How to Motivate a Lazy Child

Lazy Child
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The everyday battles with kids - whether it’s a fight over walking the dog, completing math homework or simply getting out of bed and getting dressed in the morning – can tire you out. IF you find that despite your best efforts to model a productive, engaged lifestyle, your child prefers watching TV, playing video games or sniping at you every time you ask a chore to be done, you’re not alone. Many parents fear they’re raising a “lazy” child.

The good news is, many children who appear lazy, aren’t actually lazy at heart. Instead, they simply need parents to identify what’s holding them back from being productive. There are several discipline strategies that can encourage unmotivated kids to get moving on a daily basis.

Determine the Root Cause of the “Laziness”

Don’t confuse laziness with defiance. In some cases, like when you ask your child to get ready for school or clean his room, he might refuse in an attempt to test his limits.

There also may be times where your child just isn’t interested in following directions – like when you ask him to complete his homework. Your child might be frustrated, such as when he has math homework that he simply doesn’t understand, and he manifests his frustration by refusing to do the homework entirely. Whatever the case, determining why your youngster is unwilling to complete his tasks is the first step into figuring out how to appropriately motivate him.

Create Expectations, Rewards and Consequences

Clearly state what you expect from your child, using “I” statements. This might mean saying, “I want you to do your homework now,” or “I want you to practice your instrument for 30 minutes.” Once you state your expectations, give your child an opportunity to complete the task.

If he doesn’t get moving, follow through with a negative consequence, such as taking away privileges. A child who doesn’t have time or motivation to finish homework doesn’t have time to play video games nor watch TV.

On the other hand, hard work should be rewarded. While basic daily tasks such as household chores, homework or even just getting ready for school do not require rewards, going above and beyond does. This might include doing extra chores, getting an A+ on a test after studying hard or choosing to volunteer with an organization on a weekend. Rewards don’t have to cost money, but might include an extra dollar in her allowance, a special treat after dinner or an extra half an hour on television on a Sunday evening.

Cultivate Interest

Remember Newton’s First Law of Motion: An object at rest stays at rest. An object in motion stays in motion. In other words, if you let your child frequently laze about around the house, it will be harder to get him up and motivated when you decide that’s what you want.

Therefore, it’s up to you to cultivate interests and activities that will boost overall productivity in your child’s life.

It’s not likely you’ll be able to create interest for your child to clean his room, rake the leaves or help you clean the basement; however, you can cultivate overall motivation to get up off the couch and turn off the TV or video game console by digging into potential new exciting hobbies or educational opportunities. For example, a number of visits to local historical sites or museums can help spark a desire to work harder in history class, while a visit to the science museum might generate an interest that area of academics.

To cultivate a desire to get more physical exercise, start attending sporting events or playing rounds of tennis or basketball. Join your child in these activities to help show him that physical activity can be more fun than lazing around the living room.

Encourage, Don’t Criticize

It’s not only important to encourage your child, but also to encourage him appropriately. It’s not enough to tell a “lazy” child how smart he is. Constantly telling your child how smart he is builds the impression that it comes naturally and, therefore, he doesn’t have to work harder. Instead, praise your child’s efforts, even if that hard work doesn’t always pay off - such as if he truly toiled on his science project, but didn’t reap any rewards.

Avoid criticizing your child for his inactivity. In most cases, children respond better to positive feedback and criticism leads them to think, “Why bother?” Make note of the child’s improvements and progress, not his letdowns.

Children think differently than adults. A sense of responsibility is a value that needs to be instilled by the parent. Before you deem your child to be “lazy,” consider that they haven’t yet had the proper lessons to be motivated and productive - and then determine how you, as the parent, can help to become the productive person you want him to be.

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