In our research and coaching sessions with adolescents and parents, YTN came to some surprising conclusions:
- Less then 30% of youth had goals of their own for their lives and academics. Most felt pressure or had performance expectations from their parents that left many kids ages 8 to 18 feeling like they consistently fell short. As a result many had little internal desire to achieve good grades and instead were frustrated by the pressure and expectations of their parents. Given the oppositional nature of the adolescent brain, expectations and external pressure actually contributed to the motivation issues parents were trying to address.
- Because of the changes that occur in the adolescent brain, the approach parents have been trained to use regarding homework and academic motivation can have an inverse effect. Such an approach will frequently trigger the oppositional nature of the adolescent brain producing a defensive or inverse outcome. Many of the youth we interact with who have significant motivation issues arrive at a point of not caring. This in fact is a natural defense mechanism that protects them from a sense of falling short and failure. If they do not care or make an effort, then the outcome does not impact their self- perspective nearly as much and helps them buffer themselves from the predicted response of their parents. In short they grow numb.
- Even youth that have given up still have a desire to succeed. In our adolescent coaching and research we frequently have the opportunity to talk with youth that are greatly struggling. In every case, once through their defense barrier, we find they still desire to succeed, but have often experienced a complete crash of their internal confidence and belief that they can succeed. Thus, why try? These youth often turn to other escapes that mask their sense of failure. Escape takes on many forms ranging from social media and video games where they escape into an artificial reality, feel accepted and successful, to pornography and substance abuse that provide temporary relief from self-doubt and the pain of failure.
To address deeper motivation issues parents need to alter their approach to come alongside their kids. Many parents struggle when they change their approach due to years of habits and simply not knowing where to start and how to open up real communication with their kids. The Secrets of Influential Parenting helps parent target the deeper things that lead to common behavior and motivation issues.