As a parent, you want to do everything you can to support your teen’s academic success. However, it’s important to also encourage their independence and self-reliance, as these are crucial skills they will need in their workplace or for further studies. Here are some strategies you can use to support your teen’s academic independence:

1. Encourage autonomy

Research has shown that autonomy – or the ability to make one’s own choices and decisions – is an important factor in academic motivation and success (Ryan & Deci, 2017). Encourage your teen to take ownership of their academic journey by involving them in decision-making and problem-solving. For example, you might ask them to set their own goals for the school year or help them brainstorm ways to manage their workload.

2. Foster intrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation – or the drive to engage in an activity because it is inherently interesting or satisfying – is also linked to academic success (Deci, Koestner, & Ryan, 2001). Encourage your teen to pursue subjects and activities that they are genuinely interested in, rather than simply trying to please others or meet external expectations. You can also help them find ways to connect their academic work to their own values and interests.

3. Emphasise growth over fixed ability

A growth mindset – or the belief that intelligence and abilities can be developed through hard work and dedication – can be a powerful motivator for academic success (Dweck, 2008). Encourage your teen to see challenges and setbacks as opportunities for learning and growth, rather than as indications of their abilities. You can also help them set goals that focus on improving their skills and knowledge, rather than simply achieving a certain mark or test result.

4. Encourage self-regulation

Self-regulation – or the ability to manage one’s own thoughts, emotions, and behaviours – is another important factor in academic success (Zimmerman & Schunk, 2011). Encourage your teen to develop strategies for managing their time, staying organised, and avoiding distractions. You can also help them identify and regulate their own emotions, such as by practising mindfulness or deep breathing.

5. Support social connections

Finally, research has shown that social connections and support are important for academic success (Pekrun, Elliot, & Maier, 2009). Encourage your teen to connect with peers who share their interests and values, and help them develop positive relationships with teachers and other authority figures. You can also provide emotional support and encouragement as they navigate the ups and downs of academic life.

By adopting these psychological principles and strategies, you can help support your teen’s academic independence and success.


  1. Deci, E. L., Koestner, R., & Ryan, R. M. (2001). Extrinsic rewards and intrinsic motivation in education: Reconsidered once again. Review of educational research, 71(1), 1-27.
  2. Dweck, C. S. (2008). Mindset: The new psychology of success. Random House Digital, Inc.
  3. Pekrun, R., Elliot, A. J., & Maier, M. A. (2009). Achievement goals and achievement emotions: Testing a model of their joint relations with academic performance. Journal of educational psychology, 101(1), 115-135.
  4. Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2017). Self-determination theory: Basic psychological needs in motivation, development, and wellness. Guilford Publications.
  5. Zimmerman, B. J., & Schunk, D. H. (2011). Handbook of self-regulation of learning and performance. Routledge.

If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Abigail Church is a Humanistic Integrative Counsellor who works with adults and children through counselling with Willingness. She can be contacted on or call us on 79291817.