Expert Advice

How to motivate a lazy teenager in 6 steps

Up and at 'em! Expert advice to turn your
teen into a go-getter.

By Fiona Wright
Avoids chores, puts off homework and refuses to get out of bed in the mornings... sound familiar? Chances are you've got yourself a lazy teenager.
Here's how to give your teen the motivational boost they need without nagging them.
It's about drive
American youth motivational expert and author of The Grown-Up's Guide to Teenage Humans, Josh Shipp says teenage motivation comes down to drive.
"What most kids need is a 'why' because they always want to know, 'Why am I doing this?' And the answer from you can't be, 'Because I told you so.'
"There has to be something that pushes him past the inconveniences, the shortcomings, and the hiccups that will, without question, arise when he undertakes something that's challenging."
Once teens understand how something benefits them, Josh explains they will continue to do it.
"If the reason your child does something is only because it's important to you, that is short term motivation and that will end. The reason also needs to be important to your child. Feeling a sense of accomplishment is worth the effort it takes to experience it."
Teenage eye-roll. Cue: exasperated parents everywhere. (Image: Getty Images)
Set a sleep routine
Teenagers can appear lazy when often they are simply sleep deprived.
According to Better Health Channel, a teenager needs between eight and 10 hours of sleep every night and most only get about 6.5-7.5 hours sleep per night.
Unlike adults, adolescents are biologically prone to sleeping in later and waking up in the mid morning, rather than in the early morning.
So when your teen is forced out of bed at 7 or 8 am to go to school, their natural sleep cycle is thrown off and they will likely appear lazy, disoriented, and unmotivated, all symptoms of lack of sleep.
Make sure your teen goes to bed on time and gets eight hours of sleep a night.
Limit screen time
Research shows it's important to maintain a balance between screen time and physical activity.
It is recommended young people spend no more than two hours a day sitting in front of a small screen and get 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous exercise a day.
The following tips can help reduce screen time:
  • Encourage physical activity
  • Make screen time a reward by ensuring your teen completes their homework or chores first
  • Schedule screen-free time and make family meals an opportunity for everyone to connect
  • Be a good role model by making sure you're not constantly on your smartphone
Are they OK?
Sometimes laziness can be a symptom of other deeper issues, like depression, stress, or simply feeling down.
Check in with your teen's emotional wellbeing and let them know you can talk with them about anything - big or small.
If you are worried about depression or anxiety, consider talking to a medical professional about next steps.
Continues after video.
Teach responsibility
It's important for teens to help out with chores and learn responsibility.
Here's how to set chores and get them done without any nagging:
  • Set a plan with your teen for the chores they would prefer to do.
  • Agree on a reasonable time-frame for completion of chores.
  • Be firm and clear about the consequences for not completing the chores - this can range from no screen time, to less pocket money or not being allowed to go out with their friends.
Show them the love
Your teenager might not act like they need it or want it, but they need to know to know you love them, care for them and respect them.
When your teen knows you are emotionally available to support them, you may just see a welcome change in their behaviour.

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