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How to Encourage a Lazy Teen

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Lazy teens: put on this earth to swing on every last nerve of their parents, right? But why are some teens so absolutely bone-idle? Is it part of their genetic make-up—a rite of passage for all adolescents? Or is there perhaps an underlying cause that could be rectified with a little help? Here we explore why your teen might be lazy, and what you can do to change it.

Provide Adequate Motivation

Often parents bemoan that their teens never lift a finger to do anything. If you are one of them, it might be an idea to take a closer look at how you’ve treated your kids, and the chances are that you may have let them get away with things when younger. If you nagged them without success and gave up, or simply preferred doing things your own way, then you have not provided your teens with motivation to do anything. This is sometimes referred to as “learned helplessness,” whereby taking over and doing something your child could easily manage themselves. In other words, you are enabling them to be lazy. And let’s face it: if someone was willing to do everything for you (meaning you didn’t have to put any effort in yourself) why would you want it to change? This is a trap that many parents fall into, but if it goes unnoticed and uncorrected, it can spread into other areas of their life, such as school, and have a serious detrimental impact on your teen’s future.

Nagging: Don’t Do It

Nagging doesn’t work. Never has, and never will. Yet it might be a pattern you find yourself slipping into almost subconsciously. All nagging does is whips you into a whirlwind of frustration, and leaves your teen amused by your meltdown (because there is nothing funnier than mom and dad getting all crazy).

Research shows that when a nagging tone is used, all children, regardless of age, tune out. Nagging is also ineffective because it is often vague. Ranting along the lines of, “you never do anything to help me” won’t work because isn’t specific enough, and doesn’t explain what you would like your teen to help you with. Find a calm moment when you are not churned up with annoyance to sit down and explain what your requirements are. Teenagers often need clear direction, and if you are sending signals they can’t decipher, you are unlikely to see any changes.

Consequences Aren’t Just for Toddlers

It’s not just small children who respond well to the idea of consequences following “bad” behavior. Explain simply what you would like them to do, at the same time making sure they understand what the penalty will be if they fail to do it. For example: if you don’t pick up your dirty clothes, you will go without your iPad for a day. This should be stated once, and not repeated constantly (see nagging above!), and it is unlikely to work immediately, as teens will invariably try to push their luck. However, if you follow through with the promised punishment consistently they will soon get the message that you mean business.

Procrastination, or Conscious Laziness

In some cases, procrastination about homework or school assignments might not necessarily come down to laziness; it could be that it is more a case of being overwhelmed and not sure where to start first. If you think this might be the issue with your teen, see if you can lend a hand, or give them a word of advice about how better to prioritize workloads. Look for ways they can organize themselves, such as scheduling work or making a list of what they need to do. Implementing these simple methods, and in turn de-cluttering their minds, is often all it takes to spark them into action.

An Indication of Something Else?

Teens are often sluggish when they are not getting enough sleep, so encourage healthy sleep hygiene, and make sure they get to bed at a decent hour. Laziness can sometimes be a symptom of something else going on with your teen, such as depression, feeling stressed, or struggling at school. If your teen’s laziness seems more excessive than usual, or has come on very suddenly, and is also accompanied by other signs, it might be a good idea to explore the possibility of something more serious than just being lazy. Indicators that something might be awry include a deterioration in school work, withdrawing from friends of social life, or voicing any feelings of worthlessness or negativity. If you spot any of these, and they persist for longer than two weeks, speak to a medical professional right away.

It’s no secret that it can be challenging to get your teens motivated and moving; however, given the right tools, they will soon be ready for anything!

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