Understanding the Unmotivated Teen


The thing I see teens and parents argue most about is the teen not following through on parental expectations. These arguments can lead to withdrawal of the teen from the family and start a trend toward the teen seeming unmotivated. First and foremost, parents need to be clear with themselves about what is a parental expectation and what is something they simply want their teen to do. I often observe parents delivering requirements to their teens in the same way they deliver “wants,” which is confusing to the teenager. They can’t understand why we get so mad about this one simple thing when we’ve asked them to do lots of things and haven’t gotten angry before. So, when asking our teens to do something, make sure to be clear when it is an expectation that will have consequences.

In this podcast, Dr. Justin Parker, Clinical Director of 3-C Family Services, addresses a common complaint of parents about their teens' apparent lack of motivation. Dr. Parker earned his PhD in school psychology from NC State and has worked in both the public school system as well in private practice. He has worked extensively with parents and children and adolescents with special needs in the areas of academic/school difficulties, disruptive behaviors and ADHD. His child-centered therapy is aimed at ensuring child/adolescent buy-in and conveys the message that his role is to work with the child/adolescent rather than dictate to them what they are to do. By working with parents in addition to their children, Dr. Parker is able to problem-solve difficulties they are experiencing with their child/adolescent and provide concrete strategies that can be used in the home, including the presentation and practice of behavior management strategies.


About Author

Page Cvelich

College/Teen Program Manager

Page Cvelich has brought a wealth of knowledge to the Work/Life Center from prior experience as a high school guidance counselor and parent education coordinator. Page has been responsible for setting up a high school college and career center, designing a career exploration program for teens and serving as a counselor at a backpacking camp in the Rockies. In her role as Teen/College Program Manager, Page enjoys interacting with small groups of parents and teens, as well as consulting one-on-one with parents and referring them to resources so that they are better able to provide the support and encouragement their kids need.

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