How can I motivate my teenage son

The grades count for graduation or important exams are pending at vocational school - but the next generation has everything else on their minds than learning. Petra Buchwald from the University of Wuppertal's educational institute knows how parents can help young people and how children learn to stay on the ball.

SZ.de: What is the reason when children and young people no longer feel like going to school?

Petra Buchwald: That could be due to puberty, for example. In order to find their identity, adolescents have to become independent of their parents, to distance themselves from the adult world. This is a decisive phase that young people have to deal with so intensively that there is often little room for duties. Teenagers are preoccupied with themselves - and with the opposite sex.

And for them, school is part of the adult world from which they distance themselves?

Exactly, after all, until now they have always been dominated by adults in school, now they want to take the lead themselves. But the old saying is true: You don't learn for school or teacher, but for yourself. But it is a long, arduous path to self-responsibility and motivation.

How can parents help their children with this?

It is really very important that they put themselves in the young people's shoes. After all, we've all had to go through this time before. And despite all the rebellion, the young people are still children who need our love, care and understanding - which does not mean not setting any limits. It is extremely important to keep talking to the young person. And that begs the question of how well parents can communicate at all.

Do they talk past their children?

Yes, there are often misunderstandings. Many know almost nothing about communication. They would have to deal more with how they talk to their children and how this is perceived by the child: How would they feel if someone talked to them like that?

What is the specific effect of the tone of the conversation?

For example, anyone who demands obedience with an if-then threat will trigger even more revolt: "If you are not there on time, then you can write off going out in the next few weeks!" It has a completely different effect, formulated positively: "If you manage to be there on time, I have no problem with the next parties." In terms of content, you say almost the same thing, but with a completely different effect: This sentence motivates instead of frustrating. Unfortunately, parents are not taught how to bring up a good upbringing, so they usually fall back on their own experiences - and these are often also do's and don'ts. It is difficult to distance yourself from your own imprint.

Especially if the child comes home late and you react wrongly out of fear and anger ...

It is positive when parents notice this afterwards and question their own behavior. Then they can admit it, apologize, and explain why they were so upset. Mothers and fathers lose neither their power nor face, but gain in sovereignty. And your child learns how to express feelings.