How to Punish a Lazy Teen


As their bodies are developing more adult features, teens also seem to develop strong attitudes. Many would rather spend time with friends or on electronic devices such as computers or cell phones than doing chores. As a parent, the job of keeping the house and yard neat isn't just yours -- your teen enjoys the benefit of a clean house, so he should help keep it that way. Setting expectations early, including clear consequences, is key to motivating your teen to get off the couch.

  • Set clear ground rules for your teen. Instead of telling him to clean his room, for example, be specific. Make a checklist of what it means to clean his room. The list might include putting dirty clothes in the laundry room, picking up clutter off the floor, making his bed or vacuuming once a week. Include daily and weekly chores on the list, but keep it fair and reasonable so your teen doesn't feel overwhelmed. Keeping his room clean daily is reasonable, but asking him to clean your bedroom daily isn't.

  • Create a daily schedule that requires your teen to complete his daily chores before he can take advantage of lazy time, including time on the phone or watching television. Hold onto items that distract him from chores, such as the TV remote, his computer power cable or his cell phone, until he finishes his chores.

  • Share specific, escalating consequences with your teen when he doesn't do the assigned chores. Start with a simple consequence, such as no cell phone for one day, if he blows off his chores one day. If he ignores his responsibility the second day, take away his cell phone as well as all other electronic devices for a day. If he continues to be lazy, keep increasing the punishment, taking away privileges that are important to him, such as time with his friends or his car keys.

  • Require your teen to earn back things you've taken away if he continues to be lazy, such as if he cleans his room to satisfy you but does it in a lazy way, throwing everything in the closet so you can't immediately see it. When he does his chores in the appropriate fashion, give him back his cell phone, for example. This teaches him that the punishment lasts until he does what he's supposed to do -- he can't out-wait the punishment and get his privileges back.

  • Be consistent. If your rule is he must make up his bed every day before school, follow through with the predetermined punishment swiftly every time he doesn't make the bed. When he comes home from school to an unmade bed, immediately demand he surrender his cell phone, if the punishment is that he loses his phone privileges for the rest of the night. Insist he make his bed right away, then again in the morning before giving him back his cell phone. The next time he forgets, take his cell phone away immediately again -- if you don't follow through every time, your teen gets mixed messages about what behavior is appropriate. It can be exhausting to monitor his chores so closely, but the instant and consistent punishment helps motivate your teen to get off the couch and help you around the house.


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