my opinion, should not be compensated for.  But there has to be extra incentive to make some money before your teenager is able to get a job of their own. Having clear, established, mutual money-making tasks to perform is a great way to contract your teenager for the loot they seek.

We as humans are reward driven.  We don’t work for free and unless we are engaged in a hobby, we expect compensation.  This is how your teenager feels as well.  It doesn’t have to be much per chore but something that can add up over a couple of weeks is nice.

Some reward ideas could be:

  • Extra Time on the Computer
  • Tickets to a Movie
  • Sleeping Late
  • Concert Tickets
  • Pizza and Friends Over
  • Extra Curfew Time
  • Favorite Meal or Restaurant
  • Gift Cards
  • Keys to the Car
  • Chore-Free Day

Leave your ideas for more rewards in the comments.