Parenting Child Psychology and Behaviour

How to motivate an indecisive teen: Parents’ Role

Shikha Batra
11 to 16 years

Created by Shikha Batra
Updated on Apr 01, 2021

 How to motivate an indecisive teen Parents Role
Reviewed by Expert panel


“My 17-year-old son is completely clueless about what he wants to do right after high school.” says his concerned mother, Anupriya.


“My daughter just isn’t out of her party mood, after her exams got over. I have no idea which field she wants to take up as her career as she seems to be so confused whenever we have a discussion on this topic ” says Puneet, a worried father of a 16 years old girl, Sunaina.


The anecdotes mentioned above are of two teenagers who lack any career goals, let alone ambition and are completely lost. Their indecisiveness has put their parents into a state of worry with regards to their career and future plans.


Your teenager may be on a path to finding their purpose in life, or they may be indecisive and feel completely lost. This could be very scary for you as a parent to have a teen who is unsure of what s/he wants to do after finishing school or who has no idea at all about her/his future plans. This indecisive behaviour of teenagers is natural and it can actually be an asset to their maturing brain. While making any decision they have too much to keep into consideration such as their own ideas, beliefs, passions, expectations from family and peers as well as thoughts about family norms.


Reasons for a teenager being indecisive about their career plans might include:

  • The decision of which course to study at a university or a college-level can be the most daunting one for them.

  • The high rate of unemployment in the country of which they can become just another statistic if they do not make the right decision.

  • Many teens are scared of making a decision which they might have to regret later.

  • Their prefrontal cortex which is the centre for rational and critical thinking is still developing, it is a more difficult task than adults for them to make a decision.

  • This could also be because today’s youth is caught in a tug of war between the attraction of pursuing their passion on one side and the societal pressure on the other.


Steps parents can take to help their child in taking decisions independently right from an early stage would include:

  1. A child’s ability to make a decision could be a sign of independence and self-esteem. Parents can encourage both these attributes in their child through acceptance and encouragement throughout their childhood.

  2. Parents may try to avoid being over-controlling.

  3. They can refrain from being over-anxious about their child’s disappointments and challenges.

  4. They can avoid being too hung up on perfectionism.

  5. They can praise the effort and not focus much on winning or losing.

  6. They can step aside and allow their child to make reasonable choices.

  7. They can be firm and set clear limits .

  8. They can avoid being too critical when their teen makes a mistake and use this as a teachable moment to convey a message that mistakes can help them make a better decision next time.


Steps parents can take to help their teen while taking a career-making decision:

  • Try doing active listening and be compassionate about their concerns. This validation would help them sort through indecision piece by piece.

  • Do some brainstorming with them and help them figure out what they are interested in by initiating a dialogue that gets them to thinking about why exactly they like what they like .

  • Help them to draw or write about their options out.

  • In case of multiple choices help your teen in narrowing down options.

  •  Self-reflection is a huge part of any path they may take. Encourage them to ask questions like “Why am I here?”,  “What am I doing with my life?” “ What makes me unique?”, “Doing what makes me happy as well as satisfied?’

  • Allow them to do some introspection about their desires, passions and help them visualize what they perceive themselves doing a few years down the line.

  • Support them by asking meaningful questions about different options available and how they can contribute to society.

  • Give them a reality check by talking about how money making is necessary to live and survive.

  • Share your personal experiences by talking about fears and obstacles you faced as a teen and strategies you used to reach a decision.

  • Help them break down their goals into short  and long-term and how these can be step by step moved in the direction of taking the path of their desired goal as their career.

  • You could even explore the option of taking guidance from a  career counsellor.

  • After your teen has reached a decision, allow them to take the steps required to follow through.


Instead of worrying and being in a state of panic, parents should rather support their teen and help them reach a decision. It is important to remain level-headed while making any career-making decision which you and your teen would not regret later and would save you from facing any financial losses too.


Parents can help spark some thoughts about how their teen may be able to translate their interests into a career. They can suggest how their strengths and values fit in with possible career and life goals. Holding discussions on their interests and professions can broaden their frame of reference of possibilities that they can consider for future studies and finally take it up as their occupation.  Help them visualize how their strengths, values, work and impact on the world intersect as their purpose of life.


This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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