Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Thirteen-Year-Old Lacks Motivation

Middle School Expert Advice from Connie Collins

Q: My 13-year-old daughter has always been somewhat of an unmotivated student. It isn't that she's not capable -- it was a lack of effort that kept her grades in the C range. She is now in the eighth grade and my concern is not her laziness, but that she has not learned the skills she needs to take her through the rest of her school career. I've talked to her teachers about getting her extra help, but nothing has happened. She attends a school in a large city school district and I think because she isn't a behavioral problem, the teachers are letting her slide by. What are some steps that I could take to help my daughter learn what she needs to be a success in life and school?

A: All children are motivated. The real task is to find out what motivates them. I encourage you to make a "date" with your daughter to do something you both enjoy and have that include lunch. At lunch, share with her some of your concerns and ask her what she wants to do with her life (career, work). Don't accept "go to college." In your discussion, listen to what she really wants; ask how she sees herself getting there. Will it take graduation from high school, technical training, college, or something else? The key here is accepting what she really wants to do with her life.

Once you both know the answers you can move in many possible directions. She may need to enroll in classes that are more in line with what she wants to do. Perhaps she could write and/or visit a college, tech school, or job site that offers training/careers in her interest areas. Even going to the local high school and talking with the career/guidance counselor may help.

I would also encourage her to get involved in her own school's activities -- clubs, sports, teacher's aide, etc. Perhaps the school counselor can help her. In large schools, students sometimes just don't feel connected and this makes them seem unmotivated.

Continue to talk with your daughter and listen. The issues I've raised may not have anything to do with her lack of motivation. But if you are listening, you will hear what the problem is and you can solve it together.

More on: Expert Advice

Connie Collins, professional school counselor, worked for 35 years in public education as a teacher and counselor at the middle school and secondary levels. Collins worked daily with the parents of the students in her various schools, and has facilitated several parenting groups.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


10 Best Creative Apps for Kids
Looking for apps that foster creativity? Check out these top-rated art and music apps for kids.

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

A New Intergalactic Reading Adventure!
Get your reluctant reader hooked on an irresistible new story, Galactic Hot Dogs! Join the Book 1 reading marathon, and get behind-the-scenes tidbits on the official Galactic Hot Dogs blog. Also, print this cool Galactic Hot Dogs reading log to keep your bookworm excited about reading!

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books!
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our new Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme, and create reading lists for kids!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks