Terrible twos seem tame compared to the terrible teens

<< Return to Media Releases 2005

For generations teenagers have been labelled lazy, out-of-control and angst-ridden.

Films such as Rebel Without a Cause (1955), The Breakfast Club (1985) and even Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) all depict teenagers and their tumultuous plights.

Communication gaps, teen isolation, and teen angst are favorites with Hollywood and society.

However, Australian psychologists will tell you there are underlying reasons teens can seem lazy, out-of-control, and angst-ridden. Presenting at the 40th Australian Psychological Society Annual Conference, researchers offer new insight and hope to the age-old issue of teenage-angst.

Is there a problem or are they just lazy?

Does your child bring home their report card with comments such as ‘lazy’, ‘needs to make more effort’ or ‘needs to try harder’?

Researchers Professor Gillian Boulton-Lewis and Dr Linda Gilmore are investigating what makes a child lazy and have discovered it might not just be lack of motivation affecting their school results – there might be an underlying learning disability, or other type of underlying problem.

“Poor academic performance can create significant problems for a child’s future, often impacting on employment opportunities, criminality and even mental health problems.

“We studied 50 children and their families to assess their academic motivation. Factors such as unrecognised learning difficulties and other types of problems were identified as being possible explanations for the laziness,” says Dr Linda Gilmore.

This discovery, and acknowledgement that not all children are ‘just being lazy’ will enable psychologists and other health professionals to intervene, address the underlying problem and promote motivation and school achievement.

“Successful new treatments can be developed to improve the lives of individual children, their parents and the wider community.

So the next time your child brings home a disappointing report card or won’t do their homework, they might not just be ‘lazy’ after all.

--- Ends ---

Dr Linda Gilmore is available for interview and presents her research today at the 40th Australian Psychological Society Annual Conference in Melbourne, 28 September – 2 October.