coaching, goal-setting, homework, teens, Working with teens

Helping your teen study when they are non-compliant: What to look out for.

Goals help keep your teen steady and strong when life is difficult.

planning to succeed




Study goals are most easily achieved by taking small steps most days, not by cramming in lots of information just before exams. At this stage of their life they experience rapid growth spurts and sudden surges of hormones. There are often dramas, if not with your young adult then with their friends. Many young adults feel as though they are on an emotional roller-coaster. Although of course there are times they need to take breaks when there is a major event in their lives or in your family’s life, goals will still help them focus on their study again as soon as possible.

Particularly as young adults they can often doubt their ability to achieve goals they want and might feel easily defeated when there are difficulties. They might also hear from some of their friends that study is not really that important. They might become side-tracked by friends into behaviours not conducive to good study habits such as on-line games and drinking and drugs.  (As a side-issue, Gaming Disorder has become a “Condition for Further Study” in the DSM-5(APA 2013).  It is not yet an “official” disorder, but a condition on which the American Psychiatric Association request additional research). Our role as their support is to help them stay calm, focused, and optimistic, by developing goals with them, and then the steady study routines and consequences useful to achieving those goals.

I aim to never give up reaching for the goals students want so that they can continue reaching for them too. Once a teen makes an agreement with me, I expect them to honour their agreements. When study agreements aren’t kept, I expect them to explain why they didn’t keep them. If it seems useful, we then discuss whether they want to change their goals and/or the agreement. I then expect them to explain what they will do to keep the agreement we have so that they can achieve the goals they want.

Teens might suffer from unhelpful study attitudes, poor study skills, and low self-belief In my experience it can sometimes take weeks before they fully honour our coaching agreement, especially those who have not had to be responsible for their actions yet. I aim to steadfastly remain as firm and consistently helpful and respectful as I can be, so they will take responsibility for their own learning and will reach the goals we decided on together.

Does your teen show non-compliance and how does that appear? Students are usually non-compliant when they have not yet taken responsibility for their learning. Sometimes they might actively fight your decisions by arguing, shouting, and refusing. Although those behaviours might shock and upset you, it can be easier to communicate with young adults who are directly and openly fighting with you.

If your teen does not believe that they have the power to actively and openly fight you, they will often be non-compliant in quieter and more passive ways that are often quite difficult to notice. They might talk with you only when necessary, or do what they want to do when you are not looking, or unconsciously sabotage agreements between you while seeming to agree with you. Unconscious sabotage is the hardest to pinpoint and very common in teens and in children. Such sabotage can include when they forget information, appointments, or agreements, lose equipment and books, seem unable to do a simple task set them that they could do previously, often feel sick or tired when it is time to work, seem unable to concentrate, sulk and not talk with you except when they need to, talk incessantly about unrelated matters or pick fights with you about unrelated issues so that you get sidetracked. If your teen has some sort of related underlying condition, they might also behave in some of those ways, but even then I have found that those behaviours can often be minimised when they take full responsibility for their own learning and you both work to find ways that they can learn more easily.

You might not realise at first that many of these behaviours are non-compliant ones and your young adult might not believe that those behaviours are either. Perhaps for example both of you believe that they are naturally forgetful or not able to concentrate well or are often tired. Notice however that your young adult might not forget information they find important and want to remember, that they can be alert, energised and ready for activities they like, and that they can concentrate for hours to master a skill they enjoy doing. It often just depends on their state of mind when sitting down to study. Are they fully on board with getting on with the required work to reach their goals or are they not? It is usually that simple.

Follow me if you like this post and want to know more about how you can develop strengths in your child with minimum fuss and effort. You won’t be flooded with emails.






goal-setting, homework, Working with teens

Your teen and homework : Part 5 – further tips with respectful negotiation

Stay respectful with your teen throughout the whole homework negotiation process, and never give up!

how to negotiate homework with your teenDon’t hurry homework negotiations. Even when feeling provoked, impatient, annoyed, attacked…stay respectful. If the atmosphere becomes tense between you both, slow down the negotiating process, but without intending it to stop. Believe that there is no hurry – that time is still on your side even in the face of their tight deadlines and impending exams, and you will relax and stay calm and sure of yourself.

When you step back from the negotiating process a little, you are giving your teen  the room to think about why you are wanting them to do more homework on particular subjects.  This gives them time and space to face their own fears and concerns about failing that they have perhaps buried, without the pressure of defending their perceived right to keep everything as it is.  Let them know that you are still negotiating, but that you are letting them have time to think. Your teen will appreciate your calmness and persistence, and at some point walk towards you and begin to negotiate. To stay persistent, remind yourself why homework is important.

When they do walk towards you again…..Keep negotiation times as brief as you can, and be prepared to negotiate over time, which also gives your the time to think things through before you agree to a deal. Take your time, especially when your child is an excellent and ruthless negotiator. I suggest you confer with a more skilled negotiator in between negotiations to make sure you are getting teh clearest and most useful deal you can, and that all loopholes are closed.

What do they really really want? Think carefully about ways more homework can be an inviting prospect for your teen. A good sales person doesn’t pressure, she invites. So make the deal you are offering your teen at least one of the following:- worth their while, interesting, or enjoyable. This approach works particularly brilliantly with stubborn children and teens who want to stay in control, but I tend to use it with all students whatever their age, because it gains their permission to  do homework they mightn’t want to do, but that they know they should be doing in a respectful and gentle way. Here are some more ideas on negotiating with respect.

Offer something they want when they are particularly reluctant to work with you. It is perfectly okay to involve pocket money, extra computer time, use of the car, and anything that your teen particularly wants and you don’t mind giving, as part of the negotiation process.

Start small. Don’t offer too much of anything. Allow some room for your child to negotiate up.
Remember – no coercion. Always get permission. When a student says ‘no’ at any point, my first response is to say ‘okay’ and my next is to ask with great interest, ‘why is that?’ Then I listen very closely to understand. When I have listened well and thoroughly understood any concerns, we can always begin finding possible solutions that work for us both.


I like to share my coaching ideas with as many people as possible so hello fellow Twitter user! Don’t forget to Tweet this post if you like it, or follow me on Twitter if you find me interesting. Keep spreading my ideas and share this post and the website with other like-minded families so they too can develop the skills to create exceptional students in their families.