How To Motivate your Delinquent Teen to Action


  1. Push Start #1 - Everyone needs or deserves a push start. You got it when you entered college or university and if you never got it, then blaze a new trail and give your kid the push start he needs in life. There are a number of ways to do this and you can use all or just one of the ideas listed below.
    • Pay them to take an evening class and pass with credit or distinction or to enroll in college or university.
    • Pay them to learn a new language or a musical instrument.
    • Pay them to get As or Bs for a month, and when they get it, increase the reward until getting As and Bs becomes a habit.
    • Pay them to study, then quiz them about what they’ve studied so you know that they didn’t cheat.
    • Pay for them to read at least 2 books per week and ask them to explain what they’ve read so you know they didn’t cheat.
    • Pay them to participate in an extracurricular activity or to volunteer in a community organization – this usually gives them purpose in life and often straightens them out.
  2. Push Start # 2 - Negotiate with them to have an extra hour out at weekends if it is safe to do so (in exchange for whatever you want them to accomplish).
    • Negotiate privileges with them, such as having a television in their room, having friends over or visiting a friend’s home, or having a party at their house in exchange for accomplishing a task that you set.
    • Promise and fulfill the promise of a family vacation if they accomplish a task that you set for them.
    • Give them the birthday party they’ve always wanted or the gift they’ve always wanted in exchange for accomplishing a task or goal.
    • Give them their own credit card or allow them to use yours or offer other incentives if they can demonstrate certain levels of responsibility.
  3. Meeting them halfway - Nothing can demonstrate more to your teen that you are a fair person and that you are interested in seeing things from their point of view than to meet them halfway on an issue.
    • Negotiate with your teen to change something about yourself that they don’t like or change the way you do certain things in exchange for them to change something about themselves that you believe is negative or is of little value to their growth and development.
    • Agree to go back to college if they will go and enroll in college.
    • If they agree to save a certain amount of their allowance for a specific period of time, promise and fulfill the promise to give them the exact amount they’ve saved or double or triple it according to what you can afford.
    • Promise to and fulfill that promise to help them with their work if they will become more disciplined. Show them that you care and are willing to meet them halfway if they will put out some effort. If they are willing to take the initiative, praise them for it. However, if they will not do that, then since you are the one trying to inspire them to action, then you should take the initiative and let them know that you are prepared to give and take and work with them for their benefit. They will often appreciate this and will be willing to work with you.
    • Preparing to meet halfway is the heart of democracy and they will be learning this method of compromise, which is necessary for all to function cohesively in society. You will thus be teaching them to be responsible, participating members of society. Meeting halfway helps both parties and fosters good relations and practices. Both parties will feel like they are a part of a process that will lead to greater harmony, achievement and success.

Briony Irving


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'Paying' a teen to do something is introducing a damaging mindset that can cause extreme problems later in life. As a society, we are already too caught up in expecting others to pay for our mistakes and blaming everyone except ourselves for things that go wrong.

By Kathy Steinemann

Creative ideas, however, do not like the concept of "paying" them to do what they should do anyway.

By Riley Klein

Well, I guess to do it the other way around is to praise and reward him for his little achievements in life. Let him understand that you care for him, but he has to care for himself and take responsibility for his life and actions, too. After all, it is his own life--make him feel that he will be more successful in his life if he does so.

By Waheedullah Aleko

I don't think that bribery is the way to go. How about instilling responsibility and family identity?

By Amanda Larson