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My teenage daughter lacks motivation

My teenage daughter lacks motivation

Casual scribe

My teenage daughter lacks motivation

My daughter, finished school in 2018. I gave her some time to figure out what she wants, but now she has no interest in learning to drive or finding a job or studying something at TAFE.
how do I encourage her without "nagging"

It turns into a screaming match if I try and ask her and talk to her about her job searching as she seems to dislike when I parent or lecture her.

Re: My teenage daughter lacks motivation

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Hi @ELLEJAY1982, this is such a difficult situation that many parents face. It seems to be a sensitive topic for a lot of young adults, so please know that you are not alone. Sometimes changing your approach can help - it is easy to fall into nagging when you want the best for your child. Have you asked her if she needs any help with job searching? Does she know the right keywords to use, how to create a resume/cover letter and what types of jobs she would like to work in? This can be seen as a more indirect approach which actually has a lot of benefit for your teen if they are struggling with these types of things.


You could also offer to make some goals with them for the year and share some of your own experience with job finding, so your teen knows that you understand. You could also try to find more about what is stopping them from finding a job - there can be a lot underneath the surface which may appear as lack of motivation. Job searching can be overwhelming, difficult, scary or even anxiety provoking.


Sometimes any conversation can agitate the situation, no matter what you say. In these cases, it can help to just let your child know that you will be there to support them if they need your assistance. Our community is always here to listen although if you ever find yourself needing more support, you can always call Parent Line Heart Please keep us updated.

Casual scribe

Re: My teenage daughter lacks motivation

Thanks for your help. This is great advice. I will approach her with a more supportive attitude. Thanks
Parent Community Champion

Re: My teenage daughter lacks motivation

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I hear you @ELLEJAY1982  Teens right? My surly girly can send me up the wall.


Firstly, it is important to consider a full health check. Iron levels, mental health, diet etc. It's amazing how simple changes can make a difference. Without know more details I will make a broad suggestion based on reading I have done at


Encouragement is the key to motivation. My teens don't believe everything I say because I use humour too much but if I say it often they come around. Also if I say praise in a roundabout way like, "Thanks for helping with the dishes, it made my day." or "Wow I hadn’t thought of it that way." they can read the subtext. I struggle with the transition of nagging parent to guiding light as they get into their later teens. After all, they're nearly adults so I can only change my behaviour and expectations. However, if they want to be treated as adults then I expect them to carry an adult load around the house. You should see the 20yo cleaning the toilet as he gags. Well...I find it funny...he is not amused.


So steps for motivation watered down for you...


Compliments - People do better when they feel better. Look for ways to let her know how unique she is.

Humour - Teenagers respond to it much better than to lectures and nagging.

Let’s Make A Deal and Using Collateral - Good collateral might be a piece of clothing, an iPod, an iPad, a cell phone, etc. It needs to be an item that has value to your teen.

Motivation Through Involvement – involve her in household tasks, decisions, budgets etc so she can see how she impacts the family.

Joint Problem Solving

  1. Teen shares issues and goals.
  2. Parent shares issues and goals.
  3. If goals of teen and parent are far apart, brainstorm to find options.
  4. Teen and parent pick an option they can both live with and try it out for a short time.

Follow-Through - Follow-through is more complicated and requires more guidance on your part. Follow-through is an alternative to authoritarian methods or permissiveness. With follow-through, you can meet the needs of the situation while maintaining dignity and respect for all concerned.

  1. Have a friendly discussion with your teen to gather information about what is happening regarding the problem. (Listen first and then share your thoughts.)
  2. Brainstorm solutions with your teen. (Use your humour and throw in some exaggerations.) Choose one that both you and your teen can agree to. Finding a solution you both like may take some negotiating, because your favourite solution may be different from your teen's favourite.
  3. Agree on a date and time deadline.
  4. Understand teens well enough to know that the deadline probably won’t be met and simply follow through on the agreement by kindly and firmly holding your teen accountable.

Four Traps That Defeat Follow-Through

  1. Believing that teens think the way you think and have the same priorities you have.
  2. Getting into judgments and criticism instead of sticking to the issue.
  3. Not getting agreements in advance that include a specific time deadline.
  4. Not maintaining dignity and respect for yourself and your teen

Four Hints for Effective Follow-Through

  1. Keep comments simple, concise, and friendly. ("I notice you didn't do your task. Would you please do that now?")
  2. In response to objections, ask, "What was our agreement?"
  3. In response to further objections, shut your mouth and use nonverbal communication. It helps to understand the concept of "less is more." The less you say the more effective you will be. The more you say, the more ammunition you give your kids for an argument—which they will win every time.
  4. When your teen concedes (sometimes with great annoyance), say, "Thank you for keeping our agreement."

Don't hesitate to prepare in advance and maybe even practice.


These are basic ideas but I hope they help. Big hugs. 

Community Manager

Re: My teenage daughter lacks motivation

Hi @JAKGR8, I just wanted to post to say how brilliant this list of tips is for motivating teens- so many insights and approaches from experience!

Have you tried any of these tips before @ELLEJAY1982? If so, how did it go? Did it work for you and your family?


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Parent Community Champion

Re: My teenage daughter lacks motivation

Hi there, I see this is Solved, but I may have a few more things to add to your toolkit.


Have you thought about asking her what she feels in her body when she has to look for a job. If she can tell you that, then she has identified a fear, so you can then ask he directly what is is she fears about applying for job. Is it the writing of the letter or resume, is it the thought of walking into a place and cold calling? Try to unpack some of her fear, and then start with small suggestions of how you can deal with them. Help her write a resume and a letter of introduction. Set up a mock interview with a friend so she can practise talking about herself. Can you identify what gets her animated in conversation, and hook into that as something she really enjoys, and then see if there are  job possibilities, or study possibilities there. 

Be honest with her, tell her what you see are her best attributes, is she friendly and helpful to strangers, does she have a great speaking voice, does she have a great way of arranging flowers in a vase, does the family dog always listen to her when they won't listen to others?! Anything you can say , hey, you do that so well.  I find so often as a teacher that the kids don't know that they can self acknowledge things they do well, so maybe start encouraging that by your praise of the small things she says and does...

Motivating a teen is one of the hardest things to do. Try hard to keep conversation positive, talk about positive things that happened in your day, things about yourself you are pleased with - I got out for a walk this morning- I managed 15 mins of yoga before work today..anything to help change the tone of home.

I hope this helps. 

Community Manager

Re: My teenage daughter lacks motivation

Hi @Faob_1  and @JAKGR8 , 


I just wanted to take a moment to thank you both so much for your detailed and insightful responses, seeing other parents being so generous with their time and expertise really is amazing. So, thank you. 


I think you both give fantastic advice here - I think a lot of parents struggle with how to approach their teens if they are struggling with taking the leap into the world of job hunting. There can also be so much perceived pressure for teens to choose "their path", even when in reality they will probably have 6 or 7 different careers in their working life. And motivating ourselves to do daunting things like job seeking is hard at the best of times, especially if you're living in an area where there may not be a huge amount of opportunities, or where applications may be met with silenc.e 


I hope you're able to keep us posted with how your teenage daughter goes @ELLEJAY1982 . There can be so much pressure on teens to make choices about work and study at the end of high school - hopefully she's found something that she's interested in (even if she ends up changing direction), or has found the courage to start working on her resume and getting those job applications out there! Casual work or volunteering can be a great way to get her foot in the door and increase her confidence - is there any type of work that you think would appeal to her? 

Casual scribe

Re: My teenage daughter lacks motivation

Hi. I may have accidentally pressed solved. I'm new here and still figuring things out.

She has gone away for a week with some friends (her first trip away without family, something else that is giving me anxiety)

I'll give her some time with her friends then approach her with a calmer attitude. ALOT of the comments here so far have been really helpful and have made me think about how I need to talk to her.
Community Manager

Re: My teenage daughter lacks motivation

Hi @ELLEJAY1982 ,


We are so glad to hear that you're finding the responses helpful Smiley Happy I'll have a play around to see if I can remove the "solved", but the thread can still stay active anyway. We have recently done an upgrade of our parents forum, so I'm still learning how it all works too. 


Going away with friends is a big milestone, I think a bit of parental anxiety is totally understandable! I hope she has a nice time away. It sounds like a bit of a break might be a positive thing for everyone- are you able to do anything nice for yourself while she's away? 

Casual scribe

Re: My teenage daughter lacks motivation


I have two younger children (4 and 7) so we have been spending some time together. I also work part time. So trying my best to get some time to myself. I try and get to the gym two/three times a week I find that really helpful.