How to Motivate the Unmotivated Teen Actor

Photo Source: Apatow Productions

As parents, we always want to help our children achieve their dreams. As parents of performers, this can become especially difficult when kids hit their teens and become harder to motivate. I get it: motivating your teen or pre-teen actor can be tough!

Adolescents are juggling a lot, particularly in today’s social media-packed world. They are managing new emotions, more demanding school work, extracurricular activities, friends, and their jobs as actors.

So it’s not unusual if they start resisting running lines for an audition, being less excited about an opportunity, and even talking about quitting the business. Try as you might, all too often parents find that their words of encouragement and reason fall on deaf ears.

Not to worry, though; this is extremely common. With some simple tips, there are ways to get their passion back on track and understand exactly why they may seem so resistant!

Enroll in new classes. 
Your child may be feeling discouraged or having trouble focusing on their goal. Enrolling in a new class is a great way to reignite their passion while also helping them hone their skills, even during times when auditions are difficult to come by. Finding a new studio where they can make new friends or take a class out of their comfort zone keep the experience feeling fresh. This is also a way for them to continue growing and doing the thing they have enjoyed: acting! Plus, letting them pick the new class can help them feel more in control of their careers.

Spend time with industry friends outside the waiting room. 
One of the things my children loved most about their busy audition schedules was knowing they would see friends from the business. You and your child will often get to know other parents and kids very well from seeing each other so frequently. Schedule time for meet-ups and playdates with these friends outside of castings and events so your children have a chance to relax and unwind with others in the same situation.

READ: How to Manage Your Child Actor

Think of how important it is for us as adults to have friends in our professional lives who understand the work we do every day. The same is true for your pre-teen or teen who may not know any other actors in their hometown or school. Having connections gives them an outlet to discuss their feelings, successes, and struggles.

Listen, but don’t be pushy.
Don’t forget that your child also has a full-time job as a student. Make sure to check in with them to talk candidly about everything, including academics, and introduce regular dialogues to discuss their goals. One of the most important tools they have for balancing the many demands in their schedules is an empathetic, understanding parent. These “wellness checks” are so important for building a strong foundation!

Keep it fun!
This goes hand-in-hand with creating social bonds for your child with their actor friends. If this isn’t something they love or feel passionate about, don’t push it. On the same note, having a talk about why they started this journey and what they love about it can be an excellent reminder.

Make a game plan as a family and keep the entire team on the same page. You are all working together to help make their dreams reality.

Be sure they know they can come to you no matter what and that you understand how hard they’re working. Making their efforts and accomplishments feel seen in every part of their lives lets your child know that they are always supported.

If they truly feel that they need a break or have too much going on to handle, heed their words. This is a difficult business for even the most seasoned adults and dreams do change over time. Letting your child know that you support their decisions and that they have agency over their careers can break down the barriers keeping them from opening up about why they may be feeling unmotivated.

And if your child really wants to quit, let them. A teen who has genuinely lost interest shouldn’t be forced to continue.

The life of an actor is a tough one and while your child may seem wise beyond their years, they’re still only kids. Take a deep breath, be patient, and trust your child as well as the process.

*This post was originally published on Jan. 30, 2019. It has since been updated.

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Jackie Reid
Jackie Reid owns and operates L’il Angels Unlimited, a talent management company, which specializes in placing young actors in films, theater productions, commercials, print media, on television, and with voiceover work. Reid works extensively with agents in New York and L.A.
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