Dear Your Teen:
My 13-year-old daughter is in 8th grade. She gets great grades—all A’s. When we talk about high school she doesn’t seem to show any initiative to challenge herself. She seems content to take lower level classes rather than the harder classes, which I believe she is capable of handling. How can I help my unmotivated teenage daughter become more motivated about academics without harping?
Unmotivated Teenage Daughter: Where to Start?
Teens love to be asked for their opinions and input. My first suggestion for talking with your daughter is that you ask what her thoughts are about whether or not she feels both stimulated and challenged enough by the classes that she is taking. Perhaps, she has found a good sense of balance in her life and is taking exactly the right courses.
On the other hand, your daughter may lack self-esteem and consequently the desire to challenge herself. If this is the case then my suggestion here is that you have the school guidance counselor talk to your daughter about her high school classes. Perhaps that will help encourage your daughter to try some harder classes.
You may accomplish two goals here: having your daughter challenge herself and not being labeled a nag. Keep in mind that the most important outcome in this situation is that the quality of the relationship between you and your daughter remains positive and that is far more important than nagging her about taking harder classes in high school.
I hope that the guidance counselor can help here and act as both an advisor and a buffer in this situation. Good Luck.
Barbara Greenberg, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist with a practice in southern Connecticut. She is the co-creator of TalkingTeenage.com and the author of Teenage as a Second Language. Learn more at DrBarbaraGreenberg.com.