Dr. RJ Jackson, Teen Life Coach, Shares His Secrets on How to Motivate an Unmotivated Teenager

Dr. RJ Jackson, Teen Life Coach, Shares His Secrets on How to Motivate an Unmotivated Teenager

The teen years can certainly be difficult and over 80% of teenagers struggle with confidence and motivation that often results in having few close friends and a lack of drive to achieve their goals. Dr. RJ Jackson (Dr. RJ) is on a mission to not only help teenagers tackle some of their toughest challenges, but also create a bridge that allows parents and teens to communicate effectively.

According to Dr. RJ, the two biggest problems teens face are confidence and motivation. He explains, “Most parents believe that this is caused by social media, but this has actually been a problem for teens long before social media existed. For example, if your child is shy and maybe has a resistance to try new things, it’s most likely a confidence issue. Or if your child procrastinates and you have to force them to do things, it’s most likely an issue with motivation.”

Parents and teachers may think that this is typical or normal behavior for a teen and that willpower is the answer to get their child to do their chores or homework, but as Dr. RJ shared on a recent interview with We Are Austin, willpower doesn’t work. “Willpower doesn’t work because what we’re asking a child to do is to overcome something that is painful. You see, all humans are wired the same – they want to avoid pain and pursue pleasure,” he says. “For example, you have a child who hates school and homework so that’s in the pain category and then you’re expecting this child to do something they don’t like. And when they do the thing they don’t enjoy, it brings more pain. This is why willpower will never work and will never be sustainable.” 

Dr. RJ Jackson says that the number one way he has found to flip the switch for an unmotivated teen is conditioning. He takes the two categories of pain and pleasure and helps the child decide how to sort it effectively, “For example, when we have a child who wants to make friends, but all the things required to make new friends include meeting new people and trying new things that is in their pain category, they naturally won’t do it. Conditioning is when we take those activities that cause pain and show them how to move them into their pleasure category so they’ll naturally re-condition their mind and that’s how we flip the switch.”

As a leading authority in teen development, Dr. RJ Jackson has coached over 10,000 teens in the past decade and is dedicated to helping teenagers maximize their full potential. In his book, Parenting Happy Teens: It’s An Inside Job, he helps parents understand the reasons why teenagers make self-destructive choices, experience so much stress, worry, and unhappiness, and he shares how they can overcome these challenges. He loves connecting with parents and teens on Instagram and directly through his website since he is committed to making a lasting impact on the next generation.