by Chris Taylor, MFT, Author “Back to Basics”


Motivating your teen can be one of the most difficult and frustrating tasks for a parent.  If your teen is outwardly defiant or even disrespectful then all bets are off for what works to get them to follow through on the most basics tasks, such as, chores or homework. The good news is that there are effective techniques that can have your teen following through while you sit back and relax.



Motivation is based on what we attach value to.  The old way of trying to ensure teens follow through was to slam them with a consequence.  Well the new generation of teens are smarter and don’t care about consequences most of the time.  Sure they may initially throw a fit and yell and scream but generally they fall into apathy quickly and parents feel hopeless that their approach failed.  So here are the 3 ways to ensure your teen is motivated without nagging, arguing or using consequences.


1.   Understand that we all need to feel in control of meeting our own needs. The need for connection to others is a primary motivator for teens, so incentivize connection to others as a reward for their compliance.  Do this by setting phone, online video games and access to the car as privileges they can earn

2.  Set deadlines and predictable schedules for when things are to be completed.  Do this and your teen has some control and choice in when to do the task. As long as it completed by the deadline, they get to meet their larger need.  If it’s not, then it was their choice. At first, they will blame, but remain calm and tell them they know what to do tomorrow to access the privilege (need)

3.  Create the plan with their voice and you ensure buy in.  It’s not you dictating to your teen, its partnering with your teen for success.  Let go of the kid model of power control and allow for the focus to shift towards a relational model where opinions are valued and encouraged to be shared.


Put these three components into a plan and your teen will be self-motivating themselves to meet all their responsibilities.  It is truly a win-win.  As a bonus, don’t be afraid to revisit the plan and allow for changes and renegotiation if needed.