Almost 14 Yr Old Son Does Not Listen and Is Very Lazy at Home

Updated on February 09, 2009
L.R. asks from Riverside, NJ
19 answers

My son will be 14 in April. He is basically a good kid.Very respectful in school and has always done very well in school. This past year when I tell him to do his homework, a simple chore, or just make sure his shoes and clothes are put away he says Ok . when it is not done I tell him again and that I want it started right away.Hsays Ok then I see that he doesnt do anything and after I start sreaming at him he starts doing what I asked and then tells me that all I do is sream and that he was going to do it.Yesterday a friend was driving him to school My husband and I left for work about 5 minutes earlier.I always tell him towait near the door all ready with his keys but this time I didnt say anything ,so I find out this morning that he was watching TV and didnt hear the beeping and so he made the group late.He apologized but the issue is responsibility. In the morning he cant find shoes or even his winter coat.The yelling is making me and my husband very stressed.I thought there might be someone who has raised a teenage boy who can offer advice

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So What Happened?

I want to thank everyone who responded.I asked my husband to read the responses and I even told my son about the responses.So he is understanding that we are all going to change our ways.I have already started to use some of your great advice.Thanks!!!

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Welcome to hormone city !! I have 2 teenage boys along with a 6yr old girl and 1 1/2 hr old boy. He is testing his limits with you now, kinda like the terrible two's, but more in the "I'm an adult and can decide when I want to do , not when mom wants me to do it" I started giving my son the choice, like, you have until such and such a time that I am trusting you will do it. You decide when between now and then. After that, it is , ok, I'm gonna get upset and take something away and not give you the choice of time if you can't be responsible. Somedays it works wonders, others, not soo well. All depends on their moods too.

Good luck !!



answers from Harrisburg on

Although I have not raised a teenage(except maybe helping with my sis), we were all teenagers before. Why are yelling? Stop the yelling! Ask him why he forgot to do such n such, maybe he did truly forget. Write it down..."you may not leave/watch tv/whatever till you do the following. Then he can not say he forgot, cause it was written down. Unplug the TV in the morning before you leave. TV should be on in the morning it is just a distraction that is not needed. Isntead he can do the morning dishes, wipe down the counters, take trash out, read a book.

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answers from Allentown on

At 14 he's going through the frustrating but very necessary process of "separating" from his parents. He's frustrated because he doesn't have any control over his life, you're frustrated because you once had, but now feel less, control over his life.

Do you remember being 14? I do; fortunately, my father had a good sense of humor (he would often tell me, with a smile, "I hope I make it through your adolescence!"). At this age, anything anyone tells you to do, you'll resist just to assert your independence (LOL)!

Whenever my daughter starts a behavior that I think will become a power struggle, I engage her in the solution. When she was texting her friends at 2 in the morning, we discussed use of e-devices (cellphone, Ipod, laptop), and I asked her what would be a reasonable time to "unplug" at night, and she said, "10:30", which I thought was more than reasonable on a weekend (I was going to give her midnight). Then I asked what would be a reaonable consequence (avoiding that awful word, "Punishment") for an infraction, and we agreed to no texting for a day (OMG, as the kids say, an hour would have just about killed her).

When parents tell a kid to do something, it's THEIR rule for THEIR life (as the kid sees it).

So, he needs to be able to engage, with you, in controlling of some aspects of his life. If what he suggests isn't reasonable, then calmly (and a calm conversation will make both of you feel like adults) come to a consensus on an agreement: a schedule, and consequences if it's not followed. Realize that his ideas will be different from your own, and that's OK, he's a different person from you. Also realize that it will take awhile for both of you to adjust to this new reality and that we're all works-in-progress.

My ex used to yell at me if I didn't do housework on his schedule (BTW, I worked full-time, he was an at-home dad), but I did it on my schedule--Mine wasn't his, and that frustrated him. He always gave me the message that I was messy. Well, now that I have my own apartment, I keep it neat and clean--on my schedule.

When my daughter's with me, I never use his phrases like, "Am I the only one who can clean around here?" and "This place is a mess!" Her room isn't as neat as I'd like it, but that's OK, it's somewhere between "everything in it's place" and "bomb blast aftermath". I had to decide just what level of untidiness I could live with, and what was the trade-off for having a good relationship with my daughter, and feeling that I was helping her to find her own personal sense of ownership and tidiness for her room. Best of luck.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Scranton on

First of all you are entering the most delicate time in a boy's (or girl's) life. It is full of so many changes for them. They are dealing with a bunch of emotions (and hormones) Bless their hearts.

I agree with the others - stop yelling -- as a FORMER "yeller" myself (that came from a long line of yellers).... I have grown a long way between evolving as a parent into an Early Childhood Educator. I am a grandmother now and wouldn't dream of yelling at my precious little granddaughter :)
In my business the only yelling that I do is when we are doing an group activity that calls for it... ;)Catching them being "good" & consequences are the most effective ways of guiding behavior. Of course modeling is at the top of the list. There are many good books on this subject but my recent recommendations are

The Everything Guide to Raising Adolescent Boys
By: Rebecca Rutledge, Bruce Rodgers - you can find this and other good books at
Another source of help is Dr. Becky Baily's Loving Guidance website. Here is a link for using Conscious Discipline at home.
God Bless

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Congrats on your upcoming anniversary. 19 years-- wow! Good for you.

You've gotten tons of good advice here, but I'd like to offer a small solution for the morning problem that has really helped me get out the door. I call it my "launch pad" -- in my house it is a shelf, but it could be a basket or whatever near the door-- anyway, the night before (when I still am semi-awake) I assemble whatever I need for the next day there. For your son, that could be shoes, backpack, money, phone, lunch, whatever. That way it is ready to grab on the way out the door. If he could learn this habit at 14, you would be doing him a favor for a lifetime. I don't know much about 14 year old boys (yet, check back in 12 years) but if he could pick out what he wants (or maybe a new backpack, or something "get-out-the-door" related, that might help him get into it.


answers from Pittsburgh on

GREAT book: "How to talk so teens will listen and listen so teens will talk" by Adele Faber. It will stop all of the yelling and your teen will turn around immediately! :)



answers from Allentown on

Have you tried a behavioral chart for him? You could list the chores he needs to complete on it and develop a reward system when he completes a certain number...make the goal more attainable in the beginning and than increasingly diificult. The reward could be an additional amount of money per chore to his allowance, or an activity, or really anything he will respond to positively. As for the issue with making his friends late..the negative responses from his peers will probably have more impact on him than your screaming. Good Luck!!!


answers from Allentown on

Hi L.,

First thing. Stop yelling.

Sit down with your son and discuss what his responsibilities are.

Work with him as he makes up a chart of things he needs to.

Next work with him as he makes up behavior plan when he he doesn't do what he needs to do.

Put the chart and plan in a visible place.

Let him experience the consequences of his forgetfullness.

Good luck, All the best.




answers from Erie on

When my sister's son turned 13, I asked her what it was like. Her response?

Ages 2 and 13 have a whole lot in common.

I recommend that you don't bother to yell. The fact that he made other people late is not your problem. It's his. Don't take responsibility for things that aren't your problems. If he makes the group late often enough, they will simply not pick him up next time. Short and simple.

Tell him the time at which you expect the job to be done by. Give him a list if you need to, and then thank him when he does it. If you have to remind him remind him of what time it is, and that he needs to have the chore done by such and such a time. If you pick a fewer number of issues to argue over, you may find that you have more to celebrate, and your relationship will improve.

For perspective: We help our 15 yr and 13 yr olds find what they don't have handy when they aren't ready early enough. They get up, put contacts in, eat, and dress in 1/2 hour or less. If they are tired, sometimes they need some help finding socks and shoes. I don't think it's a big deal. When we can't find things, they will wander around helping us, too.

Teens are the most sleep deprived segment of our population in the US. Most of them don't function well in the a.m., but our educational system insists on having them start around 7:30 a.m. so there's time after school or outdoor sports. Go figure.

Teens are also processing lots of stuff - stuff they don't generally share. It's nothing for one of them to stare off into space and lose an hour of time, and not even know it passed or what they were thinking about. Allow some room here for him to process and to do what he needs to do. Find commonalities, encourage him rather than get angry. And be aware: he's not 20. He's not going to be responsible right now -- he will be incredibly grown up and responsible at times, but then he will also exhibit very childish behavior at others. It's part of growing up.

He's not going to do life your way. He's going to find his own path. What you need to do is set the boundaries -- if he makes his friends late, then maybe the next time he rides the bus. (yuck) Set the boundaries, and give him room to find his own way as he travels down the roadway.



answers from Philadelphia on

Stop yelling. You've already amped up the volume so much he's tuning you out. You don't have anything higher or bigger to go to. He needs consequences for his inaction. If he's not helping or doing as you ask, he should have a consequence. He's Ok at school because at school there are consequences for his actions - detention, demerit, or whatever. You need to either take something away, not let him see his friends, or not give him allowance - something like that. The penalty has to be clear - ie: "I'll remind you after I've asked you do something once, but after that, it's a dollar off your allowance." It doesn't have to be negative... you can have him work for something he wants... "If you do things I ask without being told twice, I'll give you extra Xbox time." You & your spouse have to be consistant, tho. The key is not getting bent out of shape, just being matter of fact about what happens when he doesn't do as you ask. He'll get the idea if you are consistant and he knows you mean it.



answers from Scranton on

While chore/behavior charts work for some,it had the opposite effect for my daughter when she was a teenager. She took as a "baby" thing when in actuality she wanted to be "grown up". Since your son is 14, he cannot drive yet. Use this to your advantage-don't drive him to where he wants to go unless rules are followed. I would sit him down along with your husband, have a very detailed conversation (do not lecture-it'll be tuned out). Start with all the positive things he does like in school, then say you understand the stage he is going through, he's not a child yet not an adult,so therefore you will allow him to make some decisions ,but there are certain house rules that everyone has to follow. State them and then explain the consequences if he does not follow them. One thing I strongly suggest is to have him set up his clothes, including coat,shoes, bookbag the night before.My children set theirs up in a central location-our computer room. Then in the morning, everything is in one place. You will have to check the setup at first, but once it is routine life will be much easier. I even have my kids set up clean underwear,socks,gloves,hats,etc. Also, he cannot go out or do what he wants until his chores are done. To follow up on all of this, have weekly SHORT family meetings. We sat down with our calendars and let each other know what was coming up in the following week and what needed to get done in that week including housework then divide it up according to appropriateness.Let him have a say in the family activites. (this will give him a sense of being treated as an adult). I always told my daughter as you grow up, you become more responsible and therefore have more responsibilities. That I was helping her become a successful adult. Now that she is 21, graduating college in May and has her own apartment,she does thank us. It's tough to continue this, but sometimes the more power we give our children, the better they become. Good luck!



answers from Sharon on

My son will 14 in April too and i know your fav is when he can't find his shoes in the morning and we are out to get him and hid his shoes.nope don't think so,they are were you left them thrown the last time you wore them.
I think they turn out the yelling.i have learned to whisper to him and that forces him to listen to me,not saying he's going to do what i ask but i know he hears me and yes we have our fair share of yelling here too........
Good luck i'm in the same boat.


answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi L.!! Wow! So I'm not alone!! I have three girls, 16,14, & 11 and I am in the same place with you. I hate to yell, they have places for everything to keep things organized...they each have one chore a week that they are responsible for (I even write the rotation on the calandar so there is no question about them)and they are expected to keep their rooms reasonably clean & their laundry put away. They expect us to shell out money for all their activities, for friends birthday presents, for lunches whenever they have a long practice (band, orchestra, dance whatever). They expect us to pick them (and friends) up, take them where ever when ever without a thought....but ask one of them to take out the trash or the dog?!!! Please...sometimes I feel like I'm in the middle of world war three!!! They all get great grades, they all are considered "great" girls by everyone else..."such angels you should be so proud" and all we ever get is attitude, taken for granted and treated like we are the biggest embarassement known to teens anywhere! I wish I could give you advice...but all I have is are not alone and someday we will all be able to laugh at our children as they go through this "stage" with their children!! Personally, I plan on enjoying watching them deal with it!! So, I guess we just have to take a deep breath, stay consistant, and hope they grow out of this stage quickly!! I have a small ray of hope now as our oldest is learning how to keys are a powerfull incentive!! Best wishes and Happy Anniversery!!



answers from Philadelphia on

Hello L.,

I have raised a son who is now 21 and I have a stepson-to-be and he is 14. So, I've been there and know EXACTLY how you feel.

For one. You MUST stop yelling at him. Yelling is an extremely ineffective method and is simply a release of your own frustrations, and is not teaching him how to control his own anger and frustration. In addition to that, the yelling is TEACHING him that he doesn't actually have to listen to you until you yell. So, you are perpetuating the very behavior you want to stop. And the last reason to stop yelling is that it isn't a behavior you would do to another adult that you worked with, for example, or a fellow parent. Therefore, it isn't appropriate to yell at him either. As he moves closer and closer to adulthood, he needs to be treated more and more as an adult with adult consequences for his behavior.

Developmentally and emotionally, your son is moving toward manhood. When he is a man, he is going to need to provide for his family and be a decision-maker and be self-sufficient, etc. In order to accomplish those things, he needs to pull away from you, as his mother, emotionally. What woman wants to marry a momma's boy? What man wants to be percieved as a momma's boy? Your son has to learn how to honor and respect you as his mother without appearing weak and wimpy to his friends, and he doesn't know how to do that yet (it is the same with his teachers and his father). All he is feeling is the innate NEED to not listen, to not obey, to not comply with what he is being told, etc. Your opportunity is NOW to teach him how to balance his need to act like a grown man and to respect the authority that is still over him.

So, just go through your mind and decide what the real world consequences are to doing some of the things you mentioned. If he was living in his own apartment right now, or going to college, or going to work, what would happen if he didn't complete an assignment, or clean up after himself, or be late to work?

I remember one time when my son was 14 he complained about his math homework. He said, "I'm not going to do this assignment, it's stupid." and instead of trying to talk him into it or explain why he needed to do his homework or whatever, I simply shrugged my shoulders and said, "Ok, then don't do it." and he said, very surprised, "I HAVE to do it or I'll get in trouble!" and I said, "Then get in trouble." He just didn't know what to do. I had called his bluff, and and he wasn't prepared. I remember him turning around and walking up the stairs and saying under his breath, "I'm going to do my math."

Another time, he complained about how a teacher just wasn't teaching something right, etc, and I listened to him and simply said, "I understand how frustrating it is to have a teacher who isn't helping you to understand, however, it isn't the teacher's grade that will end up on your transcript, it is yours. So, YOU need to figure out how YOU are going to learn this material. Do you need a tutor? Do you need to get a friend in your class to help you?" and the conversatin continued until he had several options available for him to take responsibility for his own learning and then he had the power to decide how he was going to proceed to help himself.

When it comes to school, you just might need to let him get in trouble for not doing his homework, or whatever, because in college there will be no mother or father to remind him. He will need to do it on his own. In fact, of my 4 children, two who are graduated from high school and two how are currently in high school, I hardly ever remind them to do their homework. It is their responsibility, and if they don't do it, then they will suffer the consequences on their own. Period.

About the carpool, I'd instruct the carpool people NOT to wait on him more than 5 minutes. If he doesn't get his ride, what would an adult have to do? Well, one solution is to call a cab. Taxi's cost money and you can't always rely on their timliness. My good friend who is a single mom did this to her son. She instructed him that if he ever missed the bus or his carpool, then he was to call a taxi to take himself to school and he needed to pay for it himself. It took exactly ONE TIME for this to happen, and he never missed his bus or carpool again.

Chores. Now that is another matter. No person comes to you as an adult and tells you when to do your laundry or clean up your kitchen, and if they did, you'd probably be insulted. Remember that. When you tell a young adult to do something "now", it is insulting and they will resist. So, let him know in advance when you want the job done by, and if it isn't completed, what the consequences will be. For one, I don't require that they clean their rooms. That is for them to determine. Just learn to close the door if it bothers you.

Let's say you want your son to put his shoes in his room and you are fixing dinner. Say, "I want you to put your shoes in your room before dinner." Simple and sweet. You also need to figure out what is the consequence of him not doing that. Be creative. One option is to put them in a box in the attic (or some other remote place) and he won't be able to have them back until he earns them back by doing some kind of chore (like cleaning out the car, for example). If he loses some things because he didn't listen to directions the first time, and then he had to earn them back, he'll soon figure out that listening the first time will save him quite a lot of trouble.

I taught my kids from birth to listen to me the FIRST time when I am speaking in a normal voice. I do not and I will not yell at them. If I have to repeat myself or I feel myself getting angry, I will simply say to them, "I do not feel like you are listening to me and that is making me angry." or I will say, "If I have to repeat myself again, there will be a consequence." (I will say that about the 2nd time or so) I try to make it as close to a real life consequence as possible, or something that directly correlates to the issue. I've taken away the cell phone when they have talked back, explaining, "If you cannot use your mouth correctly, you don't need to use your mouth." I've made them work to repay debts. I've let them wear dirty clothes if they forgot to do their own laundry. The list goes on and on.

I hope some of these suggestions help. My kids are wonderful people and are a joy to be around and they are very loving and I wouldn't have traded being their mom for anything in the world!

My final word is: parenting changes in teenager land. If you try to treat your teen as you did when they were younger, you WILL get resistence, either overtly or covertly. They deserve more respect than that. They need to be taught to deserve the freedom that is gained in adulthood balanced with the responsibility required by adulthood. The more you treat them in this way, the more they will respond with the maturity you are working toward.

All the Best,



answers from Philadelphia on

Having lived through raising three teenagers, I can tell you what you already know, but if you are like me, need to be reminded of. This is a developmental stage that is scary, but it too will pass. And how he treats you is really not personal. It is developmental.
Now, screaming only hurts your throat and aggravates you. How do you develop strategies that will work with your son? Well, it is trial and error. The best that worked for me were having calm family meetings, both parents present, where we explored alternatives for solving the problem.
For example, you state the problem. I don't like having to scream at you when I see that you do not do [what is needed to be done.] or respond to my reminders. How can we avoid that? You also give him a chance to vent on what he is unhappy about in your parenting. If he won't pitch in at home, then you have a discussion about how you cannot do your work and all of the housework, and that it is the job of everyone who lives there. You can talk about a fair way of dividing things up and even letting people do what they find is more enjoyable and less objectionable.
I remember a discussion with my daughter about getting her homework done. She tried to tell me that C's were okay. I said they were for some kids but not for her because she was capable of doing better. I asked her if she had a vision of what college she wanted to go to. She said she wanted to go with intelligent and interesting people. So I said, if that was her goal, she could not get C's. After further discussion about how she did not want me bugging her about homework, I made a deal with her that I would refrain from bugging her for a month, if she would agree to get her homework done, before messing around. She did it, and I got to stop bugging her.
Maybe your son will have difference kinds of solutions. But he needs to own the solution, or he won't do it. So, treat him like the adult he hopes to be, and involve him in the process. If you and your husband are both part of the process, he will have unified parents and he won't have one to play off against the other.
That does not mean you won't get frustrated and want to scream your head off, but it might lessen the occurrences, and it will teach him better lessons. Good luck.



answers from Philadelphia on

Hi there,

No, I don't have a teen, but I taught high schoolers for 10 years. From conversations we had (I taught English and due to the types of stories we read, many times family relationships came up), teenagers don't like getting yelled at. Actually, I don't think anyone does. And it's even stressing you out.

Sounds like your son and you need to sit down and talk. You need to be straight up with him and tell him how you feel. Use "I" statements such as: "I feel ______________ when you choose not to _____________." Try to stay away from being accusatory or blaming which I understand is hard to do when you know he is choosing to be irresponsible. That will only make him tune you out. Sure, he'll look at you, but inside he will just shut off.

Be honest with him. Tell him that you don't like yelling at him. Explain why. How does it make you feel? Your husband? Why have you been doing it? Is it because you don't know of another way of getting through? If so, explain that to him. If it's another reason (ie, how your parents communicated their displeasure with your choices), then tell him that. Explain to him that you don't want to do that anymore. Ask him for suggestions in terms of how you can better communicate with him. Is he the type that needs 20 minutes to unwind after he gets home from school before he is asked to do certain things? Does he need downtime for himself? If so, outline those times so that you can respect his need to be alone and not have to do chores or whatever it is you want him to do. Keep in mind that on a given school day, he has sat through five or so forty to fifty minute classes of someone telling him what to do. He has had to sit there an obey; you have the chance to establish a relationship with him built on mutual understanding of one another's needs. You need him to do x, y and z, and he needs ____________ from you.

Also, make consequences. Kids need consequences -- they've admitted exactly that to me when I taught. If there is not a consequence for choosing not to do what is asked of them, why would they do it in the first place? Consequences don't have to be so severe where your kid is grounded for a week in his room. Rather, perhaps you suspend a privilege. Take away something important to him. But before you do that, you need to set the parameters. Let him know what's at stake BEFORE you simply enforce the consequence. Imagine taking a class at school and the teacher tells you that you will be penalized for submitting a late paper. Well, let's say you interpret this to mean you'll lose 10 points when your teacher really meant that you will get a big fat zero on it. Imagine your chagrin when the teacher gives you that consequence but failed to explain it to you upfront. Do that with your son when you are having your talk.

Hope this is helpful. More than likely he knows he is being a nudge. You're a great parent because you care and recognize that what you are doing isn't working. Now sit down and let him know this and figure out a way to make it work.

Good luck!

T. :)


answers from Philadelphia on

The teens are an interesting time in parenthood. Talk to him at a time when you do not have anything that you want him to do. Tell him how it makes you feel when you ask him to do a favor and he does not do it. Keep it short. Very short. Ask him if there is a reason that he has a hard time doing these things for you. Keep your tone mellow and even friendly. Do not be defensive or judgmental when he opens up to you. He may say something that you do not want to hear or something that you may feel is "silly". This is not an inquisition. Involve him in coming up with strategies to help him get more organized and interested in helping. When you ask him to move his shoes is he in the middle of a movie or activity. He may not feel that you are not respecting his time and so he may be reacting to that. When you ask him to do something give a time frame so that he can choose. "Please move your shoes before dinner" "Please empty the dishwasher before bed" . Also let him feel the natural consequences of his actions. If he does not do his homework his teacher can handle that and that may be a more powerful message than mom and dad "Nagging".

I would love to talk about this further if you are interested.

B. Davis
Child And Family Coaching
Sign Up For My Montgomery County Community College Parenting Series. Choose 1, 2 Or All 3 Classes. Go to For Details.
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answers from Harrisburg on

Welcome to the world of teenagers! I'm on my second. My oldest is 21. My current is 13. I swear, once puberty sets in they go blonde on me, lol. There's lots of hormones surging and their brains really do act differently. Forgetfulness is huge. Lack of interest goes on the rise. Testing the waters is a biggy. They're in a totally different stage and closer to manhood and need to be prepared as such. Have a sit down and let him know the new rules that will be in place. You will ask for something to be done, and remind once. If it's still not done, then a punishment will be handed out. You decide, but it must be something that will be a wake up call. You will be called unfair and all that good stuff, but you must break the cycle now before it gets worse down the road, and trust me, things will get worse, lol. Driving privileges come into play, dating, all that good stuff so lay the ground rules now. He'll think it's ridiculous that you ground him from the TV for a few days over not picking up his shoes. You simply agree and tell him yes, you're right! It is ridiculous that you would choose being grounded from the TV for 3 days rather than just pick up your shoes and put them away. He needs to understand that these are choices he's making. He is part of the family and the family is a team. You can also use the analogy of the family being a wheel and when a spoke breaks the wheel starts to falter. Stay firm and calm and let him know ahead of time what the consequences are so there's no surprises and he can make the right choices.

K. B
mom to 5 including triplets
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answers from Pittsburgh on

Hi L.,
I have a fourteen year old daughter that is the same way. I have found through discussions at work. That I am not alone. Apparently this is the way of teenagers. This is my second teenager, and they are both this way. We have tried the charts, they worked for maybe a week or so, and then back to the normal way of their lives. It is a constant battle, however, the way I have found to get to my kids is that I start limiting the things they love the best. Sometimes I take them away completely. Things such as TV time, cell phones, computer, game systems, going out with friends. Good luck with your son!

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