4 Ways to Motivate an Unmotivated Teen

Teenagers tend to get stereotyped for sometimes being “lazy.” They want to stay up late and sleep in, spend their weekends playing video games during the day and hanging out with friends at night, and maintain a diet of ramen noodles and hot Cheetos. 

While that might be an exaggeration and certainly isn’t true for every teen, most parents understand that it’s normal for their teenager to be a bit unmotivated from time to time. 

But there’s a difference between occasional laziness and a genuinely unmotivated teen. If your teenager never wants to do anything, they don’t show ambition for getting a job, they’re struggling in school, and their relationships are starting to suffer, it could be a bigger problem than you originally thought. 

Thankfully, you can motivate your unmotivated teen with a few effective strategies.

1. Be a Good Role Model

It might seem like your teenager is never watching you for advice, but they are. They’re paying closer attention than you might think. 

So, be an active role model when it comes to getting things done — even when you don’t necessarily feel all that motivated yourself. Have a positive attitude about things like going to work, doing chores around the home, or even spending time with friends and family. 

You are still the best role model your teen could possibly have. Seeing how you handle everyday life and the attitude you have as you tackle your responsibilities can inspire them to be the same way.

2. Notice the Positive Things

It’s hard for anyone to feel motivated when they don’t feel like what they’re doing is “worth it.” Take the time to notice the positive things your teenager does and point them out. That’s especially true for small things. 

Maybe your teenager took out the trash without being asked. Say something like, “I noticed you took the trash outside to the bin, and I really appreciate that.” It might be a small chore, but that recognition will likely make them want to do it again in the future.

3. Develop an Understanding

There could be something deeper going on that’s causing your teen’s lack of motivation. Don’t hesitate to get to the bottom of it, if possible. 

That doesn’t mean you have to nag or criticize them to get to the root cause. Instead, seek to understand what they might be going through. Maybe they’re struggling with some issues at school or within their friend circles. Maybe they’re worried about the future. 

If you think their lack of motivation could be stemming from something else, talk to them. Everyone wants to be heard and understood. It just might take a little extra encouragement for your teen to open up.

4. Motivate Them with Their Interests

You know your teenager better than anyone. If they’re struggling to stay motivated, try starting small by encouraging them with things they already enjoy or are interested in. If they’ve had a certain hobby for years, support it. 

For example, if your teen has always had a love of music, encourage them to get more involved by showing your own interest. That could include anything from going to a record store together to buying them a new instrument. When you’re able to plant small seeds that fuel their interests, the motivation they have for that passion can seep out into other areas of life. 

Seeing your teen struggle with motivation isn’t always easy. But taking the time to help them as much as possible can make a difference in that struggle. Give these tips a try and keep communication with your teenager open so you’ll always have an understanding of how they’re feeling and what they’re going through. 

If nothing else, don’t be afraid to encourage them to reach out and seek support through our teen counseling program. Together, we can help them get to the bottom of why they are struggling to stay motivated.