Motivation…Where Art Thou?

By Susan V. Schaefer, M.Ed., M.A.T.


Some people change when they see the light, others when they feel the heat.” –Caroline Schoeder 
There is a disease running rampant among our nation’s teenagers.  Nobody knows how it is contracted and recovery is often a long, frustrating, process. Yes, it’s the dreaded Procrastinationitis.  You are probably aware of this affliction and may even have someone who suffers from it living in your home
The world could be their oyster if they would just stop texting and open a textbook! The people who manufacture Ambien are making a fortune from insomnia caused by worrying about our apathetic teenagers.

All kids want to succeed, but many are overwhelmed and don’t have the tools to succeed at school.  So, they shut down, hide behind screens, become irritable, say they don’t care or what they think you want to hear just to get you to stop nagging them.

By and large, this lack of motivation comes from a combo platter of anxiety (yes, even the ones that don’t seem to care), low self-confidence (confidence is a breeding ground for success), immaturity (what were you thinking about when you were a teenager?), and in many cases, weak executive function skills.

Fear of failure also tops the list of why kids procrastinate. I have had several students who would rather not hand in an assignment and get an F rather than hand in something they feel is not perfect. If you feel your child has emotional issues which impact academics, such as anxiety or depression, seek professional help first and worry about academics later.

Some great ways to combat Procrastinationitis are setting realistic goals and, if they will let you, help them learn to break down overwhelming assignments into smaller, workable tasks. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Right.

Try to amp up the positive support and tone down the negative feedback. Encourage self-advocacy. Take away the safety net and allow them to experience the natural consequences so they learn to be self-reliant and independent.

Pulling back and letting your teenager steer the ship is no easy task. Watching them make mistakes is painful and our natural instinct is to catch them before they fall. We also know this is how they grow. I suggest doing what I do when I see my son on Facebook instead of studying for his chemistry test. Take a deep breath, take a step back, and take an Ambien.

— Susan V. Schaefer, M.Ed., M.A.T.


expert biography

Susan Schaefer is the owner of Academic Coaching Associates, LLC, the first company on the East Coast to combine academic and life coaching, creating an extraordinarily effective holistic approach to student achievement. With a proven record of improving academic success for students, both nationally and internationally, Sue is committed to helping students realize their academic potential and achieve their goals.

Sue is also a sought-after speaker on many educational subjects, and has published numerous articles on education and parenting. She wrote a weekly education column for, appeared on Huffington Post Live, and the WXLM radio show to name just a few. Prior to opening Academic Coaching Associates, Sue was a classroom teacher and holds teaching certificates in both Connecticut and Illinois.

2446 Albany Avenue, Suite 301
West Hartford, CT 06117

(860) 297-1591

Susan Schaefer


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