Impactful Parenting Podcast

Lazy Teenager Help: What to do when they don’t care

February 7, 2021

Lazy Teenager Help 

Link to additional video on  HOW TO MOTIVATE A TEENAGER.  Click here!

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Transcript to Lazy Teenager Help:

My teenager lies in bed on the phone.  Motionless and eyes glued to the screen. "Hey, get up. We got to get to our appointment in 15 minutes," I say because I know that if we don't leave soon, we will be late.   Unfortunately, my teen doesn't seem to care about the appointment.  He moves with the speed of a sloth.  I already know we are going to be late.

Teenagers and their lack of caring about things can be one of the most frustrating parts of parenting.  Every day, parents worldwide spend days upon days trying to motivate their teens with no success.

Why is this daily routine of nagging so frustrating?  Because when push comes to shove- parents have NO control at all.   Yep, I said it.  You have no control.    If your teenager doesn't want to listen to you, they won't.  If they don't want to do something, they won't.  Ultimately, parents don't have control if their young adult child doesn't wake up on time, doesn't do the homework, doesn't eat the right food, or doesn't care.

Now, I know many parents are listening to this saying, "Wait a minute!  Yes, I do.  I will take away their phone or make their life miserable until they do listen." To that, I say that your confidence in your control over your child is a little misplaced.  Sure, you can make your child miserable enough to comply with your requests, but in the end-, they are still making a choice to comply, and you don't really have the control you think you do.

Those parents out there who are frustrated with their "lazy" teenager- give yourself some grace.  There are millions of parents out there that feel the same way. You're not alone.

But why do some teens listen and comply and others don't?  Today I all about Lazy Teenager Help!  Let's talk about it!

The secret sauce to getting your teenager to listen is:

  1. Know what you can control
  2. Building trust with your teen
  3. Leveraging your influence.

Let's start with control.  We established that you can't control your teen.  If you try to control your teen, you will inevitably get push-back, rebellion, and your bond with them will be damaged. So, what can you control?  The answer is two critical things.  The first is How you react to your teen's behaviors.  Many parents make the mistake of getting emotional.  They scream at their kid and allow their frustration to get the best of them.  When you react emotionally to bad choices or behaviors, you open up the possibility for your teen to misinterpret you. When their parent is angry and yelling, they may think, "They don't love me." I know it may seem like a crazy conclusion to jump to, but that is how many teens interpret that response.  If your child doesn't feel like you love them, doesn't feel like you accept them, or they don't feel secure- then they will NEVER listen to you.

Most importantly, kids want to know that you will accept them and love them no matter how bad they are, no matter what bad choices they make, and no matter how frustrating they may be. Children want to know that you will love them no matter what.  But many times, our reaction to their undesirable behavior or choices says, I DON'T LOVE YOU or I THINK YOU'RE STUPID.  And although you may not say those words aloud, it is the message received by your child.  That is why it is so crucial that you keep calm and keep emotion out of the discipline you use with your child.  Parents are often so emotional about their child's choices that they want to punish their children in their anger.  These parents want to make the child feel bad for their choices, shame their kids, or threaten.  Consider, if the objective is to get your teen to trust you and leverage your influence with them to listen to your advice, then that behavior is counterproductive. Why would a teenager want to hear or trust someone who is always disappointed, yelling at them, and making them feel bad?   Being over emotional can be detrimental to your goal of getting your child to do what you want.   Instead, discipline should be treated as a natural consequence for their actions in a matter-of-fact way, OR discipline can be a negotiation.   This brings me to the second thing you can control.

The Second thing you can control is what you provide for your child.   Make a list of the things that your child does care about. Wi-Fi, TV, phone service, transportation, money…?   These are the things you can use to start your negotiations with your child.  Negotiations like: if you do your homework before 5 pm, you can pick what we have for dinner. If your homework is not finished by 7 pm, I will turn off the Wi-Fi until it gets finished.  Unfortunately, many parents make the mistake of not following through with the negotiation agreement. They give back the phone too early or don't follow through at all (like not taking the time to actually shut off the Wi-Fi because it is an inconvenience).  Soon, their teenager will catch on to this and consider their parent's bluffers.  You have to be consistent and follow through on your word with your teen.  This is another way you will build trust with your child.  They have to know that your word is gold.

Building trust with your teen takes time. This isn't an overnight process. Remember, to build trust, you have to do 3 things consistently.

  1. Be consistent with your actions.
  2. Don't overreact to their bad choices, and
  3. Build the "I love you no-matter-what" kind of love.

Now, let's talk about how you need to leverage your influence.

Once you can establish a calm reaction to your child's bad choices, start by asking questions. Use the word 'why' a lot.  Why do you want to be late?  Why are you so tired? Keep asking questions.  The objective here is to get THEM to say the consequences of their actions aloud.   You DO NOT WANT TO TELL THEM THE CONSEQUENCES.  This is important.  When we start telling our teens what will happen if they don't study, don't get up on time, or whatever- your teenager doesn't care!  Talking AT them does very little!  In fact, if they agree with you, then it is just another opportunity for you to say "I told you so," and teens don't like that!  Instead, you want the child to communicate the consequences aloud in their own words because then, and only then, will your child internalize what is being said.   Next, follow up with questions like, "Are you ok with those consequences, Where is that going to lead you, How do your actions make you feel about yourself, how does being lazy serve you?"

As you can see, these questions are intentional.  You want your teen to come up with their own conclusions and connect the dots to how their actions affect their lives.  Now, realize that getting your child to connect the dots one time will probably not be effective. You'll have to have these talks with your teen several times before you start seeing them really internalize their choices.

Lastly, ask your child how your can help.   This statement has to come from a place of love and selflessness.  Your teen will sniff out your intentions if you're just trying to help them because of your own frustrations.  Only when your child believes that you are NOT thinking about yourself or your own agenda will they start to listen. They need to feel that you are coming from a place of LET ME HELP YOU. When that trust is built, they are more likely to start opening up, confiding in you, and taking your advice as something that will genuinely help them and not just serve your needs.  Because most teenagers won't do something for you, but they will do something if they see value in it for themselves.  To discover how to create more value for them and motivate a lazy teenager, see this video. I'll leave the link below for more Lazy Teenager Help.

 

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