Ask the Experts

Q: Isn’t My Son Just Being Lazy?

Can your son play Fortnite for hours but can’t focus long enough to do a homework assignment? Laziness isn’t necessarily to blame; learn what’s actually going on inside your ADHD son’s brain and how to change your parenting approach accordingly.

Q: “I know my son can do his schoolwork and chores; he just chooses not to do them because he is lazy. I was just like him when I was younger and my father never would have tolerated this behavior from me.”

A: “Try to get the word lazy out of your vocabulary. If your son is refusing to do something, it’s not because he’s trying to upset you. No kid wakes up and says, ‘I think today’s the day I will piss my dad off.’ It’s because he lacks the skills and resiliency to get through non-preferred tasks. ADHD is not an excuse. It is a description of your son’s brain and how it is developmentally behind is certain areas. Please keep in mind this has nothing to do with intelligence.”


Ryan Wexelblatt, LCSW is the facilitator of the ADHD Dude Facebook Group and YouTube channel. Ryan specializes in working with males (ages 5-22) who present with ADHD, anxiety with ADHD, and learning differences; he is the one professional in the United States who specializes in teaching social cognitive skills to boys from a male perspective.

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2 Comments & Reviews

  1. I am an adult who has had ADHD classic symptoms as long as I can remember. I remembering being lectured and yelled at and grounded and being told that I was “not working hard enough” or that I was just “selfish and lazy.” When I was finally diagnosed I was 22 and by then the shame and low self esteem was set in deep. It resulted in major eating disorder and drug rehab by age 25. I remember a boss telling me that sometimes I was so forgetful and was just not together and he thought that was when I was doing drugs. I didn’t want to tell him those were the days I wasn’t. To me, getting angry at your kid for his adhd symptoms is like getting angry at someone who has allergies every time they sneeze. It won’t Motivate thier allergies to be go away. It won’t discourage them from sneezing. It just makes them feel horrible about themselves everytime they sneeze. me is just kinda cruel. My parents still think that my inability to stay organized is a intentional way I use to puss them off. Sad huh?parents

  2. A great video and article.

    “I’m not here, trying to piss you off” is a phrase I’ve used often with bosses and my parents-in-laws. A great de-escalator of conflict, because that’s *exactly* what they’re thinking – that I’m challenging them on purpose.

    Teachers often saw me as working below my potential, i.e. lazy, rather than de-motivated. If learning challenging Math (i.e. self taught, two year ahead topics) or Science I’d spend hours doing it easily as it was fun and I had energy. Doing pages of fractions when I knew how to do it was just an endurance event and I could get sloppy as I had no energy to bother to do it well. If the teacher had added some algebraic fractions in the mix, it might have perked my interest and sharpened my focus with stimulating energy.

    As a child, tidying my room on a Saturday morning was hell. An endurance event. Apart from the sick feeling that I could possibly die if I keep doing it, I’d get distracted as I found a previous favourite toy or book and get absorbed in it. I also couldn’t work out which was the place to start to be optimal, as I usually needed to do something else before doing any step. See priority challenge below.

    As an adult I have the same happen when trying to pull together disorganized tax return material or completing a boring Uni study exercise. Distraction with *much* more important things, and then a feeling that I could just possibly die from boredom.

    I know that’s nonsense, but am highly sensitive to these feelings, like I’m highly compassionate for friends at work who get into trouble with supervisors. My self talk is not effective. A business coach has asked me to remind myself of the future consequence of my current actions – as if I was having a conversation with my future self about procrastination. I can do that, and understand the consequences and risks. I do risk assessment for multi billion dollar systems as part of my job. It just doesn’t connect emotionally to move me. I’m often more motivated by the consequence to other people of my delays.

    My executive challenge is usually more about prioritizing between many things that I can see as all equally important in different ways. If I start something, something else calls to me as not getting done and important. Consequently I have lots of half finished courses, projects, unfulfilled promises etc.

    The time blindness for me is more about being overly optimistic about how much I can fit in (and I then run late), and deadline blindness. The deadline doesn’t move me until I’m right on it. (The last minute is very productive, because it has become scary, and the adrenaline is stimulating and I feel energy to tackle the task. I’m my best self in a crisis or when something goes wrong.

    I can put myself in others’ shoes in many situations, I am very empathetic, so have deep and flexible perspective. I can take over when talking with people and have to remind myself to make sure I’m not rambling from one story to a connected one without taking breath. This is an aspect of the Hyperactivity of Adult ADHD. It’s not because I’m arrogant, I just want to share “interesting” stories to connect. I have lots of them….It’s just that they go on a bit too long if I’m not careful. Like my sentences above.

    Thanks again. I like your approach, but think there are some small finesses that might be helpful about the mechanisms and what is effective in managing the problems. I don’t think my executive function and self control is much better better once I hit 30…. some of the consequences of failure were more dire and stimulating, and at 50 my partner pointed out an ADHD survey and suddenly I had an answer to my “why do I do that” moments.

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