Is Your Child Lazy?
By Judy H. Wright
Is there a difference between lazy and unmotivated? Why do some
children move as if in slow motion? Is this normal or are they
just trying to irritate you? You may be surprised to learn that
a great many factors come into play when a child appears to be
lazy; stage of growth, hormones, hunger, motivation, lack of
clear directions and maybe even sleep deprivation.
I have never taught my workshop of "Kids,
Chores & More" when there hasn't been at least two
parents of 11 year old boys lamenting that their sons are so
lazy. Actually, they aren't lazy. They are growing. It takes
so much energy for young boys to develop muscles, long bones
etc. that they don't have much left over to run the vacuum or
take out the garbage.
Food and Rest Make a Big Difference
I also found, with our son at that age, that
what I regarded as an attitude problem was solved somewhat by
making sure he had plenty of food and adequate rest. He was
growing so fast that it took many more calories to just get
through the day than it had months before. It was a real eye
opener to us to find that he needed 3,000 calories a day and ten
hours of sleep.
Make Realistic Expectations of the Child
While no two children and their families are
exactly alike, careful studies and reports of thousands of
normal children have made it possible to somewhat monitor the
ages and stages of a growing child. While doing research on
motivating kids to help at home, it was obvious that parents
were frustrated by the lack of willingness to pitch in and do
their share of household maintenance.
In my books and workshops I stress the
importance of evaluating the physical, mental and emotional
levels of each age group. Perhaps the task is too hard, or even
too easy. It may be that your child is overwhelmed by the
assignment or even unchallenged. Surprisingly, children like a
project that they can succeed with but that allows them some
creativity. So instead of just assigning the dishes to be
unloaded, how about asking for the dish cupboards to be cleaned
Allow Them to Own the Problem
Parents frequently complain that the children
are not doing their tasks, but what they really feel is that
they are not being done "the right way" which is their way.
When the child knows that the parent will complain, redo or
criticize the work, it is easier to not start. While it is not
necessary, nor honest to praise work that is done sloppy, it is
not our job to redo or to criticize the worker. If the job truly
belongs to the child, then allow them to do it in their way.
In any new endeavor, it takes about five months
of consistent, daily attention before it becomes automatic
action. In order to change habits, we may have to try many
different tactics. Children easily become bored, and we forget
to follow through.
Most children thrive on structure, routine and
schedules. When we set limits and realistic expectations it
gives a sense of security and boundaries which are actually
comforting to the child. Many parents, me included, often think
our children dislike limits because they test them so often.
However, children are just testing the
boundaries and rules because they seek frequent reassurance that
we mean what we say and are prepared to enforce the limits.
Hopefully, we have discussed the rationale of said limits in a
family council and there is a clear understanding of the rules
and consequences and they understand that our role is not a
slave driver, but rather a kind and loving parent who will give
loving guidelines which will enrich their life and teach them to
Don't Take it Personally
Many of the irritating things a child does on
daily basis at home happen because the child doesn't know any
better, is incapable of handling the task or because he or she
is trying to get our attention. If we can combine appropriate
working principles with positive and encouraging attention, our
homes are bound to be more functional and happy.
So, don't give up! Be determined to work as a
family to become more aware of what needs to be done to keep
daily life running smoothly. Make a conscious effort to gather
the tools, learn new skills, practice innovative methods and
face each day with a positive expectancy that you and your
family will succeed.
This article has
been written by Judy H. Wright, a parent educator and PBS
consultant. You will find a full listing of books, tele-classes,
and workshops listed at
You have permission to use the article providing full credit is
given to author. She may be contacted at 406-549-9813 or