Outreach: Let’s Get Motivated

Teenage boy sleeping while studying at desk

Tips to improve motivation

We have officially made it past the halfway point of the school year! With the excitement of a new school year in the rearview mirror, we have now entered what I like to call the mid-year slump. Take a deep breath and exhale, parents. If your student seems to be less motivated around this time, it’s totally normal!

Students, parents, teachers, all feel the slump—how can we move through it and reignite a spark of motivation? Take a moment and reflect on the start of the school year: what is one thing that everyone had to look forward to? Holiday break, of course! Students (and teachers!) mark their calendars, counting down the days, knowing they have an extended vacation from everyday school stressors.

Here are a few tips to help motivate your child through the second semester of the school year:

• Have something for you and your child to look forward to! The second half of the school year can feel like such a drag. Your child may have a few days off but nothing like that weeklong holiday break from the first semester. This tip can look different for every family. Maybe it’s planning a long weekend family getaway or maybe it’s your child signing up for a second-semester sports team! As you consider what interests your child and think about your family’s situation, what is something that can be planned? Put it on the calendar and count down the days! Give your child a boost of motivation by having something on the horizon to be excited about.

• As we continue to move closer to the end of the school year, your child may be feeling bored with the monotony of their daily routine. Here is where I promote the importance of self care to avoid burnout and increase motivation. Rather than spending hours in the evening behind a screen, plan other enjoyable activities for your child, as well as the family. Go for a walk; play a board game; bake cookies; read a book; have family dinners. Parents, be sure to model this behavior! Make active efforts to get out from behind the screen and engage with your kids!

• Is your child currently struggling to get up and ready for the day, to complete homework, and/or keep their grades up? If so, here comes tip number three: consider a reward system for them! Be certain to involve your child in the creation and planning of the details so that it feels realistic and attainable to both of you. Involving your child holds them accountable as well. Consider creating a rewards system contract where both parties sign off on the agreement. An example would be if your child gets a B or higher on an upcoming math exam, you agree to take them out to dinner with a friend. It provides incentive and therefore, motivation!

If your child is struggling to feel motivated, remind yourself that this is normal behavior for youth and teens. Practice using the tips mentioned above and see if it helps your child move through the mid-year slump. If your child continues to struggle, you may consider connecting them with a professional mental health counselor. Outreach is here for you as your partner in mental health counseling and programs.