Motivation and Organization for Adolescents!
In my last post, I discussed the difficulties parents and children often experience with staying organized and managing a hectic schedule. I described some tips to help your elementary and middle school children stay motivated and avoid that mid-year slump. Here are some tips geared toward older children and adolescents!
Get Them Engaged
The key to boosting adolescents’ motivation and organization is to get them engaged. This means getting your adolescent interested in trying new tools and strategies. Try having a non-judgmental conversation (by asking open-ended questions) about what he/she would like to improve in the coming weeks of school and help set small and realistic goals (i.e. “I would like to get my homework done earlier in the day”). Then, encourage your adolescent to come up with their own ideas about how to reach that goal. If they generate the ideas, they will be much more likely to follow-through!
If your teen needs more guidance on staying organized, begin coaching them on the importance of writing things down. Here are some suggestions:
- Try a whiteboard – For the younger adolescent, try putting a large whiteboard on the back of a bedroom door to provide visual reminders of tasks and important dates. To increase interest in this new system, encourage your adolescent to decorate the board and add fun upcoming events (like a friend’s birthday party)
- Use a daily planner – Once your adolescent has used a whiteboard or wall calendar, he/she will be prepared for more sophisticated tools such as a daily planner. Engagement is key, so allow your teen to try whatever tool they are familiar with, such as a hard-copy planner or an app on their phone
- Checklists – Show them how to create checklists and to-do lists in their daily planner or on their phone and include estimated time frames for finishing tasks
Organize the Entire Family
An important part of helping your adolescent learn organizational strategies is to model good organization yourself. Families often have to coordinate many weekly events such as appointments, extracurricular activities, meal planning, and travel. Consider setting up a “command center” to help the family coordinate calendars and to-do lists. This “command center” could be a physical communication board (with a calendar) in the house, or could be a collaborative smart phone app, such as Wunderlist or Cozi, that allows you to set up shared family calendars and lists. A list of 10 popular family planning apps can be found here. Hold family meetings to get input and encourage your adolescent to take charge of adding their appointments and lists to the command center.
Last time, I discussed how routines, incentives, and coordination with teachers can set your child up for success. Those elements are also helpful for adolescents, but they should be encouraged to take more ownership of their schedules and tasks. The tips above provide you with a good place to start to help you boost motivation and organization mid-year.