Home page Psychology blog Child and Adolescent Behavior Qualities of a Strong Person (Don’t) do whatever you want: how to help a teenager train the will power

(Don’t) do whatever you want: how to help a teenager train the will power

08.05.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

«It seems, my daughter doesn’t have the will power at all. I’m sure it isn’t the laziness, because she spends her favourite pastimes with pleasure: she can draw for a long time, read books, learn her dancing routine – you can’t easily distract her. But problems appear when it comes to her responsibilities and household chores. I can’t make her get stick to the timetable. During the day-time she just can’t start doing her homework, and, after my multiple reminders, she would eventually start in the late evening, go on till almost 2 a.m., and, obviously, we both suffer in the morning, when it’s time to wake up. It’s clear that she would sleep then in the daytime, engage in her hobbies and postpone important tasks for an uncertain period of time. We are going round in circles. And we can break this habit, just with the little will power: she needs to do her homework right after coming back from school, then she can do whatever she likes and, afterwards, go to bed in time. But it’s just too difficult for her. I’m really worried about her future, the exams are coming, and then the university, where no one can control or talk her into doing the right thing».

— Oksana, mother of 15-years old Sasha 

The problem of teenagers’ will power bothers many parents – in this particular age children become adults and it’s harder to control them. Parents are worrying whether their grown-up children can deal with a plenty of responsibilities and school duties on their own, whether they are able to perform well on the exams and if they are ready to enter the adulthood. 

Even if earlier a child has successfully shown his leadership character traits, teenage years can bring the back up. Mainly, it is connected with the physiological features: the body is developing fast, there is a whole new hormonal recombination and this process takes a lot of energy. There is nothing left for anything else. That is why teenagers are often experiencing apathy, low energy level, and literally can’t make themselves perform any tasks. This is fair both for boys and girls. [1]  

Obviously, all parents worry for their children. They are concerned that abulia will stick to their child, that he or she won’t be able to enter university, will be dependent and helpless, that inability to make decisions will lead them to ending up in a bad company. But you can work with teenagers abulia.  

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In this article you will learn how to develop the will power in a teenager: we’ll tell you, how to breed a teenager, give you few exercises which can be done by a child individually. And we will tell you a secret: how to defeat teenager’s abulia once and for all. 


  1. Тest: does a teenager have well-developed will power?
  2. How to train the will power in a teenager: phycologists advice
  3. Exercises to develop the will power in teens
  4. Problem solution – 7Spsy behavior modification technology

Test: does a teenager have well-developed will power?

In order to understand whether your child has problems with volition, you can set preliminary diagnosis with the help of this small test. It is based on the methodology of a psychologist Nikolay Nikolaevich Obozov. [2] Answer each question with “yes” or “no” and count the amount of positive responses.   

  1. Is your child able to accomplish the work he has started, which he is not interested in, taking into account that time and circumstances allow him to stop and continue later? 
  2. Is your child able to overcome his inner resistance easily, when he needs to do something unpleasant? 
  3. If your child is prescribed with the diet, can he overcome his food-related temptation? 
  4. Is he able to wake up earlier in the morning, as it was planned beforehand in the evening? 
  5. Is he able to overcome his fear of visiting a doctor or any other unpleasant task and not change the plan on a short notice? 
  6. Will your child drink gross medicine which was recommended by a doctor? 
  7. Can he follow the day timetable or the plan?
  8. Is your child able to keep a promise which he made hot-headedly, is he a man of his word? 
  9. Can an interesting TV-program deflect his attention from urgent and important task? 
  10. Can your child stop the quarrel and be the first one to keep silent, even if his opponent keeps on saying insulting words? 

If your answer for most of the questions was negative, probably, your child has ill-developed will power and it’s better to work on it. It’s far more difficult to change usual behavior model in adulthood rather than in childhood, that is why, the earlier you start working on it the better.  

How to train the will power in a teenager: psychologists advice

воспитание воли у подростков

Teenager’s will power training is the task not only for themselves, but also for their parents. Due to their age, teenagers don’t have well-developed volitionary adjustments, it can be difficult for them to resist temptation or made decisions by themselves. That is why it’s crucial to realize that this is just temporary, to accept the situation and help your child to develop the sense of responsibility and train the will power.  

What do psychologists recommend to train the will power?

Set personal example

Teenagers, as well as younger children, still rely on parents example. Although during the adolescence they can rebel against adults lifestyle and do anything not to relate to their parents, later family’s goals will, most likely, move to the forefront and set the lifestyle of our grown-up child. That’s is why the best way to bring up your child is to change your own habits. 

Define your goal

According to the soviet psychologist L.S.Vygotsky, teenagers can be defined “not with the ill-developed will power, but with the ill-developed goal”. [3] If younger children can easily do something not important for them personally, just to make their parents happy, to get recognition or to avoid punishment, teenagers are more like adults in this case. They value personal goal, emotional attachment to it. To achieve the goal which was set by a teenager himself, he can show an amazing will power. The problem is that he can’t always understand the sense of daily routine: for example, why would he study boring Math if he wants to become a swimming master of sports. The main task for parents – help their child to find this sense, connect daily activities with his goal or find new goals together.  

Create the reward system

Unfortunately, not every single task we perform in our lives is for the greater goals. We all have to deal with boring job, which seems useless sometimes – and teens are not the exception. However, it’s easier for adults to find inner motivation for such tasks, while children and teenagers need external one. Let it be not the fear of punishment, but, on the contrary, positive motivation. Talk your child through the reward system. For example, it can be a small raise in his pocket money for doing some “extra” household chores. Or it might be a pleasant present for successfully passing an exam on non-major subject. Adults also get bonuses for their good work – why not evaluate teen’s efforts with the same means? It would help him learn to appreciate his own efforts.  

Let the child do nothing

It is crucial for a teenager to have free time which he can spend as he’d like, in private. Even if he’d just spend it with the computer or laying down on the sofa – nothing bad will happen. That’s the way their brain is rebooting, taking their mind off important tasks and restoring energy for further achievements. What is more, adolescence is the period of active internal work, self-exploration, which also requires time. While child is doing nothing, there is constant processing inside him, which would help to shape his personality, gain self-confidence, answer important questions and make decisions. This is how the willpower is formed in teenagers.    

Exercises to develop the will power in teens

exercises for the development of willpower of adolescents

Typically, if a teenager is brought up in a functional family and doesn’t have any development abnormalities, he is eager to train the will power himself, as it’s the way to prove his “adultness” to his parents. 

In order to help him, you can offer these exercises: [4] 

  1. “I won’t”: you need to choose any bad habit and hold back from doing it for two months – that’s the exact amount of time needed to establish the new mental set. For example, you can try to avoid using junk words, putting one leg on another or surf social networks before going to bed. 
  2. “I will”: in this exercise you need to choose the healthy habit and train it for the same two months. Going for sport trainings twice a week, waking up half an hour earlier or do your morning exercises every day – let teenager choose a goal, which he’d be enthusiastic about. 
  3. Strengthening self-control: teenager should keep an eye on things he usually pays no attention to, on a daily basis. For example, make notes on how much time he spends in the Internet or what he has for breakfast at school. It would not only help to train the will power, but can also raise the level of awareness in his life. 

In order to follow his successful accomplishments, offer teenager to make a special tracker and note in it all tasks performed daily – it can be a great motivation. For a start, choose just one exercise to train the will power and concentrate on doing it. It gives more chances that your teenager would not get off the chosen path.

Problem solution – 7Spsy behavior modification technique

We will teach 10 strong-willed qualities to your child

Make for consultation WATCH VIDEO

However, if you realize that teenager’s abulia has become a part of a lifestyle, and the psychologists recommendations don’t work, you should start working on changing the solid behavior model. 7Spsy behavior modification technique is aimed exactly at this. It is the patented method of behavior psychology, based on the theories of famous psychologists I.P.Pavlov, B.F.Skinner, A.A.Ukhtomsky. The course of behavior modification can help to reveal mental sets which have led to dysfunctions of volition, and change them on to positive ones.  

The work on 7Spsy technique is done remotely and takes 2 to 6 weeks. Teenager works individually at home, any time he finds comfortable. There’s no need to miss lessons and explain teachers about participating in the program. This activity is totally confidential. During the whole course a professional psychologist will support the teenager via on-line chat, cell phone or an e-mail.  

As a result, teenager will learn how to deal with difficult situations, which require using the will power. It will help to prepare him for the adulthood troubles. And you will save plenty of time and nerves, avoiding constant arguments and constant lecturing. 


  1. Alla Mitrofanova, «Perekhodnyj vozrast: spasajsya, kto mozhet!» (https://foma.ru/perexodnyij-vozrast-spasajsya-kto-mozhet.html)
  2. Test: «Samoocenka sily voli» (https://psihologia.biz/psihofiziologiya_801/test-samootsenka-silyi.html)
  3. A. Bolotova, O. Molchanova, «Psihologiya razvitiya i vozrastnaya psihologiya»
  4. Kelly McGonigal, «Sila voli. Kak razvit i ukrepit»