After years of working with frustrated and disheartened parents of under-performing adolescents, and repeatedly seeing the failure of their same well-intended but misguided attempts at solutions, I decided to write an ebook addressing this issue.
Below is the introduction to that book. Read it and see if it describes your circumstance with your teenager. If you are interested in finding a more successful approach to motivating your teenager, you can order the book at the price of $9.99 at www.amazon.com.
You’re reading this book because you’re frustrated. You have a highly intelligent son or daughter who is not doing what is necessary for academic success. Their priorities are mixed-up, or they are not taking school seriously, they don’t understand the importance of an education, or they lack motivation to complete their work. You’re not only frustrated; you are worried, perhaps
heartsick. Knowing the relationship between academic success and eventual life satisfaction, you’re anxious that your children will forever be behind life’s eight-ball. You fear that they are digging a hole from which they will not be able to emerge. It’s not just grades that have you worried—it’s their life.
You’re exhausted by the incessant battles over schoolwork. Tired of your daily routine revolving around academic issues, you’re concerned that your relationship with your child has been contaminated by this never-ending focus on all things school-related. The rewards, the incentives, the punishments, the arguments, the screaming matches, the denial of privileges, the groundings—all done in the name of motivation and all unsuccessful—have worn you down.
You wouldn’t be reading this book if your attempts were working. You are an involved, committed, conscientious parent. Your efforts are logical, reasonable, and grounded in common sense. Your well-intentioned efforts to motivate your teenager are beyond all criticism except one: they haven’t worked. They simply haven’t produced the results you had hoped for.
Like most of us human beings, when what we do isn’t working, our tendency is to do more of it, or do it with more intensity, or do it louder. You think, “If the one-millionth time he’s heard this hasn’t worked, maybe the one-million-and-first time will do the trick.” You believe that your persistence will result in your teenager “finally getting it through his head” that he must do better in school. Even when it doesn’t.
There are, virtually without exception, two directions parents take when trying to motivate a recalcitrant adolescent:
‣the application of external consequences (incentives and punishments)
‣words, words, and more words, delivered with increasing emotion
You have probably utilized one or a combination of these efforts. When one punishment hasn’t worked, you’ve tried another and perhaps another, hoping that you’ll find just the right punishment delivered with just the right amount of adversity that the motivational light will go on. And you’ve talked, Lord knows you’ve talked: lectured, sermonized, prodded, cajoled, exhorted, pleaded, explained, threatened, scolded, reprimanded, badgered, painted pictures of dire futures, spoke of flipping burgers—all to no avail.
I have come to believe that parents punish and lecture in this fashion because they don’t know what else to do. They don’t actually expect that it will work (although they hope it might), but they can’t abide the notion of doing nothing in the face of their teenager’s failures.
When your efforts aren’t working (and yours aren’t, or you wouldn’t be reading this) what’s called for is a change in course. That is what this book provides. Grounded in both research and common sense regarding motivation, we will explore:
‣why your efforts aren’t working
‣why teenagers aren’t motivated by rewards, punishments, or pleas to logic.
‣why teenagers decide to change
‣what you can do to encourage this change
‣what you need no longer do because it won’t work
‣how to never argue with your teenager about school (or for that matter, anything) again.
Let's get started.