Is My Child Lazy?
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 DIFFERNCE.
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 and rearranged.
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 self govern.
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.
Good luck and God bless. You do the most important work in the world.
Judy H. Wright, Parent Educator
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 www.ArtichokePress.com. You have permission to use the article providing full credit is given to author. She may be contacted at 406-549-9813 or JudyWright@ArtichokePress.com
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