How to Motivate Teenagers to Do Their Homework

If you are a parent with a teen child, you will know how hard it is to get them to work. Most teens need no help doing things that they are interested in, be it gaming, shopping, or hanging with friends. But when it comes to homework, giving them a push can mean the difference between a zero and an A+. Here are a few tips to help you motivate your teen.


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    Try to understand why your teen does not want to do his or her work. There are many reasons why a teen may not want to do their homework. Are they absorbed in some other task? Are they planning on going out with friends? Or maybe they're just obsessed with playing a video game. Whatever it is, knowing the cause is the best way to counter. Remember that a lot of trust is involved with raising a teen. Put them in the position where you are trusting them, and if they violate that trust, it is nobody's fault but their own.
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    Consider emotional factors. Some situations may require more nuance. Difficult assignments might be avoided due to motivational style. Anxiety can also contribute, where fear of not doing well paradoxically causes one to just not do the work. If laziness or distractions don't seem to be the main factors, consider talking more in depth with your teen about what's going on.
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    Bring their backpack to them. This may seem ridiculous to you, but it can work. Teens are lazy by nature. It can be all the more difficult to get them to work if what they need is downstairs and they are comfortable on the couch upstairs. Sometimes, teens will forget about work, simply because it is not in sight. As they say, "out of sight, out of mind."
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    Remember that homework is not top priority. To teenagers, the most important things are friends and hobbies. Homework is a by-product of school, and nobody likes it. Undoubtedly, your teen will have friends that completely blow off all of their work, and this can be a negative influence. Show them that they can be cool and have good grades, not one or the other. Do this by telling them stories about when you were a child, tests that you failed and homework that you did not turn in. Don't make it seem like you are encouraging not turning in the work, but your teen will look at you differently when he or she knows that you were just like them at their age.
    • If you don't have good stories because you were one of those people who turned everything in, make some up. Don't make them completely out of the realm of normality, but show them that you turned out alright and you want them to be even more successful.
    • If you are a single parent, read all you can about identifying with your teen one a personal level. Teens who see their parent as the "annoying adult" will be even less likely to listen.
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    Discuss consequences. If they are planning on going out with friends, don't nag them to get the homework done beforehand, but let them know that if they fail any assignments, they will not hang with friends outside of school for a week. The same applies if they want to do something like go skateboarding or something like that. Allow them to go, but with conditions.
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    Use positive guidance techniques. Teens can feel loved "conditionally," which means that they only think you approve of them when they do a good job. This can lead to depression and bitterness. Try to be as positive as possible. If a teen comes up to you and tells you something really terrible, like they failed a unit test or something, be understanding. It took a lot of courage for them to work up the nerve to tell you this. The the cooler you are with it, the more likely they are to come and talk with you on a regular basis.
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    Make them start. This seems obvious, but it is not as simple as you may think. Instead of telling him/her to "go start you homework," bring them to the computer or their work space and sit down next to them. Don't give up and walk away. Just sit there, next to them, and violate their personal space until they open their notebook or laptop and start their work. Watch to make sure he/she really starts. Sometimes, it is that simple push that they need. Once they are on a roll, you can walk away and let them continue.
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    Monitor their computer history. If they are working on a computer, watch to make sure that they don't stray. You can also set parental controls and restrictions on their Internet access. Especially on a Mac computer, you can monitor these things remotely.
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    Don't be over expecting, as though they should be as perfect as you. If teens forget certain chores or assignments, it does not mean they are irresponsible. It means they are teenagers. Don't nag (see below) but give them reminders in a good humored way. Use your sense of humor and remind without saying anything. Point, use charades, or write a note and leaving on their door or chair. If you have to say something, ask, "What was our agreement?"
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    Don't nag. This will invite teens to resist. As stated above, be kind and firm. This is a lot more effective than showing anger or lecturing. For example, Brainstorm with your teen. Teenagers are a lot more inclined to follow a plan that they came up with themselves.
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    Address each issue specifically. These can be laziness, boredom, social responsibilities, or too much media consumption.
    • If your teen is being lazy, ask them to get up and do something that they will enjoy for a few minutes. Once they are off of their butt, it might become very much easier to get them to go and get their work.
    • If your teen simply dislikes the subject, "confide in them" that it's only a semester and they will never have to take that subject again. Have them bring their work to a couch where the two of you can sit together and discuss the questions and answers together. Judge the scope of your teen's understanding, then challenge them to do the work. For example, tell him/her that you have to use the restroom, and while you're gone, ask them to do two or more questions/answers on their own.
    • Remember (step 3) that homework is not as important to them as their friends. If your teen has plans to hangout with friends, have a plan of action to do the homework. Most teens will do their best not to let you down in exchange for going to be with their friends.
    • If your teen is already sitting at the computer, but simply is surfing or doing other things, have them get off. Force them off by standing there and watching them until they turn the computer off. Offer then to take them out to spend some of their money, which always will make teens happy, or take them out for ice cream. It does not have to be a long outing, but getting them out of the "surfing" mood can make all of the difference.
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    Sit back and relax. Responsible adults were not necessarily responsible teens. Remember those days when you were going through the same thing? Allow your teen to learn from their failure, which is an excellent motivator. Just keep track of their progress to make sure that they do not fail too much.


  • Check your Progress book. Whatever it is called by you, if your school system provides an online grade book, take advantage of it. Check up regularly, (at least twice a week), and notice when grades rise and fall, as well as missing assignments. Work with your teen to come up with plans to raise grades and do well on tests.
  • See the provided link. The website provided below is a good source that also has products and booklets to help you with your teen.
  • Surprise your teen. Surprise them by taking them out or telling them completely unexpected things such as how much you love them. Another thing you can do to win respect from your teen is to tell them that you will let them stay home from school, completely scott free, for ONE school day, provided they do not have large tests.
  • This is advice for a bad student who clearly shows poor guidance from the start. The only way to get kids to do what they have to in order to be successful (even if they might not like it) is to instill the necessity too do well into their minds at a young age.

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Categories: Helping Children with Homework