Take away television privileges if your teen fails to complete her work.

How to Motivate Lazy Teens

by Carolyn Robbins

Sometimes you might wonder if your teen's legs are stuck to the couch. Or, perhaps no matter how often you nag or how you cajole her, you can't get your teen out of bed before noon on weekends. Motivating teens to overcome intellectual and emotional inertia is one of the most challenging tasks of parenting. It involves engaging your teen in conversation, setting a good example and practicing discipline if you were lax with rules in the past. Although it might take time and effort, it's essential that your teen learn the value of hard work early to succeed later in life.

Find a hobby or activity that does motivate your child. Most teenagers aren't lazy in all areas of life. Your teen may be unwilling to help with chores or do his homework, but will throw his heart and soul into football practice. Ask your teen why he is willing to put so much effort into a sport.

Help your teen extend his passion to other areas of life. For instance, if your child loves dance because it's fun, challenging and offers her the chance to shine, explain how she could find the same satisfaction at school. Your teen might not enjoy the drudgery of homework, but she will feel proud when she brings home a good grade.

Discuss the future. Ask your child what he would like to do after high school. If he wants to go to college and play football, he'll have to have the grades to qualify. Explain that there are a lot of things he'll have to do to reach his goals. Teens often have a very narrow vision and need help expanding their long term sight.

Wait for a calm moment to discuss household chores and responsibilities. Kids may agree to more duties if you assign them when everyone is happy, according to psychologist Sylvia Rimm in an October 2006 ABC 20/20. Emphasize that working hard and accomplishing goals is a natural mood booster. Keep in mind that your teen will also feel better about himself if he feels like a needed member of the family.

Establish rules and enforce consequences. If you tolerate your teen's lazy behavior or issue a series of empty threats, he'll continue to be apathetic. Instead, make your expectations for school and household chores clear. If he fails to complete his assigned tasks, calmly inform him of the consequences. Consider giving him extra chores or take away special privileges if he doesn't cooperate, suggests MayoClinc.com.

Set a good example. You can't expect your teen to show enthusiasm for mowing the lawn if you're reclining on the porch with a glass of lemonade. Do chores together and show your teen that hard work can be gratifying.


  • Don't be sarcastic or derogatory in confrontations with your teen. Show your child love and respect and offer praise when he demonstrates determination and discipline.

About the Author

Carolyn Robbins began writing in 2006. Her work appears on various websites and covers various topics including neuroscience, physiology, nutrition and fitness. Robbins graduated with a bachelor of science degree in biology and theology from Saint Vincent College.

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