Ep 19: Teenagers and Self-Motivation

Ep 19: Teenagers and Self-Motivation

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Episode Summary

Ned and Bill, the authors of The Self-Driven Child, discuss the difficulties of getting teens motivated about things like homework. They provide a useful framework for helping teens develop self-motivation and self-sufficiency in their lives.

Full Show Notes

Ned Johnson is an elite SAT tutor who specializes in developing self motivation for students who are preparing to take important exams. William Stixrud is a leading neuropsychologist, professor, and expert on the adolescent brain.

Together, they wrote an incredible book called The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives.

This week on the podcast I interviewed Ned and Bill about how parents can help teenagers develop self motivation. How can we raise teens who push themselves to greater and greater heights and won’t just hang up their ballet shoes at the first sign of blisters?

Developing Self Motivation

Ultimately, these experts stress that there are certain areas where most parents should actually be giving teens more freedom and others where most parents already need to be giving less. Bill and Ned break those down and explain how to use “collaborative problem solving” to impose stricter rules.

Also, they reveal how to teach teens things and give teens advice in a way that they will accept. In order to teach teens how to develop self motivation you have to get past their defenses and that requires perfect timing. Learn how to make sure it happens just right.

The 23-minute public version is free to listen to, and the 38-minute extended version, packed with extra goodies, is reserved for site members. Log in or sign up to access everything our site has to offer!

Parenting Scripts

Word-for-word examples of WHAT to say to your teen

1. Get your teen to put together a plan for their life by offering more responsibility:

“You know I think there are probably things I’ve been doing or decisions I’ve been making for you. Are there things you know right now that you’d really like to be in charge of, where I’m kind of doing it too much for you? And maybe we can make some lists of things you’d like to be in charge of. But to help me feel safer with this, because this is a process for me too, I will feel so much safer letting you drive the car of your life if you can tell me what your plan is for all of these things and I won’t have this movie in my head if you going all Thelma and Louise and driving the thing right off the cliff. If I can articulate all the things I’m anxious about and together–mostly you–we can figure out that #yougotthis it’ll make it easier for me to step back a little bit.”

-Ned Johnson

2.  Instead of having a struggle with your teen about their homework, say this:

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3.  Use collaborative problem solving to set limits around technology:

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4.  Before you give your teen advice, affirm their autonomy:

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5.  Before you give your teen advice, affirm their autonomy:

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6.  Encourage mature decision making in your teenager:

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7.  When your teen is struggling with something and feeling down:

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8.  Be an authority, not a dictator:

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9.  Tell your teen that you want to give them more freedom but you need their help:

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Workbook Exercises

Step-by-step guides for applying the ideas from this interview

1.  Create a Homework Consulting Agreement:

Tired of fighting with your teen about homework? Ned and Bill have a simple recommendation. Say you’re done fighting about it. You’ll do whatever you can to help but you aren’t going to care about it more than they do. Then offer to be their homework consultant. Give your teen “office hours” during which you’ll be available each night to help. You might even offer to pay for a tutor if they need extra attention. Make a list of everything you would be willing to do to help your teen with their learning. Also list your office hours and any other restrictions. Label it “Consulting Agreement” and post it on the fridge or bulletin board or somewhere prominent. Here is a sample template: “Homework Consulting Agreement: I agree to give you my full attention and to answer any Homework questions to the best of my ability during the hours of _____. I will also agree to _____. In order to be eligible for these benefits, you must _____.”

About Ned and Bill

This week, our podcast guest is a duo! William Stixrud and Ned Johnson are the authors of The Self-Driven Child: The Science and Sense of Giving Your Kids More Control Over Their Lives.

Ned is the founder of PrepMatters, a tutoring service in Washing DC, and the co-author of Conquering the SAT: How Parents Can Help Teens Overcome the Pressure and Succeed.

A sought-after speaker and teen coach for study skills, parent-teen dynamics, and anxiety management, his work has been featured on NPR, NewsHour, U.S. News & World Report, Time, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal.

William is a clinical neuropsychologist at The Stixrud Group and a faculty member at Children’s National Medical Center and George Washington University Medical School.

He lectures widely on the adolescent brain, meditation, and the effects of stress, sleep deprivation, and technology overload on the brain. He has published several influential scientific articles and is on the board of the David Lynch Foundation.