How to Motivate Teens to get Good Grades

Provide Extra Incentives for Teens Who Need Extra Motivation

Teenage girl (14-16) using laptop at home, side view
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Some teens care deeply about the grades they receive on their report cards. They study hard, complete their homework without being told and put in plenty of effort all on their own. These students are intrinsically motivated to get good grades.

There are plenty of other students, however, that just don’t have that internal drive to get good grades. They may decide a project just isn’t worth the effort and might be willing to accept a zero.

They may forgo studying to watch TV or may lack the ambition to spend a sufficient amount of time completing an assignment. Teens who lack motivation to get good grades may need some extra help to become motivated to do their work.

Create Healthy Homework Habits

If your teen isn’t motivated to study and do his homework on his own, you’ll need to intervene and provide more structure. Some teens need help with time management while other teens to know how to rid themselves of other distractions so they can concentrate on their work.

Establish clear rules about homework. For example, consider setting aside a designated homework time each evening. Also, problem-solve with your teen about how he can get his homework done each evening. Sometimes teens have ideas about what would be helpful to them.

    Implement Rewards

    Teens who aren’t self-motivated to work hard on their homework and get good grades, may need some extra incentives from parents. Provide positive reinforcement that will motivate your teen to keep working hard, even when he doesn’t feel like it.

    If you want your teen to stay motivated, avoid offering a big reward at the end of the school year.

    Most high school students aren’t able to think that far into the future to stay motivated. Instead, of saying, “I’ll buy you an iPod if you get a B average on your report card,” establish smaller goals with more immediate rewards.

    For some teens, a weekly goal can be implemented. For example, say, “If you get all your homework passed in on time this week, you can go to the movies with your friends over the weekend.” This will provide a teen with an incentive and a reachable goal.

    Other teens may need even more immediate rewards. A teen who really lacks motivation may do best with a daily reward. For example, tell your teen he can earn privileges, such as watching TV or using his phone, only once he has completed his homework. Use privileges as an incentive to help motivate him to get his work done.

    How to Use Rewards to Encourage Good Behavior

    Concerns About Rewarding Teens for School Work

    I hear a lot of parents express concerns about giving teens rewards for doing their work. Sometimes parents will say, “Why should I give my child a reward for something they should be doing already?” Well, if your child isn’t motivated on his own an extra incentive may be what it takes to help him get the work done.

    After all, as adults, most of us receive incentives to do things we may not want to do. For example, most adults go to work so they can earn a pay check. Some teens see their report card as a pay check and are motivated to earn good grades. Other teens just don’t view their report card as an incentive and they need extra incentives along the way.

    Rewards don’t need to be big or expensive. Instead, you can use the privileges your teen most likely receives already and just make those incentives contingent on getting school work done. 

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