Here’s Why Your Teen Isn’t Lazy

It is hard to distinguish between “I can’t” and “I won’t” when your teen seems to have no energy to get up, to shower, to pick up their stuff, to do their homework and engage in other life skills that are as easy to us as breathing. To top it off, when there is something fun to do, like go out with a friend, they seem to perk up for a bit and actually manage to have a good time only to return home tired, depressed, and lethargic.

There are warning signs that may help you identify when your teen’s avoidance is a sign of something bigger going on.

Sudden change in behavior: Your once energetic, outgoing teen is suddenly isolating themselves and seems to have no energy. Grades start to fall, absenteeism increases.

Anger: Your teen may be angrier even when you ask a simple question that shouldn’t trigger such a response. Anger is part of depression and often a depressed teen feels alone, misunderstood- especially by a parent and worse, invalidated, because your concern is often expressed by addressing the behavior, the symptom and not the underlying emotion.

Overwhelm: Your teen starts to feel like small things are all too much for them. “I can’t do it.” “I might as well give up.” You notice that your once motivated teen feels easily discouraged.

This avoidance and change in behavior turns to anxiety and self-criticism that only reinforces their negative beliefs about themselves.

The truth is it doesn’t have to be this way. Perfectionism and procrastination are NOT signs of low motivation. It is not that your teen doesn’t care about chores, grades, family time, and more.

Research shows that it is an issue of emotion regulation. Your teen AVOIDS the emotions that come with doing the work.

Now that you know what the problem is let us tell you how we can help:

Teen DBT Group will help you teen learn to:

✅ Recognize procrastination thoughts and stop the cycle before it starts

✅ Manage feelings of overwhelm, depression, and anxiety so they can enjoy life and have fun while still meeting their responsibilities

✅ Have a proven technique for decreasing the “I’m not good enough” thoughts and improving self-worth

Learn more here:

Where is Frodo? Not another blog promising the magic fix once you find Mount Doom

Frodo, Where is Frodo?-Boromir

I let him go-Aragorn

Then you did what I could not. I tried to take the ring from him-Boromir

The ring is beyond our reach now-Aragorn

Fellowship of The Ring, Lord of The Rings- J.R. Tolkien

Even if you are not familiar with the scene (though unfathomable to me), many of you may still be able to relate. An anxious Boromir, wondering where Frodo is after trying to control a situation and take something away from him that he didn’t think he should have. Aragorn was able to accept that it wasn’t his choice to control Frodo’s decision, despite disagreeing and allowed Frodo to leave regardless of the dangers ahead.

Parents and family members of loved ones who have had a recent suicidal crisis or recent addiction crisis often find themselves in the same position; torn between trying to control and trying to accept. I know my family and I did. When faced with watching a loved one’s life hang in the balance, the life-shattering fear that overwhelms you, that incapacitates you, can be unbearable; it is indescribable. What can you possibly do?

When you see a loved one struggling with a chronic and life threatening mental illness, all you want to do is help them. There are many things you can do to help, but in the end you didn’t cause it, you can’t control, and you can’t cure it. I have found that there is nothing more challenging than trying to find that fine line between support and enabling; boundaries and rejection; or accountability and blame.

Each person in your house probably has a different perspective as to the “correct” way to “help” your loved one. This often causes even more tension and blame in the home.  Remember you are all impacted and the path isn’t clear. Don’t underestimate the value of taking care of yourself. Try to devote small amounts of time each week to doing something that rejuvenates you. Try focusing on the present moment and enjoy the good times when they are present.

If you or someone you know have a family member with acute/chronic crises and need support click here to learn more.