I hesitate even using this title because I completely disagree with labeling our kids, even to ourselves. When a child feels labeled, they’re more likely make the prophecy come true and become set in the way they’ve been labeled.
I don’t believe that there are any “lazy” children. I don’t even think there are really any “unmotivated” children. I DO think that some children behave lazily or act as though they lack motivation.
There are many reasons a child might seem lazy or lacking in motivation. Here are a few common ones:
- Lifestyle behaviors could be leading to sluggishness – make sure your child is getting enough sleep and maintaining a healthy diet.
- Is your child discouraged about something or feeling inferior for some reason? If so, it’s possible that they’re being “lazy” because they’re afraid of failing and just can’t be bothered to try.
- Your child might actually be highly motivated, just in the wrong direction. Try to identify what your child could possibly be gaining or achieving through their “lazy” behavior. Are you or other family members doing some of their responsibilities because they’re so “lazy”? Or are you giving them lots of negative attention?
- Your child hasn’t yet discovered what truly interests and motivates them, or connected into it.
Knowing why your child might be acting lazily can help you find an effective strategy to help them engage in their life more actively, or develop a better work ethic. Here are a few ideas that might help motivate them:
1. Focus on learning more about what interests your child. Expose them to a broad range of activities, hobbies, research topics, etc. so they have the opportunity to discover more of their own interests.
2. Plan lots of active activities to do as a family. Some children don’t have as much others by nature and therefore aren’t as physically active. It’s sometimes easier for them to exercise and be active as part of a group.
3. Make a clear schedule for your child. Have a set list of tasks they need to complete in a certain amount of time. This can help children with lazy habits to become more accountable with the way they use their time. After making their schedule for them for a few days in a row, include your child in the process so they learn how to manage their own time well.
4. Establish short term objectives for your child. Some children appear lazy because they are daunted by the tasks they should be doing. Rather than jump in when they’re not sure how to proceed, they’d rather avoid the work altogether. If you take a larger task or activity and break it down into smaller steps and objectives, your child can find a clear starting point and beginning working on something they know they can succeed at.
5. Help your child keep their mind active. Some children will never be as physically active as others, but keeping their mind busy can help prevent laziness from setting in. Give them books to read, things to research, and problems to solve. Encourage them to learn a musical instrument, or take up some other hobby that will keep their mind active and growing.
6. If your child enjoys “down time,” teach them how to make it a part of their day without jeopardizing their responsibilities. It’s fine for them to have some peaceful time on the couch, after they’ve gotten x, y or z done, or to take a 10 minute quiet break, as long as they can then refocus themselves again.
7. Give your child gifts that encourage them to be active. Cross movies and electronics off the list. Choose toys, games or other gifts that require engagement – sports equipment, group games, books, hobby kits, etc.
8. Limit behaviors that feed into your child’s “lazy” habits. You could, for example, allow your child to watch TV or play video games for half an hour a day, and that’s it. Even if they complain or whine about it, stick to your decision. This encourages your child to find other, more active ways to fill their time.
9. Is your child just hanging around because they don’t have any good ideas? Give them a boredom buster jar, or try some of these other strategies for helping a bored child.
10. Include physical exercise as part of your routine as much as possible. You could walk to the local library or store with your child, garden together, pull weeds, decorate the house, etc. There are countless things you can do that are needed and increase your child’s activity level at the same time.
11. Build your child’s self-confidence. If your child lacks motivation because they are afraid of failing and can’t be bothered to try, building their self-esteem can give them the confidence they need to take risks and try new things anyway.