The old saying goes, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.”
In much the same way, you can lead a teenager to the schoolbooks, but you can’t make them study. Or can you?
As it turns out there are several strategies you can use to encourage your teen to study – in ways that will have them doing the work to succeed.
Start from a position of empathy
Before you launch into one more lecture on the importance of schoolwork, take a minute to listen.
Why is your child not studying in the first place? It might be that some underlying problems are making studying difficult. Sometimes the issue is as simple as not having a clear understanding of the assignment.
Help find a starting point
Like most teenagers, your child is given a variety of homework every day. The problem for many comes when it’s time to sit down and work.
When multiple assignments are pending, it can become difficult to prioritize, especially when everything feels urgent. By sitting down with your teen and making a game plan, you help them to sort out what’s needed now.
You can help them establish a reasonable deadline with several milestones for those larger projects due later.
Check your expectations
It might be your teen is feeling too pressured to be perfect the first time through.
When you live in a household where you’re not allowed to make mistakes, the anxiety that results will eventually keep you from trying in the first place — reward effort, rather than the final grade.
Add in the extra-curricular activities
Initially, this might seem counter-intuitive until you realize that it’s impossible to work well if you never take time to relax and play
The mind and body both need a break.
By signing up for an after-school sport or taking part in something that piques their interest, your teen will feel more rejuvenated and ready to work on other projects such as schoolwork.
Talk out problems
If you see your teen is still consistently not making deadlines or getting things turned in, rather than resorting to a lecture, consider having a discussion instead.
Talk about what’s been going on, and then sit back and listen. Let them explain things as they see it, along with the problems they’ve been having.
Don’t interrupt, as this is their time to express how they feel. Save your comments for when they’ve spoken their piece and are ready to listen.
Ask what’s going on. It might be there’s something else affecting your teen’s ability to work that has nothing to do with the assignment at all.
Getting your teen to study is all about attitude and motivation.
A motivated teenager is a sight to behold.
Once they find something that interests them, they’re great at diving right in with so much energy and enthusiasm that you can’t help but become inspired yourself.
With teens especially though, the problem is that too often they crash and burn. Follow-through is always tricky, but even more so when you’ve already thrown all your energy into the beginning, without saving anything for the end.
How do you encourage your teen to study follow-through when they’re more inclined to give up?
Make a list of possible solutions
By brainstorming together, you combine the best of what age and experience have to offer alongside the fresh and innovative thoughts that they bring to the table.
Then help them to choose a plan for going forward. That might take a little back and forth discussion. You might like something they don’t and vice versa but see if you can come up with something agreeable to both of you.
Put a date on a solution
By giving a timeline, your teen is more likely to stay on track than if they have a more nebulous goal.
Be prepared to deal out the consequences
If they don’t meet a set deadline (and chances are it might not be the first few times, until the teen starts understanding the concept of consequences for their actions),
then you need to be ready to follow through on your part of the bargain.
Remind them that this was part of the goal-setting process and they had agreed to the terms.
While working on following through is a hard concept to learn initially, the long-term value lies in building the habit of not only making goals but meeting them.
It’s a skill your kids are going to need their entire lives, so it’s essential for them to learn this now.
Keep this in mind when you’re tempted to become frustrated if things aren’t going as planned.
- Nagging or criticizing isn’t going to get a positive response.
- Reminding them of the agreement, on the other hand, will.
- You don’t always need to speak to get your point across. Use non-verbals where you can.
- Always thank them when they complete the job.
By working together on these skills, your teen will be better able to approach goal-setting in other aspects of their life. Remember, you’re setting up your child for success, so hang in there. Eventually, they’re going to learn this too.
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