F AMI LY
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YOUR TEEN, TRANSLATED
Poor coyote thought the same thing, when he dropped the anvil over the cliff. But *meep-meep!* Roadrunner was always a step ahead of him, with the springboard in place to bounce that weight back up in Wile E.’s face. So…sorry, mom and dad, but…wrong. The car-ascarrot won’t work.
of PART II
Or rather, it won’t work over the long term. It might net an honor roll or two, because a lure that big can produce a temporary shot of effort. But the issue beneath the lack of motivation will live on in your teen’s psyche, ready to hide in the basement playing video games 16 hours a day. That’s because the kid turned on the jets to get the car, but not to get the thing you want them to be striving for: an interest in learning, in achieving. What does work is simple in words, but a challenge in practice: listening without an agenda, and uncovering your kid’s true long-term objectives.
© Viacheslav Iacobchuk | Dreamstime.com
WHEN I TELL YOU MOTIVATION IS THE ISSUE PARENTS
reach out to me about, I’m telling you. It is the issue. And these poor parents, they’ve morphed themselves into Wile E. Coyote, devising tricks to get their kids to do what they want: work harder, care more, bring up their grades. Some parents use the Come to Jesus strategy. Others use the “no cell phone until your homework is done” approach. Some lucky teens have a parent who dangles the two-ton reward: “We’ll buy you a car if you get honor roll.” If that last one doesn’t work, nothing will, right?
L K N e x p e rt
Cyndy Etler is a contributing and freelance writer for Lake Norman Woman Magazine. An award-winning young adult author and a board-certified teen life coach, you can connect with Cyndy at www.theteenlifecoach.com.
That listening bit. It’s hard for all of us, but especially for parents. The adult knows what’s right for their child, right? Sure, when the kid is young and dumb enough to put their hand on the stove. But when they hit adolescence and start developing their own values and interests separate from their families’, it’s time to turn off our own ideas on what they “should” want and do, and start asking them what they want…and help them flesh out their answers. When a kid realizes we’re deeply curious about what they have to say, we can help them tap into their own personal idea of an ideal future. And once that thrilling vision is sugarplum-dancing around on their mental screen, their internal motivation revs up, like, “This! Want this!”
From there, with the right questions, we can help a kid backwards-build the roadmap on how to achieve it, from big, long-term goals to mini, short-term ones…and I’ll betcha thirty bucks that, on the right-now end of the map, the short-term goals will include high grades in their current classes. And the best part is that this process? It’s no wily trick; it’s the psychology behind building motivation. No anvil required! w WRITER CYNDY ETLER
Lake Norman Woman Magazine October 2019