How to Motivate a Teenager in 2022 [10 TIPS THAT WORK]

Does your child appear to have no motivation at all? As a parent, you might often struggle with how to motivate a teenager. Adolescence is a critical period of life. Parents and often teachers can find it challenging to motivate teenagers since they are prone to distraction. 

The key to motivating teens is encouraging them by fueling their inner motivation. In this post, we will be going through 7 tips you can start doing today to motivate your teens.

How to Motivate an Unmotivated Teenager

How to Motivate an Unmotivated Teenager

Every teenage girl and boy are different, and their reasons for feeling unmotivated can vary, too. Generally speaking, here are some tips on how to motivate an unmotivated teenager. Put this information through the lens of your own teen’s life and experiences, and you’ll be able to come up with some effective things to try.

It can feel discouraging if you’re putting in a lot of effort to motivate a teenager who doesn’t seem interested, and sometimes that means digging in and uncovering a deeper problem, like if they’re dealing with teenage anxiety, depression, stress, and so on.

1. Respect Your Teenager’s Freedom

Teenagers are continuously in the process of discovering their personality, individuality and passions. Even if your teenagers are not adults, they are still well aware of autonomy and freedom as they grow up. 

Teens might often feel powerless or unmotivated due to strict rules and daily schedules imposed on them. Hence, instead of imposing rules and regulations, give them freedom of choice to feel motivated to work hard. However, this doesn’t mean you have to let them do whatever they want to.

One easy method to deal with this is to decide rules and consequences together with your teens. This way, they will know that you value their opinions.

2. Listen to Your Teen

listen to your teenager

Being a parent, you need to understand what your teen is trying to communicate. Dig deep into your kid’s heart to find out what motivates him and what could be the barriers relating to it. 

You can try asking questions to know what might bother your teen. The deeper you tap into their thoughts, the more you will understand why they feel unmotivated. And the better you will know how to resolve those issues.

3. Focus on the Journey Instead of the Destination

Parents need to understand that motivating teenagers is not something they can achieve overnight. Performing well at school or in the social circle is important, but life is more than that.

Encourage teenagers to focus on the process of becoming responsible and motivated adults. Moreover, teach them to take setbacks as lessons and learn from them. This will help them to face new challenges without any fear.       

4. Believe in Your Teenager’s Capability and Agency

As your children’s caregiver, you know what they are capable of and their limitations. But one thing you might not realize is that your teenager’s confidence is directly linked to their motivation. 

Suppose teenagers feel bad about themselves or see others as more capable; this clearly indicates that they devalue their own potential & lack enough motivation. 

For this reason, you need to be your teenagers’ biggest cheerleader. Tell them you believe in them and their abilities, no matter how small or big they are. Boost their self-esteem by encouraging them to step out of their comfort zone and try new activities.

5. Empathetic Communication is The Key

communicating with a teenager

Try to communicate with your teens and listen to what they want to say even if you don’t like what they are talking about. Promote empathetic conversations instead of long and boring lectures. Creating this atmosphere will make your teens feel understood and valued.

If you don’t approach them with empathy, they’ll probably be even less likely to want to tell you what’s going on in their life, why they’re struggling, and so on. Keep the communication open by seeing where they’re coming from, and trying to imagine how difficult it may be for them, to deal with whatever they’re going through that’s holding them back.

Lack of empathy can lead to anger, and if your teenager is already prone to angry or emotional outbursts, this can make it very difficult to move forward in a healthy conversation. Consider learning some anger management activities for teens.

6. Avoid Rewards and Punishments

Usually, parents would use rewards and punishments to motivate their teens. But what they really don’t know is that these strategies only work for a short time.

Indeed reward or punishment can compel teens to complete a task; however, they would not know the value of hard work in the longer run. 

Punishments and rewards will make your teenagers focus on the outcome instead of the process. As we are talking about instilling a love for learning in our teens, we must avoid such strategies. 

7. Encourage Them to Set Reasonable Goals

Teenagers have a lot of things going on in their minds. As adults, we might not realize that life for many teens is not easy. Sometimes they have a lot of things on their plate. Teenagers’ stress can range from getting into their favorite college to making it to the college basketball team.

The best thing you can do here is to teach your teenagers to divide their goals into smaller milestones. In addition, you can also tell them to write their short-term and long-term goals on a checklist. Each time they attain a goal, they will have a sense of accomplishment and feel motivated to move forward.   

8. Use Routines

How to Motivate a Teen
Use routines to help motivate a teen.

Routines are a helpful way to build habits. It can take a lot of diligent work and effort at first, for teenagers to develop new habits, but after a week or two they’ll start to turn into routines and become just a normal part of their day.

9. Don’t Put Too Much Pressure on Your Teenagers

You want the best for your teenager, and you know that motivating a teenager is a crucial part of setting them up for a life where they reach outside their comfort zones and accomplish fantastic things.

But putting too much pressure on them to live by your standards, or to follow the path you’re setting for them, can lead to them resenting you and you could be taking away their fulfillment in favor of your own.

10. Let Them Live and Learn

If you’re making every little thing, or every little mistake, feel like the end of the world then they could develop a sense of impending doom that makes it really difficult to get motivated. Make sure they know that mistakes happen, and that the fear of failure and letting it paralyze them is worth than actually failing.

Motivation can come and go, but instilling strong values and work ethic and self-confidence is a gift that will last your teens for the rest of their lives and will benefit them immensely.

How to Motivate a Teenager with ADHD?

How to Motivate a Teenager with ADHD

How to motivate a teenager with ADHD is a challenging task as it is a neurodevelopmental disorder. 

The best way to motivate teenagers with ADHD is to let them do things for whatever reason they want to. Try to encourage and praise them for the tiniest effort they make. Lastly, do not set goals for them; let them set the goals they want for themselves.

If it’s becoming a big hindrance and they’re having trouble working around it, speak to a professional who can help them learn to cope with ADHD and take any additional steps that could help them.

How to Motivate a Teenager with Anxiety?

Lack of motivation can be a major symptom of mental illnesses like anxiety. Teenagers are prone to anxiety due to many reasons, including; negative thought patterns, the stress of puberty, trauma, and their environment.

To motivate a teenager with anxiety, you have to eliminate their anxiousness first. For that, you need to encourage your teen to discuss his anxieties and appreciate his brave behavior. Talking about anxieties can reduce the amount of anxiety and will assure your child that he is acknowledged. 

FAQ: How to Motivate Teenagers

How to motivate an unmotivated teenager at school?

To motivate unmotivated teenagers at school, reward them for their effort and not for the outcomes. Listen to them and understand why they are feeling that way. Lastly, please encourage them to believe in themselves and their abilities.

Can lack of motivation be associated with ADHD?

Dopamine levels are lower in kids with ADHD. This affects their brain’s ability to manage or recognize rewards. Without reward recognition, the body won’t be motivated to go in any direction.

As a result, teenagers with ADHD lack motivation. To understand how to motivate a teenager with ADHD, read the above post.

What factors can decrease my teen’s motivation?

Factors like peer pressure, insufficient support, increased workload, high expectations, and emotional burden can decrease motivation in teenagers. 

Final Thoughts on How to Motivate a Teenager

Start working on these tips mentioned in this article if you are looking for how to motivate a teenager. As a result of these tips, your teen will regain the motivation to thrive and fulfill their goals, ambitions, and things that are necessary to move forward in their lives.

Mat Woods

Author Information

Mat Woods is the lead writer at He works tirelessly alongside the rest of the team to create useful, well-researched, trustworthy articles to help parents and their teens.