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Keeping my lazy teen on track

  • My thirteen-year-old daughter has become increasingly lazy in the past couple of years. She lies around the house and will sleep half a day on Saturday. She complains about being tired a lot. Is this typical of early adolescence? How should I deal with it?

Question: My thirteen-year-old daughter has become increasingly lazy in the past couple of years. She lies around the house and will sleep half a day on Saturday. She complains about being tired a lot. Is this typical of early adolescence? How should I deal with it?

Answer: It is not uncommon for boys and girls to experience fatigue during the years of puberty. Their physical resources are being invested in a rapid growth process during that time, leaving less energy for other activities. This period doesn't last very long and is usually followed by the most energetic time of life.

I would suggest, first, that you schedule your daughter for a routine physical examination to rule out the possibility of a more serious explanation for her fatigue. If it does turn out to be a phenomenon of puberty, as I suspect, you should "go with the flow". See that she gets plenty of rest and sleep.

This need is often not met because teenagers feel that they shouldn't have to go to bed as early as they did when they were children. Therefore, they stay up too late and then drag through the next day in a state of exhaustion. Surprisingly, a thirteen- or fourteen-year-old actually needs more rest than when he or she was nine or ten, simply because of the acceleration in growth.

In summary, your daughter is turning overnight from a girl into a woman. Some of the physical characteristics you are observing are part of the transformation. Do everything you can to facilitate it.

Question: My fourteen-year-old boy is flighty, mischievous, irresponsible, and lazy. If I don't watch him very carefully, he'll find ways to get into trouble – not really bad stuff, just stupid kid behavior. But I'm afraid I could lose him right at this time. What can I do to keep him on track?

Answer:It is most important to keep your rambunctious youngster moving. If you let him get bored, he'll find destructive ways to use unstructured and unsupervised time. My advice is to get him involved in good extra-curricular activities or wholesome youth programs.

I know doing that could be disruptive to the rest of your family, but it might help save your volatile kid. This can be done for example by involvement with athletics, music, animals, and part-time jobs. The hope is that one of those options will grab his fancy at some point, and his boundless energy will be channeled into something constructive. Until then, you must keep that energetic kid's scrawny legs churning!

This article was written by Focus on the Family Malaysia and the Questions and Answers are extracted from "Complete Family and Marriage Home Reference Guide" with permission.

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