Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to understand astrophysics than to understand teenagers. It’s like living with an alien, isn’t it? Your little bundle of joy is now a lump on the couch with barely enough energy to move his fingers enough to play the video game in front of him, right?
Laziness in your teenager can be a symptom of many different things, most of which will be covered in later chapters. Apparent laziness can be a result of depression, drug use, or too many video games. The results of laziness can be frustration for mom and dad and extra pounds and other health issues for your teen.
I’ll probably start sounding like a broken record soon, but I can’t say it often enough. Lazy teenagers don’t respond to preaching and nagging; however, they do respond to being given choices. They also respond to discomfort. If you make it uncomfortable for them to choose not to get chores done or do what you’ve asked them to do, by removing whatever privileges they hold dear, they’ll be a little more motivated to get things done.
In fact, you have a huge opportunity to engage your lazy teenager by encouraging physical activity together. Play basketball, join a softball team together, or coach a sport your teen is interested in. While these ideas may not work with every teen, you never know when an opportunity like that will give you both the time to get to know each other on a different level.
You also must consider placing limits on things like TV time, Internet surfing (non-school or non-research paper related, i.e., social networking sites, chat environments, etc.), and definitely on video games. Your teen should not have a computer or video games in his or her bedroom. Encourage your teen to be involved in a school sport or spend time as a volunteer doing charity work. Not only will your teen benefit from increased self-esteem, but the time spent away from video games, texting, and computers will help him or her learn to relate to people on a more human level.
Bert Yakichuk was a principal at a high school in Canada and has worked with teens for over 35 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in adolescent psychology and master’s degrees in educational administration and biochemistry, giving him a unique outlook on teenagers and the way their brains work. He has spent a great deal of time learning about adolescent brain development.
Yakichuk explains that teenagers use a different part of their brain to make decisions than adults do; it is because of this difference that teens feel they are invincible and indestructible, why they seek the surge of adrenaline in everything they do. Teens need to be entertained. Teens are capable, however, of learning to follow guidelines; you should not just set the guidelines, but you should also be willing to enforce them.
Communicate with your teens that you respect their individuality and that they have the power to choose how they will live their lives. At the same time, make sure they understand that living at home and being part of a family brings with it certain responsibilities, like treating each other with respect and participating in the function of the household (doing chores, helping with dinner, taking care of siblings). When they choose not to be a part of the family, they choose the resulting consequences as well (like a lack of freedom and privileges).
In addition to focusing on behavior, remember to focus on your teen’s health. Yakichuk believes there is a direct connection between teen behavior and teen health. Teens need more sleep and a better diet. Scientific studies have proven that teens that are sleep deprived have difficulties with sexual development, short-term memory, long-term forgetfulness, and inappropriate behavior. By focusing on addressing teen health issues, he believes many behavior issues might also be minimized.
Encourage your teen to choose healthy foods and make sure you provide healthy choices at home. Teach your teen about balance by living a balanced life yourself. If you exercise regularly, eat healthy foods, take breaks to relieve stress, and don’t overwork, your teen will pick up your good habits. If you overeat or turn to drugs or alcohol to relieve stress and live an unbalanced life, no amount of talking will undo the example you are setting.
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