Written by: Valerie Hazelrig
My bone idle nephew makes Mr Lazy of the Mr Men look positively industrious. Whenever I visit, he can barely lift his head off the couch to grunt hello, let alone leap to his feet and hug me
What happened to the energetic bundle of joy he used to be? He used to have more energy than a springer spaniel, but as soon as he hit 16, he transformed into a surly lump, scarcely bothered to wash himself, let alone wash the dishes, or heaven forbid, wash the car.
Teenage laziness can be a symptom of several different factors, and it’s a serious matter. Our teenagers are eating more, moving less, and gaining weight – perhaps the obese and immobile humans in Wall-E weren’t too far off the mark.
If you’re having to step over a lazy teenager on a daily basis, it’s time to do something about it, and I’ve got to be honest with you, it’s not going to be easy. It may involve confrontation, tears, and tantrums, but you must remain strong in your resolve, or, in a worst case scenario, your pudgy teen may become a diabetic college drop out, unable to get a decent job due to septic ankles.
Set a limit on computers, phones, and television
With so many TV channels, plus Facebook, Twitter, and absorbing computer games, kids today could spend their entire lives online, or immersed in the latest cartoons. Place a time limit on these activities, and encourage your teenager to participate in sports, to play outside, and to indulge in hobbies that don’t involve being glued to the screen.
Change the Wi-Fi password
Here’s an ingenious solution – change the Wi-Fi code every day, and do not give your child the magic word until they have completed a list of chores or activities. You’d be surprised at just how eager they are to vacuum their rooms when deprived of Facebook.
Make them uncomfortable
It’s rare that a lazy teenager will respond to nagging and preaching, but they do respond to being given choices, and being made uncomfortable. Deprive them of pocket money if they don’t get their chores done, ground them if they won’t weed the garden, and take away their laptop if they refuse to tidy that mound of festering clothes off their bedroom floor.
Reward good behaviour accordingly
Of course, it’s not all about hiding their iPhone and sending slothful brats up chimneys – reward your teen for positive things to help reinforce good behaviour. This could be a pocket money bonus, a yummy treat, or a trip to the cinema. Dish out praise and criticism on an even basis – don’t fall into the trap of only criticising when they are being lazy, or when they’ve made a mistake.
Please, please, pleeeease don’t beg
Withdrawing privileges is a way of asserting control, but pleading and begging with them is not a good relationship strategy. Plus, you’ll get sick of the sound of yourself – there’s only so many times you can hear yourself saying ‘put that Nintendo controller away please Nathan,’ in a whiny high voice.
Let them fail
It can be tempting to do a teen’s chores and tasks for them, just to get them out of the way and to avoid the stress and nagging. But by letting your child miss a school trip because they didn’t sort out the permission slip, or miss out on a homework deadline because of procrastination, you can teach them valuable lessons. Failure will inevitably create a sense of discomfort, which should hopefully encourage your child to be more proactive. With help, support, love and guidance, your teenager will eventually start making positive changes, because let’s face it, failure stings.
Spend time with your child
Okay, so your teenager can’t bear to be seen in public with you, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want your attention. So, help them out with homework, or take up the same hobby, and show them you care about what’s going on in their lives. If you encourage them to express their thoughts, they will be less likely to hide things from you in future.
Teenager for hire
Your teenager is a valuable workforce, but you’ve got to harness that power first. So, make them work for their money. Need the lawn mowing and hoeing? Need the garage tidying? Teenagers always want cash, and by making them realise the value of a good day’s work, you will instil in them a strong work ethic and show them the real value of money.
If non of these ploys work, and your child is still unwilling to move, it could be a symptom of illness or depression. Whisk them to the doctor’s for a check up, just to be on the safe side. And if it’s all tickety boo, get to that WiFi box and change the password pronto: you’ll have a gleaning clean home faster than you can say ‘Facebook stole my children.’