6 check points before you term your teen lazy!

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These days, almost every parent of a teenager who comes to me complains that their ward is quite intelligent but lazy. LAZY BEYOND BELIEF!! There are endless tales of how they wake up 15 minutes before school bus arrives, how they start studying only the day before the exams, how their rooms are messy and so on and on.

You might have one too. And you might want to check these points before determining whether your son is really lazy or you are the culprit.

  1. Check for lack of sleep:

A teenager needs a minimum of 9 hours of sleep. The brain undergoes an important development during this phase, called pruning. Pruning is quite literally cutting away of all the neural networks that it used as a child, but no longer uses as a teen. This is an extremely important function in the developmental phase. The reason is, to explain in simple terms,  the size of the skull is quite fixed and the brain has to fit into this space only. Hence it has to figure out ways of fitting in all the new functions and information it is learning on a daily basis in this space only. It has no choice but to do efficient management of space. So it starts pruning away those info which it no longer uses. Use it or lose it is the mantra here. To do this task effectively, the brain needs prodigious amounts of sleep.

Even an hour less sleep than this in teenagers has been found to develop complications like ‘lack of interest, lethargy, mood swings, dullness etc. So instead of complaining about the symptom of laziness, you will be better off dealing with the root cause. Provide your teen with more sleep before you accuse him or her with laziness.

  1. Check if you are mistaking morning grogginess for laziness:

The sleep inducing hormone Melatonin works differently in a teen body. It quits the adult body as soon as you wake up. While in a teen’s case it stays in the body for a good while after waking up. So if they are sitting in the sofa and snoozing while they should be getting ready for the school bus, it’s more a biological problem than psychological laziness. Again, look at ways to bring in sleep discipline in your child than obsessing with laziness.  

  1. Check for your parenting behaviors:

Kids don’t become alright by pointing out constantly what is wrong with them. In fact, identifying problem areas on a constant basis only strengthens problem areas. So your teen’s laziness could very well have been meticulously chiseled by your own criticism over many years. It is not going to go away in a single day. Learn healthy parenting techniques from good mentors to help rectify the damage.

  1.  Check for your kid’s identity:

Most parents, with all good intentions give over effusive compliments on just how ‘smart’ s/he is for having done XYZ task. When a kid is praised for intelligence on a repeated basis, s/he develop an identity with their intelligence, which in turn triggers performance anxiety. “What if I fail and everyone comes to know that I am not that smart” is the logic that works inside that head. Your kid would much rather not perform than to have their image of intelligence shattered. So laziness might be a good blanket that they are hiding under. A good way to bring them out of this is to enroll them in workshops like FLYING ELEPHANTS which  bring in a growth mindset as against a performance mindset.

  1. Check for invasive toxic ideas from useless movies:

A teen mind is highly impressionable. Of late most vernacular movies have been defining a ‘HERO’ as a good for nothing lazy  bum who acts like a buffoon hating meaningful work, but he still  gets the best girl in town.  Now, an idea like this can infect a teen very badly and the resulting behavior is an emulation of their favorite hero. If your teen has any such hero in his favorite list, laziness is understandable. Restrict exposure to such movies.

  1. Check the diet:

Some teens consume over abundance of carbohydrates without the balance of proteins. High carb diet promotes physical energy. But to do intricate mental task like application is academics, a protein/vitamin based diet with the right balance of carbs is necessary. Wrong food could well be the reason behind your teen’s mental lethargy.

Beyond all this, though we expect our teens to be self responsible, the truth is that their brains are not yet mature and they haven’t developed the organizational abilities of an adult yet. So don’t expect them to behave like adults just because they look like adults. Rather provide the structure that will help them stay active and organised.

Don’t condemn your teen if she or he doesn’t exhibit the desired behavior. Stay positive and stay involved and guide them towards achievement by providing the nurture that they so badly need.

Branding anyone as lazy and incompetent has never helped anyone achieve anything in this world.

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