A New Approach for Your Lazy Teen

Apr 16, 2023

So you come in from the grocery store with a car full of bags. Your teenager is sitting at the kitchen table eating a bagel and looking at their phone.  


How would you feel if they jumped up and said “Good morning Mom… let me help you with those.”


That would be awesome … wouldn’t it. 


On the other hand how does it feel when they don’t even notice the 10 bags of groceries and  your efforts to get everything put into its place.   And to make matters worse they say, “did you get some cream cheese?  I didn’t even have any this morning.”


Not so awesome … right.  You are probably feeling a wave of anger and frustration from just hearing this.  


Please know that you're not alone… every parent with a teenager has felt this at some level.


This is just one example of how we can get frustrated with a lazy teenager and I am sure all of  you have some great stories you could tell.   Stories of procrastination, not trying, being irresponsible and just laying around. 


Here is a story from my parenting journey that was an aha moment on this topic.


Starting at a young age our third child, a daughter, enjoyed playing sports.  She loved playing in the backyard or driveway with her brothers and sisters. By the time she was entering her teenage years she had become a pretty good soccer player. In fact, she tried out and made a travel soccer team when she was twelve. This was a whole new level of competition and intensity for her.  I have to admit that as a parent I thought it was pretty cool. Seeing her out there competing fueled my competitive spirit as well. After a handful of games her excitement and interest in playing seemed to be waning.  In typical dad fashion, I tried to motivate her by reminding her how good she was and how much she loved soccer.  


Then it happened.


One beautiful Saturday afternoon about 10 minutes into her game she just stopped running, turned to the coach and raised her hand asking to be taken out of the game.


In that moment I remember feeling a combination of disappointment, embarrassment and confusion.  


It was then that I had the aha moment.   


I realized that I had no control over this situation.  First of all, I was not the coach. Also, I was 100 yards away on the parents' side of the field.  Finally, most  importantly my daughter was exercising her free will. She was deciding for herself what she was going to do at that moment.     


Experience has taught me that trying to control what a teenager does will lead to a power  struggle.  I am going to recommend that you let go of the idea that you can make them try harder, stop procrastinating or get up off the couch when they don’t want to.   


So where does this leave us?


The opportunity for growth lies in inspiring your teenager to WANT to do their best, act responsibly and willingly help others.  This is the world of empowerment and influence.


Think of it this way.   Instead of trying to MAKE your lazy teenager do their homework when they DON’T WANT to…focus on inspiring them to WANT to do their homework.  Then you don’t even have to ask.  


This new goal changes the whole dynamic between you and your teenager … doesn’t it?


Step one for transforming your lazy, unmotivated and irresponsible teenager is to shift your mindset. 


Now I know what you are thinking.   This all sounds good but don’t leave me hanging.  How do I do this?


Over the next several posts I will be exploring the strategies for empowering and influencing your teenager.  This is the stuff that every parent needs to know.


Your homework for now is to raise your own awareness. Take note of when you try to control or manipulate your teenager.  How does it usually workout?  What do you experience? 


More to come.


Your family enrichment coach,


Jim White





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