When your hopes don’t match up with your teen’s motivation.

When parents feel like their goals for their teen don’t match up with their teen’s, it can get tricky.

Another holiday has passed, and parents could be struggling to see how they can help their teen get it together for the second half of the school year. 

We speak with parents who have tried holding their teen’s hand through schoolwork, tried reducing privileges, and neither of those work. They start to feel stuck that their teen hasn’t learned to take responsibility yet. But they know that just makes things worse. 

The truth is, a parent’s motivation for their teen’s success just might not match what their teen values, and so they could be stuck speaking different languages at home. 

 But when they try to relate, they’re met with eye rolls, or a teen shuts down. It’s rough. 

At Thompson Child Therapy, we teach teens how to find the inner drive to make their life worth living so they can stop reacting to their emotions in the moment and feel focused on the future. 

Teens need to learn how to find a balance. What parents might’ve seen as the drive for perfection when their teen was younger might have led to a lack of motivation in the teen years when they didn’t reach their goals immediately.

By focusing on the ability to see small incremental progress through tracking effective behavior AND ineffective behavior, we help teens climb out of the cavern of giving up that can seem like hope is futile. 

But with skills and a focus on the teen’s true dream, one met without comments like “let’s be realistic” or “how will you ever be an artist if you can’t do your homework,” (comments we know come from parents at times of frustration but are rooted in hope and love) we can help teens find the motivation to succeed. Even if they’ve given up and have been feeling sad and worried for quite some time, or they were told by other professionals that they couldn’t reach this goal given how they’re struggling right now.

With a clear sense of where they want to go, we help teens find the inner commitment to make it happen DESPITE setbacks (not without them). By preparing in advance (something we call troubleshooting) we help teens feel solid in their decision to live a life focused on possibilities, not whatever isn’t working or going their way. 

Reach out for support if you feel your teen could benefit from this approach.…/teen-anxiety-and-depres…/


The Best Way to Figure Out What Your Teen is Thinking…Without 20 Questions

“Is that why you’ve been so angry lately?” Often genuine curiosity like this from a parent is met with a scoff or an eye roll from their teen. We’re here to tell you why that is, and how to get around it.

It’s easy to worry about why your teen is acting a certain way, whether that be yelling, isolating in their room, never being home, or talking until wee hours of the night on FaceTime with their boyfriend, (literally doing nothing….it’s just on in the background).

When you notice behavior like this it’s hard to figure out the cause in order to stop it. Especially if your teen won’t open up.

What we know is that validating your teen in the moment is the best and most effective way to learn more about what your teen is thinking.

When you inquire with your teen about why they’re feeling a certain way, they may or may not tell you…

…either because they don’t know, or because the way you ask why is missing the mark for your teen in the moment they’re being emotionally vulnerable with you, so they clam up.

When you help your teen know that their emotions are normal and to be expected (don’t confuse emotions with behavior!) your teen automatically feels understood.

What happens when a teen feels understood? They share more.

If your teen is struggling with anxiety, depression, or is healing from a traumatic experience, it’s crucial that you know how to validate.

Telling your teen “it makes perfect sense that you feel like that… especially given what just happened” helps your teen know you GET IT.

You may not have all the answers, that’s what our support is for, but when you’re ready to listen and hear how your teen feels their feelings deeply, your teen is bound to share more often.


To learn more about what works to support your teen in managing big emotions and to open up, click the link below: