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Disclaimer, the title is not about me…well, maybe it is, a little…or a lot…but that is not the point. Let me set the stage…

I once worked with a teen who liked to sleep late and spend a great deal of time on various screen devices (sounds like every teen, right?!). This teen’s parents questioned whether the teen was depressed (a valid question, as there was a history of depression) or just “lazy.” Turned out there was a discrepancy between the temperament of the teen and the parents. The teen was doing well academically, had a job, socialized, participated in extracurricular activities, and did not demonstrate symptoms of depression. This teen also enjoyed quiet alone time and sleep, quite different from their parents who were extroverted and “on the go” type of people.

So that brings me to the question…when is “lazy” not really lazy?

Personality Type: Some people are more introverts and contemplative, preferring quiet, alone time. This is not all-or-nothing rather a continuum. Another client, a younger child, was like the teen mentioned above. They enjoyed a few activities or events a week yet their sibling had one or even two activities daily. This child was too young to stay home and going to all the sibling’s events was overwhelming and caused difficulties with emotional regulation. The parents recognized this and were able to “divide and conquer,” with each accompanying a child, so that they could accommodate both children’s needs.

Circadian Rhythm: I have a friend who works at a school and wakes up every morning at 5:30am! to go to the gym…I would rather chew off my left arm…but only my left, I need my right to write, which I am doing right now at 9pm because I would rather work at 9pm than 9am. My nieces are the perfect example of this. My older niece likes to sleep late, always has. My sister-in-law is similar, so this was perfect for her…until my younger niece came along. That little one is a morning bird, up at dawn or before. Of course, given school start times and our typical 9-5 work day, most “night owls” have to adjust yet maybe such traditional ways are not tapping into the peak performance times of certain individuals.

Need For Sleep: I have another friend who was talking about how they “balance” work, their social life, training for a triathlon, all while getting their 6! hours of sleep…when I get less than 8 hours of sleep, I need an IV of caffeine. If you are a parent (or a CPA during tax season or a health insurance rep during open enrollment) you know the trials of sleep deprivation and it is not pretty.

A Good Strategy: I often hear parents lament that their kids refuse to clean their room. When I ask how the parent attempts to manage this, the response is often that the parents repeatedly tell their kids to clean their room and then out of exasperation, and without consequences, clean their kids’ room. Well, my thoughts are…if I had to listen to someone “nag” me to clean my home and in return they cleaned my home..score! That is a tradeoff I could possibly live with. Sometimes being lazy carries covert benefits in that it allows us to get out of unpleasant chores or tasks. Trust me, if your teen is “forced” to wear dirty clothes because their clothes did not make it into the basket to be laundered, I am certain that it will not take too many times before those clothes magically seem to find their way into the basket. I know I only do laundry when I am very close to running out of clean items. And if I could afford it, I would have someone do my laundry for me yet alas that is not in the budget.

Sometimes “lazy” really is lazy or even an indication of depression (if it is negatively impacting a person’s work or school performance or relationships) yet that is a topic for another post, as I have to head to bed or else I won’t get my 8 hours of sleep. Goodnight!