Your teenager has finished school and the summer holidays are a distant memory... But there seems to be a lack of motivation to get a job. Even the casual job shifts are becoming less and less. You try to find out why, but "I don't care" seems to have become the answer to almost everything.
Does this sound familiar?
Well, while we can't force our children to care, we can try to understand the motivation behind their "don't care" attitude and coach them to help them get back on track.
To start, try to determine where these words and feelings are coming from. Underachievment or a lack of motivation to be successful can be a shield that gives your child a sense of control and power. It's often a reaction to the anxiety felt about failing or stepping up to responsibility. Perhaps your child is scared of competing with other teenagers, or anxious about meeting your (or others') expectations. "I don't care" is an escape from the stress of fulfilling any responsibilities.
Motivate your teens by getting them to explore all their potential career options with the Career Quiz.
As daunting as it seems, you can help your teenager by coaching them to meet their responsibilities and take control of their destiny, despite their fear of failure. Try these tips:
If you're concerned that your child may be depressed, please seek professional medical advice.
- Make them accountable. Don't give your teenagers a free ride. If they aren't out looking for a job or enrolling in further education, then make sure everything they have at home is earned. If you're giving them pocket money, they should earn it by solving problems and challenges around the house. If they have a mobile phone that you pay for, they get credit by achieving tasks you've set for them. If they don't complete their tasks, phone access. Be consistent in the rules you set and the consequences of not abiding by them.
- Talk to your child about what they might want from life. How will they achieve their dreams if they don't get an education or get a job?
- Stay calm and be firm. Don't let them see your frustrations, as it makes them think that they're in control. Instead, make your message very clear. Tell your teenager that their actions and choices matter to you, and that while you can't force them to do anything, you want them to do well and be happy.
- Don't do your teenagers tasks for them! Many teenagers have grown up with mum driving them around, mum making their lunch and mum generally doing everything for them. If this continues, they won't learn independence and take responsibility for themselves. It's important to stop doing things that teens need to do themselves.
- Set deadlines and create structure at home. Tell your teenager what needs to be done and by when. If they don't do it, make sure there are consequences. Do not give them a free ride.
- Be a coach and keep your teenager future-oriented. Tell them when they've done something well. Comment on their progress when deserved. But don't give undeserved praise if they haven't really put much effort in.