Written by: Cally Worden
Putting the words ‘Teen’ and ‘Motivation’ in the same heading may seem like a non-starter. Adolescents are neither the most responsive nor active of creatures. Yet they inhabit our homes, often leaving chaos in their wake, with apparently little or no care for how their behaviour impacts others. Our teens can be forgiven a little for this lack of concern – brain development, hormones and a host of other physiological developments are taking place inside their rapidly growing bodies. But that doesn’t mean they are off the hook with helping out around the house. Here’s how to inject a little life into your comatose youth and get some help with the chores.
Provide an incentive
Teens are desperately self-centred creatures. Anything that they perceive does not directly impact or involve them is not considered worth the effort. So couching household chores with this attitude in mind can work wonders. They want clean clothes? They need to help with the laundry. They want to eat? Then they can help with the shopping, cooking, cleaning-up, and so on.
Give them a voice
Most teens are seeking to find their place in the world. Knowing that their views matter, that they are valued and can actually make a difference are powerful motivators for them. Trying to force them into your agenda, driven by your motivations is not going to get you anywhere. It’s still up to you as the parent to set boundaries for your teen, so the expectation that they WILL contribute around the house should be a given.
Beyond that you can engage your teen in the discussion about what chores they do, and allow a degree of flexibility about when they are completed. Agreeing reasonable expectations and giving your teen responsibility are great ways to get them interested, as both approaches help to make them feel in control.
Allow them to make mistakes
It is through failure that we learn some of life’s most valuable lessons. Allocating tasks to your teen that involve consequences if they are not completed is a good way to help them test the boundaries. If they don’t do the washing they will have nothing to wear out at the weekend. If they don’t take out the rubbish in time make it their job to manage the overflow implications throughout the following week. Don’t nag them about exam revision – when they fail they will hopefully learn for the next time. Discussing how they feel about such consequences, instead of lecturing, can help your teen organise their emotions.
Be their personal Memory Jogger
With all the brain changes going on in your teen’s head it is normal for them to forget stuff. Often they are not actively choosing to not do the stuff you’ve asked, they have simply, genuinely, forgotten. Helping your teen learn how to be organised is a good life skill to pass on. Teach them about lists, apps that can help them organise their time, and routines that work.
Don’t set them up for failure
Although they like to think they know everything, they really don’t. And presenting them with tasks that may seem simple enough to a grown-up may be setting them up to fail. A job that is too complex may be overwhelming for your teen, sending them into shut-down mode. Help them out if need be by breaking the task down into more manageable chunks.
Do you have any other motivators that have been proven to work with your teen? We’d love to hear about them!