Five Simple Steps for Helping Your Child Overcome Laziness

 Being lazy is not a mental health disorder, but lazy teens can be the source of family conflicts which lead to a variety of disruptive behaviors in the home.  Dealing with a chronically lazy teen can be an incredibly frustrating challenge for parents and can lead to significant stress and disruption in the family.  Listed below are five simple tips for dealing with laziness in children.

1.       Talk to your teen. Be calm and pleasant, but straight forward and assertive about the concerns.  Don't be surprised if your child responds with anger and defensiveness. Listen to their concerns and facilitate a discussion, but remain firm in your expectations.

2.       Set rules outlining expectations. Establish chores your teen, and periodically change and add to their chores.  Provide rewards and consequences for compliance.  Reward your teen for following through with the rules and implement consequences for non-compliance.  Make sure the rewards and consequences are strong enough to have an impact, whether positive or negative.  The hard part is consistency on your part.  It is vital that parents follow through with the reward or consequence.  Failure to deliver will surely reinforce laziness on the part of the child.

3.       Assess for reasons for the laziness. In some cases, there may be variables in the teen leading to laziness such as depression, sleep problems, entitlement or discouragement.  In other cases, parents’ enabling, rescuing or inconsistency may be a primary variable for why the teen is lazy.   It is important to observe and assess the reasons, which may include parents taking a hard look at themselves and their role in the problem.

4.       Outside activity. Require your child to spend time outside and physically active on a daily basis. Too many children today are spending all of their waking hours indoors staring at a computer or television screen.  Don’t allow your child to “veg” on the couch playing video games after school until bedtime.  Get your child involved in sports, physical fitness, biking, hiking, etc.  Studies show the mental health benefits of exercise and physical activity including an energy boost, and positive feelings.  Get your child outside into the sunshine, the breeze and the fresh air and get his/her blood moving to trigger endorphin release every day.

5.       Tough Love.  Don’t be afraid to exercise your role as the parent and impose hard consequences.  Have the courage to implement impactful consequences such as taking away the cell phone,  eliminating television, internet or gaming privileges.  Be calm and concerned, but be strong and firm in your expectations and stick to your guns.   If you need help to stay firm, consider working with a child therapist who can assist you in working through the issues as a parent that make it hard for you to hold firm on the consequences you impose.