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How Do You Deal With An Underachiever?

I know how exhausted and frustrating you can get from arguing and fighting when you’re kid isn’t doing their homework. It’s hard to get your head around why your kid doesn’t seem to care. It can drive us crazy!

Well, I just want you to know momma that you’re not alone! I have been there and, you’ve come to the right place!


You may be reading this and be wondering if your kid is going to flunk a class, graduate from high school, or grow up and care about anything. And as a parent that is scary. (for more of my story to bring you comfort and some insights click HERE)


And, here’s what I’ve learned….


There are two common mistakes moms make when it comes to attempting to motivate their kids.


See if you relate to any of these….


#1 Fear is in the driver’s seat.


If you have an unmotivated tween or teen this can be a source of worry and fear and even despair. 


The problem with fear, is it fuels our reactivity. And when fear is in the driver’s seat we are never very effective in our approach. 


We wind up caring more than they do and it becomes a power struggle. We nag, we lecture, we give them doomsday predictions of what might happen if they don’t study. Basically, we attempt to twist their arm all to no avail. And then it frustrates us that much more and it causes a huge wedge in the relationship. 


The truth…tweens and teens are huge resistors (especially our strong-willed kiddos!) It doesn’t work. They will only dig their heels in that much more.


#2 You believe that on some level it’s your fault if your kid isn’t studying, doing their homework, or appears to care less if they’re failing.


As parents, we often feel responsible for our kid’s choices and outcomes. 


The problem with believing the lie that it’s somehow our responsibility to motivate our kids to want certain things, is then we jump into their “yard” when we’re not invited.  This only causes them to resist and push up against us when we attempt to control their outcomes. This approach will not motivate them.


We simply can’t make our kids do anything – unfortunately. It will backfire every time. 


What you can do instead…


When it comes to raising our tweens and teens, we need to repeat the mantra…

“My kid has choices. They know what is best for them and they need to be the ones to experience the consequence of their choices – both positive and negative. This is how they learn. It’s not my job to carry this burden for them. If I care too much they won’t have to care.  I will not rob them of this growth opportunity because reaping the consequences of their choices can be a huge lesson in how the real world works. The sooner they learn this lesson the better. They need to experience it themselves.” Now repeat that daily 3 times.


Seek to understand “the why.”

Here are some questions to ask yourself – 

Why might they be struggling?

Do they have a learning difference?

Do they struggle with executive functioning?

Could your tween or teen be unmotivated because you are giving them unlimited privileges regardless of them not putting in the effort or work to do what is expected of them?


Ask yourself “what” – 

What might they need?

What skills are they lacking?

What support can you get them? 

Can you have them stay after school, find them a tutor, get them tested, or have a 504 or IEP put in place?

Do you know what motivates them?

What are some boundaries that you can set? What rewards might you put in place?


When an approach isn’t working ask yourself what you might do differently and see what happens. Just doing this can make a huge difference!

Remember, it’s a process for our kids and for us to figure these things out.  And we here at Moms of Tweens and Teens are here to support you.

For more tips and strategies to help you stop homework battles and motivate your tween or teen check out our FREE Course on our MOTTs University below!

How to Stop Homework Battles and Raise Responsible, Accountable, and Successful Kids.



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