Motivation for teenagers

At this time of year, there is huge pressure on our teenagers taking GCSEs and A Levels. I have one taking A Levels myself so I feel your pain! Mention it even once and you're nagging - "shut up Mum", "stop going on about it", "it won't make any difference you going on about it".

I've tried obscure references such as "would you like me to bring you a cup of tea and a sandwich while you're studying?" - that does seem to be acceptable, except that when I bring them in, he's watching a film...

There are however a few really useful techniques that can be used with better results.

5 techniques to motivate during exam season

1. Chunking up and chunking down

Big chunk is when we see the big picture - why we are studying, what it's all for, our future plans - but sometimes all a student can see is the pile of books, the endless work and the ceaseless reminders that they don't have long before the exams. These are the small chunk bits, and students can feel they're drowning in these small chunks, struggling to get any motivation for the big chunk. If you feel your teenager is feeling this then help them by saying things like "imagine what university will be like", or "how much money do you think you'll make as an engineer/lawyer/manager?".

If on the other hand, all they can see is the big picture but the 'how to get there' small chunks seem to be missing, ask them to break down the big chunks into smaller ones; "so in order to get to university, what are the steps? Let's write them down and tick them off as we do them".

2. Timeline

Some teenagers may find it helpful to draw or walk a timeline. Ask them to imagine a line along the floor that goes from, at one end, their birth and early years, and at the other end, when they're really old (I usually say about 50!).

Then ask them to stand at the point on the timeline that represents 'today'. As they stand on that point, ask them to tell you how they feel right now about their exams. They may find it easier if they close their eyes and 'tune in'. As they associate into this point, what do they see, what do they hear and what do they feel? Is this feeling located somewhere in the body? If so, where? Is there a colour? What is the feeling, does it have a name? How intense is it?

Now ask them to go to a place on the timeline when they will feel happier and feel good about life. When they are on that spot, ask them to do the same thing; see hear and feel what's going on at this point as if it's happening right now. Maybe they are at Uni - are they having fun, is it interesting? Are they making new friends? Maybe they have a job - what is it? Where are they working? What's good about it?

Then move on into the future - what's the next step they want to make? Repeat the process associating into the moment and tuning into what's going on in their life as if it is happening now. When you've got them some way up their timeline, maybe to age 50+, ask them to stand there and turn towards the point which was 'today' when they started. Is there anything they'd like to say to the 'you' of today? What does their younger self need? Are there any reassurances they want to give them, any advice?

You may be surprised by how much more motivated they feel once they've got a feeling of where their life could go and a sense in which this time now may be hard, but it is just a short period if they think about their life overall.

3. Logical levels of change

Draw a pyramid with from top to bottom:

  • purpose
  • identity
  • values and beliefs
  • skills
  • behaviour
  • environment

Ask your teenager to write down their purpose in life, life goal etc, then 'who they are' who can do this, their values and beliefs that support the goal, skills, what they are actually doing to get there, and where they're doing it. Then go back up, seeing if there is any way to make any changes to better support the goal. I find teenagers can often be quite creative about making changes to better equip themselves to meet their purpose.

4. Visualisation

When we can visualise success, it's so much easier to attain it. Ask your teenager to create a vision board using pictures and words from magazines to represent what they want from life. This is a good thing to have up in their room as a reminder of what they're working towards. Another way to visualise is to use the way our eyes connect with parts of the brain. When we look up to the right and visualise our future, we can get a picture in our head of what it might look like. When we glance more to the right at ear height, we can imagine what we might hear when we are successful and by looking down and to the right, how we will feel. Left-handers need to reverse this.

5. EFT tapping

Locate the feeling in the body - fear, panic, worry or whatever.

Give it a number 0-10 of intensity and give it a colour.

Now do the 'set up' using the emotion they've mentioned. Let's say it is fear of failure.

Take the hand in a karate style. Fingers outstretched at right angles to the body, using two fingers of the other hand, tap on the fleshy part of the hand saying "I feel this fear of failure and it's (colour), and it's in my (part of the body), but I know I'll be fine". Repeat three times.

Now tap through the tapping points:

  • top of the head
  • the side of the eye above the nose
  • the other side of the eye near the ear
  • under the eye
  • under the nose
  • under the mouth
  • under the collarbone
  • under the arm

As you tap, repeat the reminder phrase - fear of failure (make sure you use their exact words - not a paraphrase). Go round twice and then check in with the intensity, colour, location in the body. It may well have moved, and other emotions may well have come up.

Tap round again with the new words. Keep going until the intensity is reduced to one or two.

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Written by Judy Bartkowiak - Family Therapy with NLP and EFT

Judy Bartkowiak is an NLP and EFT therapist working with children, teens and parents using art and play therapy to improve confidence, overcome limiting beliefs, ease grief, fear, anxiety and anger.

She sees clients in Burnham/ Bucks, Hove/Sussex and Woking/Surrey & online using Skype/Zoom/Facetime/Whatsapp.

Also NLP Kids Practitioner Trainer.… Read more

Written by Judy Bartkowiak - Family Therapy with NLP and EFT

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