teen coaching

Three Ways to Build Drive in Teens and Young Adults


It’s easy to place the dreaded “lazy” label on someone who appears from the outside to lack drive on the inside. But when thinking about the bigger picture, it’s important to recognize that there may be deeper, underlying issues that are prompting the lack of motivation. Thankfully there is good news. Through careful guidance, unbiased listening, and authentic encouragement, it is possible to build drive in someone who is seemingly floating through life without direction.

Teenagers and young adults are often the victims of this negative label. They may be living the life their parents want for them or haven’t yet discovered the one thing they love to do more than anything else. Simply put, they have little reason to get out of bed in the morning. So they don’t. This type of behavior angers those who love them, and ultimately causes rifts, frustration, and perhaps even depression.

So what can you begin to do as parents to help your children move in a positive direction?

1.      Help them identify one or more passions or strengths. Although it is tempting to transfer our own agendas onto our children, it is often a strategy that unfortunately backfires. We are all on our own journeys in life, each with different passions and strengths. Therefore what might work for you, may not work for your child.

As early as possible, begin asking simple questions like, “What do you love to do more than anything else in the world?” If they answer, “Sketching landscapes,” then it’s time to encourage them to sign up for a community art class at a local museum. If they reply, “Helping others,” then begin guiding them to find an interesting community organization and then reach out to begin volunteering. If they respond, “I enjoy solving math problems,” then help them find a way to tutor students whose strengths lie in other areas. If they answer, “I love to write,” it’s time to inspire them to begin journaling, writing stories to publish, or even meeting with a local author. Through a process that focuses on more listening than advising, he or she will eventually identify their passions and unique strengths.

2.      Communicate that it’s okay to make mistakes. It’s really true that we learn much more from our failures than our successes. But too often our good intentions as parents cause us to focus on protecting our children from failure rather than teaching them how to deal with failure. When your child makes a mistake that does not cause irreparable harm to others or endanger himself or herself, push aside your own worries about how others will view you as a parent and become unattached to the outcome. Then begin sharing stories of the mistakes you have made in your own life, what you learned, and how you recovered to become a better person. Through an open and honest dialogue, you are gently guiding your child to understand that mistakes are part of life and that you do not, under any circumstances, expect perfection.

3.      Assist them in creating a plan. An easy way to help teens and young adults begin visualizing a plan for their lives is to encourage them to create a vision board. After gathering several magazines, encourage them to cut out pictures that represent their dreams and place them on the vision board. While thinking about what they want more than anything in the world and then watching it all unfold on poster board that hangs in a prominent area where they see it every day, your child will begin to believe that they can attain their goals with hard work, perseverance, and support from you.

By letting go of our own agendas and focusing on passions, strengths, positive communication, and the visualization of a plan, it is possible for our children to emerge from the dreaded “lazy” label and transform into self-motivated leaders who know that being perfect or living the dreams of others is not the key to attaining a happy life.

Vicky DeCoster is a Certified Life Coach who specializes in helping her clients (that include teens and young adults) move past obstacles, create a plan for happiness, and cross the bridge of transition to find a new and fulfilling direction in life. To read more about her and her practice, visit her at crossthebridgecoaching.com.