I need advice to motivate my lazy 13 year old son.

Lynn - posted on 10/22/2012 ( 4 moms have responded )




I need advice for my 13 year old son. He will not do anything requiring more effort than the bare minimum. He will not do his homework and will lie to us about not having any. When we talk to the teachers and get his assignments for him we have to sit him down at the table and not let him leave until it is done. He can do it and gets good grades on the stuff he turns in but it is a battle every day. If it is a weekend assignment he will literally sit there the entire weekend and stare at a blank piece of paper with us telling him every so often to start working on it. He has even gone so far as to make up ‘easier’ assignments which he will do in front of us but then is still failing because he can’t turn in work that was not assigned. This goes for everything. If he can get away with not taking a shower, brushing his teeth, anything requiring effort he will. We still have to remind him to put on socks in the morning, tie his shoes. I am feeling like he is still a toddler requiring constant vigilant attention to every aspect of his life. He is not mentally deficient or possessing any kind of learning disability unless perpetual laziness is one. How can I motivate him to start taking care of himself?


Ariana - posted on 10/22/2012




I think first off with teens an important part of motivating them is to be involved with them. So try every day to go to your teen and ask, what's up? Nothing else, see how much info you get out of them. Also talk less, don't go on about your day or badger your teen about what's going on. You can say, what's up? Or how's it going? and see what happens. Try to spend twenty minutes a day with them doing something. Also try to spend time with them other times, even if it's once a week doing something together. Having a connection can be a big part of seeing whats going on with your teen and they're more likely to want to do what you ask.

For schoolwork I would start giving consequences for lower grades coming in. So ask him if he wants help with his schoolwork, or how you can solve this issue. Be upfront with him and say, you haven't been doing your schoolwork and going out of your way to not do it at every turn. What's going on? Listen to what he has to say. Afterwards give empathy for whatevers going on (it's hard, he doesn't like doing it) ask him how you can go about solving this problem. See what solutions he comes up with. Does he need a tutor? Would having a special time/spot help do it? The point is to get him involved in the solution.

On that note I would be upfront and tell him you expect ___ these grade (B's?70s?). If he gets grades lower than this his privilages will be taken. So if he's getting low grades he's obviously spending to much time with friends, on video games and needs all of these things to be reduced until his grades pick up. School is his job, and if things are distracting him from his job then you need to get rid of these distractions. I would be upfront with him about this and tell him you will work with him to do his homework if he wants, but you are not going to be a slavedriver, it's up to him if he wants to keep his privilages. He should have a plan on what to do though.

Don't remind him to put his socks on or tie his shoes, or anything to do with regular clothes.

For showering or teeth brushing I would be frank and tell him people can smell him and no girl wants to be near (or kiss) someone who's breath stinks and who they can smell before they can see.

I also wouldn't allow him to go out in that manner. If he wants to see his friends or go out somewhere tell him he needs to be hygenic before that happens. Don't bother him at other times, just when he's saying he's going ot his friends, just be like oh no, you don't go out smelling/with breath like that. Unless you want to be known as the 'smelly kid'.

Try to reduce you being the enforcer of everything. He's 13, it's not your job to baby him all the time. Give positive reinforcement for when he IS doing things right (without being condescending). So if he gets really good grades make a big deal, go out for dinner or something. Do something cool with him.

Like I said, try to connect with him, don't battle unless you have to, and put up natural consequences and follow through with them. Also don'ot allow arguments. If he's trying to go out, and you say oh no you smell, your breath stinks, don't let him go because he really really wants to or has to go right now. Tell him he'll have to think about that the next time he wants to go out. Or if he's grades are down, and he wants to go out on the weekend, tell him not until your teacher sees a great improvement in your grades.

Also get with the teacher with this if you have to.

Good luck!


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Ariana - posted on 10/23/2012




Maybe he needs to go see a councellor? He seems very unmotivated.

I might also try to sign him up to Martial Arts or something, you could even do it with him if you wanted to find something to do with him. That type of thing promotes self-esteem and self-discipline. Get him to go even if he hasn't done everything else.

I still think maybe you should try to sit down with him and ask him about these things (at different times not all at once). He knows there are issues but still ask him. Don't say 'why are your grades so awful' but say, we've really been struggling with your work and grades what's going on? Maybe he's finding the work harder then you think, maybe he's just lazy, who knows? Let him tell you why. Try to actually listen to what he says and try to understand from his side (even if it's a lame response). Then ask him what he thinks should be done about it. Maybe there is something he can come up with that you can't, then he'll have a part of the solution. If he can't come up with something say you'll talk about it later and ask him again the next day. Do this with the hygeine thing as well, maybe he'll come up with a solution that is workable. It might not work but nothing else has worked so far right?

It sounds like you've got your work cut out for you. I can only hope for your sake this is a phase. I know when my brother hit 14 you could barely even get him OUT of the shower in the morning (once he discovered girls ha).

I would try to enroll him in martial arts, get him a councellor, and ask him if he knows a solution to the problems you're dealing with. Good luck!

[deleted account]

I appreciate the advice and admit I have tried most of it. We are in the letting go stage where he needs to start doing things for himself. I used to sit with him while he did the work and help him through any problems, then check it all and go through anything he got wrong or misunderstood, then watch him correct it, then check the corrections, to make sure he acutually corrected it. Otherwise he would make up gibberish to get through it faster. That was ok when he was little, now it just seems like I am doing all of it for him.

Now he is suposed to ask questions when he doesnt understand and I check when he is done to make sure he did it and not just made up stuff and we are back to him trying to pass off gibberish. He wont ask questions becuase that takes more effort and he doesnt care if he does well or not. Praise and rewards for good grades or punishment for bad only last as long as we are actively discussing them.

If the assignments are not on his school blog and we haven't gotten them directly from his teachers he will lie and say he has no homework. He is failing math and english and has C's in the rest. It is much more difficult now that he has multiple teachers to correspond with.

He knows there are consequences. Bad grades means no games, going out, ect. Good grades and finishing properly in a timely manner means he can play. Last year it was so bad we removed everything from his room except his bed, clothes, and books and he had to earn all his privliges back, even his bedroom door after he lost all these things one by one. We ended up changing schools because there was no way he could make up what he missed and the teachers would not update us on his progress.

I went the opposite direction with some of the other stuff. If he would not shower I would still let him go out hoping his friends would tease him about smelling bad and he would see the natural consequences of bad hygiene or having his clothes inside out. He did get teased and he is upset when that happens but not enough to start taking care of himself. He still wont shower without a direct order.

He has no intrests other than xbox live no matter how many things I show him or try to get him involved with. Since he rarely gets xbox privleges because of his behavior he is resigned to just sit and stare at the wall.

How can I show him that his life could be so much better if he cared about who he is and what he does?

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