Ask the Experts

Is My Son Lazy?

“My young teen is distracted, even when I sit with him at the kitchen table. Is it laziness or an internal problem? I have a hard time understanding that it is not intentional, so I keep giving him consequences.”

As you have probably discovered, consequences are not changing things for the better. Remember that ADHD is not willful behavior but a neurological disorder. Most likely he wants to please you and get the job done, but his ADHD traits get the best of him and the situation.

It may distract him even more to have you sit there with him. Stay busy in close proximity, folding clothes or paying bills. Check in occasionally to make sure he is on track and doing the work correctly.

Discuss with him what works best. Does he need some background noise, should he be away from the window, is it easier to break the assignment into parts? If he is taking medication, you should also consider if it has worn off or needs adjustment.

Rewards almost always work better than consequences. Once again, include him in the discussion of what motivates him. If he completes his work, maybe he gets extra screen time, and if he turns in all of his work for a week, he gets extra allowance. There will still be good and bad days, but if he feels as if you are on his side, you will both be less stressed.