As the weather gets warmer, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay motivated in the classroom. Teens just want to be free for the summer. Wondering how to keep them on track? This article can help.
Child Losing Steam? How to Keep Kids and Teens Motivated at School
Is your child or teen fighting with you every step of the way lately, from refusing to get up on time in the morning, to complaining about homework at night? For so many families out there, this time of year is really tough. Your kids are tired, their teachers are tired, the winter has dragged on, and the end of the school year seems nowhere in sight.
For kids, this time of year can feel like Groundhog Day, as they deal with the same routine without a clear break. In my experience working in residential treatment with special education classrooms, I also found that teachers are naturally feeling some of the same frustration and boredom. Cabin fever makes things more challenging for everyone.
A Parallel Process
Just as our kids are reacting to the bad weather and long winter, so are we—it’s a parallel process. If you’re trying to attend to homework and other school expectations in the midst of all the millions of other things you’re doing, and your kids continue to be unmotivated, it’s easy to get frustrated and feel defeated. If you don’t see good results from all the work you put in with your child, this lack of success just feeds the stress and anxiety—and the feeling as a parent that your responsibilities are never-ending.
Three Causes for Lack of Motivation in School:
Here are three major reasons why your child may lose motivation in school:
- If your child seems less motivated than in the past, it may be due to a dip in interest. Maybe there’s an overly challenging subject (let’s say your child has a hard time writing, or doing algebra), or they really don’t jive with this year’s math teacher. I think it’s helpful to realize that many of these kinds of challenges will pass naturally, and your child will be back on track.
- For other kids, there may be social problems at play, including friends who are no longer interested in hanging out with your child, bullying, or break-ups with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Consider your child’s peer group. Are they all skipping school, drinking and/or smoking marijuana or getting detention? There may be peer pressure to under-perform in school, as well.
- Understand that there are times when your teen is more moody or ornery than usual. This is actually tied to normal adolescent development. My husband James and I found that it was important to “Expect (and accept) bad moods and bad days” with our child, and with the teens we worked with. Just like us, kids can wake up on the wrong side of the bed or go through tough times in their lives. For your older adolescent, problems at school could be connected to the struggle of becoming more independent, and the uncertainty of what life will be like after high school has ended. This doesn’t mean that you ignore rude behavior or let them slide when they’re not performing at school; rather, it’s an acknowledgement that these moods and behaviors happen and that you should not take it personally as a parent.
The important thing for you to watch for is how long the problem and lack of motivation lasts and how pervasive it is. Try to understand what may be contributing to your child’s under-performance at school. This will be helpful when you sit down with them to assist in problem-solving the situation.
Note: If your child seems distressed, despondent or sad for a prolonged period of time, or if you suspect they are abusing substances, have them seen by someone with diagnostic skills. Be sure to have a pediatrician rule out any underlying issues that might be causing anxiety or depression.
There are things that all parents can do to help keep their kids motivated in school. Here are five suggestions that can help get your child back on track and across the finish line.
- Don’t give the behavior power: When you yell at your child for lack of motivation, you’re giving the resisting behavior power. As a parent myself, I understand that we all get frustrated and yell sometimes. But understand that it won’t solve the problem. If you’re yelling or arguing with your child over schoolwork, you’re giving him more power in the struggle, and you don’t want to do that. Leave the choices really clear him. Use “I” words instead of “you” words:
- “I want you to get out of bed and get ready for school.”
- “I want you to do your homework now.”
Then leave the bedroom. If your child doesn’t do it, then there should be consequences and accountability. If he says he doesn’t care, don’t get into a power struggle with him over it. Kids will tell you they don’t care even when they do because it gives them a sense of being in control.
Read more at Empowering Parents.
Spring often spells state testing for many districts around the country, so tuning in is a must. Talk with your teen about spring fever in advance to ward off any problems as that mercury goes up!
Staying Motivated Through The Spring
Article: Staying Motivated Through The Spring
Author: Janet Lehman
Source: Empowering Parents