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Why Are Teenagers Lazy?

By Kathryn Hatter ; Updated September 26, 2017
Laziness can have several underlying reasons.

Teenagers can exhibit a variety of "lazy" behavior that makes parents scratch their heads in frustration. One common behavior that afflicts many adolescents is a lack of motivation. While some parents may brand this as laziness, there can be several reasons why a teenager is not accomplishing goals and tackling life with gusto.

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Learned Helplessness

Dirty dishes clutter a bedroom, dirty laundry piles up in the bathroom and school projects are left undone. While all this smacks of laziness, you may have conditioned your teenager to wait for you to step in to take over and fix situations. If so, you may be dealing with a case of “learned helplessness,” according to Debbie Pincus, a licensed mental health counselor with the Empowering Parents website. Every time you do something for your teen that she could do for herself, you create an unhealthy situation that enables laziness. Step back and insist your child assume responsibility for the activities and situations she can handle.


If your standard operating procedure involves taking care of business weeks prior to due dates, your teen’s procrastination may drive you to distraction. Teenagers often put off assignments and duties until the last minute, according to Fairmont State University's college readiness program. The inactivity associated with procrastination can exhibit itself as laziness. A teenager may put off responsibilities because he feels overwhelmed or disorganized. Offer to help organize his schedule to make life more manageable. Provide encouragement and positive feedback when you notice timely efforts to complete assignments, too.


It’s not unusual for parents and teenagers to have vastly different priorities, says Kimberly Greder, associate professor and family life extension specialist with Iowa State University. Doing the dishes and taking out the trash are probably high on your list of priorities, while hanging out with friends and going to school sporting events are high on your teenager’s list. The difference in priorities may seem like laziness, but a little extra communication will probably resolve any issues. Make specific rules and chores for your teenager and attach specific consequences when your teen does not perform them or does a poor job. Expect that your teenager will need a lot of reminders. Stay involved and monitor your teen’s compliance closely. If she doesn’t complete chores, follow through with consequences to teach responsibility. If she does complete chores, provide lots of positive feedback to encourage similar behavior.


A teenager can appear lazy and sluggish on the outside when very different things are happening on the inside. If you notice symptoms including poor school performance, withdrawal from social contact, sadness, lack of energy and motivation, excessive sleep or suicidal thoughts, your teenager may be experiencing depression, according to Brandie J. Carwile with the Northern Illinois University Department of Psychology. Get your child professional help if you notice these symptoms for more than two weeks.

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About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

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