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Is My Kid Lazy?

How to motivate your kid and ask the right questions

Jasmine Banks

Published on: September 17, 2018

Kid asleep on desk

One quick Google search of “Is my child lazy?” and you’ll find a deluge of articles on the top ways to whip your lazy kid into shape. But we’re asking the wrong question. 

What exactly is laziness? Is it a child who has Attention Deficit Disorder but who’s not being stimulated in the right way? Is it a child of a single working parent who has less time to invest in their education? Is it a child who doesn’t clean their own room?

One person’s “lazy” is often another person’s outstanding so rather than force dynamic people into narrow boxes, let’s ask better questions. It’s not asking “Is my child lazy?” It’s asking: “In the context of my culture and my relationship, how do I help motivate my child?”

So how do you determine what motivates your child?

Adjust your language

Find creative ways to ask them what they need to accomplish a goal. We often speak to young people in ways that do not resonate with them. Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know.

I often say to my child, “I would really like you to take more responsibility for keeping your space clean. How can I support you doing that?” My child will join me in brainstorming organizational ideas or even troubleshooting approaches that didn’t work.

Play detective

Children are raised in a variety of ways. Is the behavior that you perceive as lazy really something else? Children, like adults, have social and community experiences. Consider there might be something else causing a lack of motivation in your child. Reject character judgments of laziness and try to discover why your child isn’t completing certain tasks.


This is another way of saying "pick your battles." Are you worried about being judged by others for your child’s behavior? Is this about social status or stress? Always prioritize the health of your relationship with your child over the expectations of others. 

Focus on the best ways to motivate your child instead of simply calling them lazy will help honor the humanity of your child. By showing empathy and being curious about their behavior, it will lead to less stress for both you and your child.

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