How to Deal with a Lazy Child (4 Simple Steps)

how to deal with a lazy child

Laziness is in the eye of the beholder. What a parent might see as “lazy,” a child may call a “much-needed rest.”

I go through this on a weekly basis with my own teenager. I have tried things that work and some that don’t.

Hopefully, you can learn from both.

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Dealing With a Lazy Child

Rule out any mental or emotional health issues first. A talk with a counselor or licensed therapist will help in this regard. Next, think about your child’s schedule. Are they overworked at school? If so, cut them some slack at home. Lastly, provide goals and rewards in exchange for effort.

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Step 1: Determine if Laziness is the True Issue

boy with laptop sitting in the sofa

Children are often over-scheduled and far busier than they should be. Likewise, many kids don’t get enough sleep.

Your child’s perceived laziness maybe exhaustion. Before worrying about a lazy child, ask first if other factors are at play.

This is a “do as I say, not as I do” moment. I yelled at my son on Sunday for being lazy. I know, yelling is wrong. I was angry, and I let my emotions overcome me.

He refused to leave the sofa, put down his phone, or change out of his pajamas. At 10 AM, he declared he was going back to bed. That was when the yelling happened.

He reminded me that he is 16, has perfect grades, spends hours every week at football practice, is in student government, and has a lead role in two school plays. He’s not lazy; he’s drained.

I apologized to him, discussed cutting back on activities, and agreed to stop giving him a hard time as long as he agreed to change out of his jammies.

Step 2: Make a List of Expected Behaviors

mother and daughter looking at the paper

Occam’s Razor tells us that sometimes the simplest explanation is the right one. Maybe your child is just being lazy. This is when a list of expected behaviors and chores is necessary.

Any chores should be reasonable. For example, your child should be expected to do all of their homework, tidy their room and/or take care of a few small household chores.

They should not be expected to clean the entire house, cook full meals or get first place in every competition they enter.

What you perceive as laziness could be a child overwhelmed by too many responsibilities. Keep your expectations high but not unreachable.

Step 3: Develop a Rewards and Punishments System

Once you make your list, let the kids know your expectations.

In my home, no extra-curricular activities are allowed if homework isn’t turned in. We also require some form of physical activity every day before they can play video games.

You might offer your child an allowance or extra screen time in exchange for completing their daily list. If encouragement doesn’t work, remove some of the items that are distracting them.

Just remember to keep punishment proportional. Don’t ground your child for a week because they forgot to unload the dishwasher.

Step 4: Seek Therapy if Needed

man touching forehead while listening t therapist

If your child has emotional or mental issues that need to be addressed, don’t wait to get help. If money is an issue, speak to your school guidance counselor about options.

A mom recently asked me if I had any tips about what to do with her 16-year-old son. Her son technically attends school with my son, but he hasn’t physically shown up to school in a while.

According to this mother, he sleeps most of the day, is impossible to rouse, and says he hates school and never wants to return. She cannot force him out of bed. What should she do?

I suggested that she talk to a therapist as this appears to be much more than laziness at play. He is showing some genuine signs of depression.

As a depression sufferer myself, I understand the need to get real, professional help.

Children who suffer from depression are not lazy, and they are not lost causes. They simply need a different kind of help that will allow them to manage their days.

Most parents aren’t equipped for this. It’s why there are so many therapists who specialize in child psychology.

Talk to a Therapist Online

Venting can be very therapeutic, but relying too much on friends and family can be a bad thing. Instead, seek out a licensed therapist who’s also a neutral third party at your convenience. For a limited time get a 20% discount.

Key Takeaways

There are ways to manage lazy children, but first you need to make sure what you are facing is laziness and not something else.

Do you have issues with lazy children? How do you deal with it? Tell us in the comments!

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Frequently Asked Questions

Taking an interest and offering encouragement and support is one of the best ways to motivate an unmotivated child. By keeping the dialog open, you’ll get an opportunity to find out what the real issue is because it’s seldom a child that’s genuinely just lazy.

Generally speaking, it’s not okay to call your child lazy, even if the outward appearance is such. A child could be struggling with depression, being overworked, or just exhausted. Calling a child lazy questions their work and character while very seldom getting to a root cause.

Your child could be “lazy” because they have too many chores and responsibilities that they have to do.