Is her 6-year-old lazy or is it the mom?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz  October 26, 2009 06:00 AM

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Dear madam Barbara,

My son is 6 years old and he is bit lazy. He always depends on me for his daily routine. He is fussy in eating and gets angry for a silly reason. He always sleeps late at night and wake late in the morning. He goes to school and takes lot of time to learn his subjects. Sometime he lies and if I show care and love he responds to me. His father is so caring, loving, and he listens to him. Due to my son's nature, sometimes I feel a bit upset. Please suggest an answer to overcome this. Thank you very much madam Barbara.

From: MADHUMATHI NP, UDUPI, INDIA

Dear Madhumathi NP,

Children at the age of 6 tend not to be lazy by nature or stage of development, so I'm wondering if (1) your expectations for him are too high; (2) if you are doing a good enough job of setting limits and following through with consequences; and (3) if there is enough consistency in routines and schedules in your home.

I am sure that there are cultural differences between India and the US surrounding all of these issues, so while the routines themselves might vary from culture to culture, the need for the routines -- that is, the sense of comfort and security a child derives from the existence and predictability of routines -- is a human need that cuts across all cultures.


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14 comments so far...
  1. Wow, this woman has real problems! A 6 year old that is a picky eater, get's angry for "silly" reasons, and likes to sleep in. And a caring, loving father!? How can she ever survive such horror!

    Posted by Dad October 26, 09 07:35 AM
  1. Hhhhmmmmm. I completely disagree about six year olds "tending not to be lazy," although I do know that some of my Mommy peers tend to think this is a dirty word and bad label. Now, I'm not saying to label a kid as lazy, but I believe they certainly can be so on occasion, sometimes to a point of frustration to the adults that care for them.

    To set the scene: my little guy and I are shopping for his shoes for back to school. He has extra wide feet and needs dark shoes to go with his uniform, but they also need to be good for playground running. Choices that meet our needs at Stride Rite are limited and we seem to end up with the same shoes every year. He spies a cool "different" pair that have laces: "Mom, what about these?" Mom says "Hmmm, those are pretty nice, I like them. But you'd have to learn to tie laces if we got those. I'd be SO HAPPY to teach you how to do it if you want to learn." Child: "Um, uh, nah. Better look for another pair." (Hey, at least he knows he isn't going to uphold his end of the bargain. This has saved us 40 mornings of frustration already!!)

    Apply this same attitude towards zippering jackets, opening cheese sticks and straws for juice boxes, pedaling a bicycle, looking up at me when he doesn't know a word he's reading instead of looking at the word to sound it out...

    I refuse to accept that my son is slow to learn, because from my perspective there is a HUGE difference in the results of effort applied when his attitude towards doing something is positive. When he doesn't care about the task at hand or it doesn't mean anything to him to make an independent achievement, he doesn't try.

    Not trying = laziness.

    Posted by RH October 26, 09 07:47 AM
  1. All of the things that you state that he avoids seem to have to do with gross and fine motor skills. Those might be a weakness for him, so he lacks confidence in this area. This is not laziness, but the result of experiencing frustration. If he is very bright, he is used to getting things quickly, so when there are areas that he struggles in, the frustration is amplified.

    The child needs patience, support, and encouragement. There are some things he just learns more slowly.

    Posted by Tina October 26, 09 11:05 AM
  1. Ah, but yet when it comes to dressing his Playmobil pirates and setting up a complicated track design on the train table, he doesn't need my help, because these are things that he wants to do. Support and encouragement from me are not all that is required for my children to succeed - they need to try their best as well.

    Posted by RH October 26, 09 11:34 AM
  1. I'd like to address the issue of lying in a 6-year old. In my experience as a mother of 3 and grandmother of 9, 6-year-olds lie like rugs. They just seem to say whatever is going to get them out of trouble without the least bit of guilt. My strategy for dealing with that is first, not to put them in a position where they will lie - if the lamp is on the floor and they're the only ones in the room, don't ask if they knocked the lamp over. And, when catching them in a lie, help them save face a little, by saying, "I think you meant to say that you knocked the lamp over, didn't you?" If you press them in a punitive way, they just reiterate the lie. After they admit the lie, you can say, "You know I always expect you to tell the truth because people in our family are very honest people" or some such.

    Posted by Sandy October 26, 09 01:21 PM

  1. RH, with all due respect, since parenting is the hardest job in the world, are you LETTING him continue to "Apply this same attitude towards zippering jackets, opening cheese sticks and straws for juice boxes, pedaling a bicycle, looking up at me when he doesn't know a word he's reading instead of looking at the word to sound it out..." at 6 years old? If you're leaving him the opportunity to do these things and he physically can't do it, not after the first second of an attempt, but after weeks of practice, that may in fact lead to frustration on both yoaurts, but is ;necessary to learn any new skill, then kudos to you for trying and maybe Tina is right, he needs some furhter motor skill attention. But, if he's looking to you for these things and you are simply doing them for him without giving him the opportunity to work them out for himself, then maybe he has learned his, what you call laziness, from you mom. The examples you have given seem to all be appropriate tasks and skills that a 6 year old should be learning, so maybe the laziness is on your part in not wanting to deal iwth the time and inevitable frustration that will result in giving him the space, encouragement and confidence to master these tasks himself, not in ten seconds but over the appropriate amount of time it would take any 6 year old to learn these things. Too many parents these days are in too much of a hurry to get to the next thing, or get through the current task to let their children learn properly how to do these things for themselves.

    Try giving him the chance to try it, and the chance to fail. This is the only way any of us learn, child or adult, an the only way we avoid falling into the "lazy" trap.


    Posted by Stacy Buckley October 26, 09 01:27 PM
  1. LAZINESS - 6 year olds do depend on structure & limit setting from mom &/or dad. 6 year olds are not lazy by virtue of their development. Sounds like he's tired! Also are you doing things for him because its "easier"? Don't ever do this....when he's a preteen or older he'll take advantage but not now! He's only 6.

    FUSSY EATER - do you "like" or "not like" things? Do you ask him if he "likes something" or do you tell him or others around you "he does not like that"? LIKE is something that adults impose on children. In general kids like almost everything that their parents "like" and if they don't like it now when they're teens or adults they will likely "like" these items! Give him a healthy, well rounded diet of items that he "likes" & then expand here & there. Never force. Put food on the table and don't comment on it, just ask "how much would you like" instead of "do you want....". Let him see mom, dad, friends & relatives eating patterns. Telling him to eat will never work. Choices are great at a restaurant but not at home or when visiting; this is one of those things that's simply not an option. When he's hungry he'll eat.

    ANGRY FOR SILLY REASONS - is your son looking for your attention & quite possibly the only way he can get it is by "getting angry for silly reasons"? Does he get "angry" for others or just for mom? This is negative attention. Stop responding to these displays and by all means never call it "anger". Just tell him to stop the specific behavior you're seeing as "angry". Specifically address the behavior and tell him that if the behavior does not stop by the time you count to 3 that he'll be on a time out for 6 minutes (use a minute for every year of age). When he calms down ask him why he was "sad" or "upset". The word anger has a negative connotation.

    This 1, 2, 3 technique works, I used it with both of my kids probably until they were in their early teens. Sometimes I may laugh to myself because they are so cute when they're pushing the envelope or being "fresh" but it does work and eventually when you get to "1" the behavior will stop! Always address specific behavior, never tell the child "you" are bad - instead say "this yelling is unacceptable and stop, if you don't stop by the time I count to 3 then you'll be on time out". Then without saying anything else, tell him to go to his room and if he does not then he'll be on 2 time outs. Sounds like a silly technique but it really works.

    Also, with lying, let him know that if he tells the truth he'll only get in "xx" trouble (ie a little bit) but if he does not (again don't use the word "lie") tell the truth that "xx" trouble will then be "xxxxxxxxx" trouble and the punishment will go from a small punishment to a large punishment and "mommy knows that you'd rather be in a little trouble instead of alot of trouble".

    GOING TO BED LATE AT NIGHT - put him to bed at the same time every night (this does take effort on your part but it is well worth it) and let him know what time that is, let him see the clock, he's old enough to be taught but definately not old enough to do it himself. My kids still need reminders in their late teens to go to bed or they'd be up all night!

    WAKING UP LATE - wake him up at the same time every school day and on weekends he'll wake up earlier. If not make some subtle noise so he wakes up. This may mean that you'll be up earlier too but again well worth it. When he's a teen then you'll get your sleep! I promise behaviors will improve with this routine.

    LIES - use the 1, 2, 3 method. If he does not tell the truth then he receives a time out. Never tell him he's a liar or tell him that he's lying because then it is the expectation. Never let him know that you anticipate that he's lying. Lay low & see if you can figure out if he's lying or not without letting him know - unless of course it is a safety issue (ie lighting matches, running across the street, etc.). Tell a child (or any person) he is something negative or that you expect negative behavior and I guarantee that he will turn into that "something".

    On the other hand tell him that you have high expectations, that you know that he's a good boy, that you know how smart he is, that he's such a good student, eater, reader, etc. He will want to live up to your expectations. This is a proven fact.

    MOM'S CARE & LOVE - this is something he's responding to so continue to provide this. In a few years you'll be lucky if you get a peck on the cheek or a quick "love you mom"! My kids are older teens and I let them know that this is OK, kisses, hugs and I love yous are always available from mom or dad! Never stop this!

    DAD'S ROLE - what a lucky son & dad and how lucky for you! Now you have to step back and see what it is that dad does that your son is responding to. Maybe he's calmer, maybe he does not spend as much time directly with your son. Whatever it is you have to learn from it and come up with your own techniques. Boys are wonderful and are a special gift to their moms. Relationships between moms and their sons are priceless. Tell your son he's "mommy's big boy", he may say stop it but deep inside he'll love it!

    Sounds like he's probably just a normal little boy needing some structure, limit setting & continued love from mom & dad. Also remember that teachers often "label" children especially boys. Studies have been done about this and boys that are developmentally normal or bored in class or picky eaters or fresh at times or curious or who "push the envelope" or who want to play instead of sit are NORMAL. Do not ever let yourself or your child fall into this trap. Boys have boundless energy and need to expend it. Remember that all kids develop differently. With structure & limit setting this is held in check.

    Good luck, I certainly miss my kids at such a great age! :)

    Posted by mom w/ 2 successful teens October 26, 09 01:29 PM
  1. RH, I'm with you. Kids can be lazy, and they can just not care enough to put forth effort, and it has nothing to do with ability.

    My 7 year old is perfectly capable of making his bed. I've seen him do it in 3 seconds if I make it clear that I will not call his friend's mom for a playdate unless he does. But other days, if he doesn't feel like it, it's sooooooo hard. It's tooooo messy. He caaaaan't do it. And so on.

    My 9 year old can make his own omelettes, build 3-D paper models of almost anything, and has been drawing with perspective since age 5. But he refuses to write neatly. Some of it is a learning disability related to spelling and reading, and he gets help for those. But a lot of it is he just doesn't care about schoolwork, and acts out by writing as sloppily as possible. So I let him take the consequences - he often has to do work twice, because it was so messy the first time his teacher (love this woman) sends it back to redo. He has eventually started to get the idea that messy work just generates more work, and being lazy doesn't pay.

    It is absolutely ok to call kids on their laziness, and parents who are with their kids, day in and day out, have a pretty good handle most of the time on what they can and can't do by themselves. Some kids would cheerfully let you wipe their behinds until college if you didn't call them on their laziness and make them fend for themselves.

    Posted by BMS October 26, 09 02:25 PM
  1. BMS I agree with you 100%. My oldest son has no work ethic at all, doing only the bare minimum of what he needs to do to get by unless it's something that he is interested in or benefits him directly. He is 11 now but this was a pretty clear personality trait early on. My younger sons are enthusiastic and willing helpers (and take pride in their work) but he simply isn't built the same way, so we live with it and impose consequences, rewards etc. but boy does it take work.

    To the LW, a lot of what you wrote resonates with me in that you son sounds like my oldest did at that age. He has always been one to fall asleep late and get up late, seems disproportionately angry, lies about the stupidest things, etc. He was diagnosed with AD/HD - primarily inattentive at age 8 and has some learning disabilities related to reading and writing. While we haven't used medication (yet) nutritional supplements and careful attention to diet continue to make a real difference for him and our family. The cornerstone of his nutritional supplementation has been a combination of essential fats (fish oil) along with something for adrenal support. Our diet is far from perfect but is mostly whole, fresh foods with lots of protein and whole grains and minimal amounts of processed foods, sugars, white flour, etc. Additionally, he plays hockey, which provides 4-5 hours of intense physical activity a week and he gets outdoors nearly every day, even in winter - walking to school, biking around the neighborhood, playing with friends etc. When all of these factors are working in synch, he is a much more relaxed, pleasant and helpful child.

    Posted by Jen October 26, 09 04:30 PM
  1. I knew someone who thought her kid was lazy his whole life - from the time the kid was 3 yrs old to adult. Come to find out recently, he was diagnosed with always having spinal bifida (not sure of spelling) - talk about the Mom and Child felt guilty all their lives untill recently. My advice is get the child a thorough check-up; which could reveal a "mild case" or "severe case" of an underlying physical problem that may not be clearly seen.

    Posted by Sybil October 26, 09 04:35 PM
  1. I just think it's reaaaallly interesting that so many people don't think kids can be lazy - that it's always the Mom that's doing something wrong. I happen to think I'm doing everything right that I can to combat this issue in our family: patience, love, time, and acceptance of failures with encouragement to keep trying.

    I'm L A Z Y about exercising. I hate to do it! Hate it! It doesn't make me feel good, I feel like there are other ways I could be spending my time that are more enjoyable to me - shopping, cooking, drinking coffee with a friend. But I have to do it. I have to face the thing I don't like to do, the thing that's hard for me, because somewhere along the line I realized that it's in my best interest to do it, whether I like it or not.

    So if it's not in the nature of a six year old to be lazy about things that are either difficult to master or are not enjoyable in general...when does this personality trait kick in? That's what I'd like to know. And who can I blame for my laziness towards this particular necessary evil? Can I blame my Mom? I don't think so. It's just part of who I am. But I can say that it was indeed my Mom who taught me how to work past my reluctance towards the things I don't like to do. And that's what I'm trying to do for my own kids. But to suggest that they don't have this inate human trait? Really silly.

    Posted by RH October 26, 09 05:55 PM
  1. Amen, RH.
    Given the choice between doing laundry and reading a murder mystery, I would cheerfully choose to sit on my behind with Agatha Christie. But being an adult, I have had to learn that laziness has consequences (like going naked to work). I didn't suddenly figure this out in a flash at age 18 - I had to learn this gradually over the course of my life. So when I was a grade schooler, if I was too lazy to put away my legos, then they might get vaccumed up by mom. If I was too lazy to organize my things in high school, I wasted time looking for missing assignments. If I didn't clean my dishes promptly in my college dorm room, I got mice scampering across my floor. But parents nowadays have bought into this idea that their children should never suffer from even momentary inconvenience, discomfort, or irritation. Unfortunately, you have to irritate the oyster to get a pearl.

    Posted by BMS October 28, 09 09:11 AM
  1. Kids can be hugely lazy! I truly believe everyone is born with a personality--you can see it in babies as young as six months old--and while behavior can be taught, you won't ever truly change a person. So if your child is lazy about things that require effort, you can work very hard to train them to be less so, but this will probably be a trait he or she will carry with them throughout life.

    Posted by mother of two October 28, 09 11:12 AM
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14 comments so far...
  1. Wow, this woman has real problems! A 6 year old that is a picky eater, get's angry for "silly" reasons, and likes to sleep in. And a caring, loving father!? How can she ever survive such horror!

    Posted by Dad October 26, 09 07:35 AM
  1. Hhhhmmmmm. I completely disagree about six year olds "tending not to be lazy," although I do know that some of my Mommy peers tend to think this is a dirty word and bad label. Now, I'm not saying to label a kid as lazy, but I believe they certainly can be so on occasion, sometimes to a point of frustration to the adults that care for them.

    To set the scene: my little guy and I are shopping for his shoes for back to school. He has extra wide feet and needs dark shoes to go with his uniform, but they also need to be good for playground running. Choices that meet our needs at Stride Rite are limited and we seem to end up with the same shoes every year. He spies a cool "different" pair that have laces: "Mom, what about these?" Mom says "Hmmm, those are pretty nice, I like them. But you'd have to learn to tie laces if we got those. I'd be SO HAPPY to teach you how to do it if you want to learn." Child: "Um, uh, nah. Better look for another pair." (Hey, at least he knows he isn't going to uphold his end of the bargain. This has saved us 40 mornings of frustration already!!)

    Apply this same attitude towards zippering jackets, opening cheese sticks and straws for juice boxes, pedaling a bicycle, looking up at me when he doesn't know a word he's reading instead of looking at the word to sound it out...

    I refuse to accept that my son is slow to learn, because from my perspective there is a HUGE difference in the results of effort applied when his attitude towards doing something is positive. When he doesn't care about the task at hand or it doesn't mean anything to him to make an independent achievement, he doesn't try.

    Not trying = laziness.

    Posted by RH October 26, 09 07:47 AM
  1. All of the things that you state that he avoids seem to have to do with gross and fine motor skills. Those might be a weakness for him, so he lacks confidence in this area. This is not laziness, but the result of experiencing frustration. If he is very bright, he is used to getting things quickly, so when there are areas that he struggles in, the frustration is amplified.

    The child needs patience, support, and encouragement. There are some things he just learns more slowly.

    Posted by Tina October 26, 09 11:05 AM
  1. Ah, but yet when it comes to dressing his Playmobil pirates and setting up a complicated track design on the train table, he doesn't need my help, because these are things that he wants to do. Support and encouragement from me are not all that is required for my children to succeed - they need to try their best as well.

    Posted by RH October 26, 09 11:34 AM
  1. I'd like to address the issue of lying in a 6-year old. In my experience as a mother of 3 and grandmother of 9, 6-year-olds lie like rugs. They just seem to say whatever is going to get them out of trouble without the least bit of guilt. My strategy for dealing with that is first, not to put them in a position where they will lie - if the lamp is on the floor and they're the only ones in the room, don't ask if they knocked the lamp over. And, when catching them in a lie, help them save face a little, by saying, "I think you meant to say that you knocked the lamp over, didn't you?" If you press them in a punitive way, they just reiterate the lie. After they admit the lie, you can say, "You know I always expect you to tell the truth because people in our family are very honest people" or some such.

    Posted by Sandy October 26, 09 01:21 PM

  1. RH, with all due respect, since parenting is the hardest job in the world, are you LETTING him continue to "Apply this same attitude towards zippering jackets, opening cheese sticks and straws for juice boxes, pedaling a bicycle, looking up at me when he doesn't know a word he's reading instead of looking at the word to sound it out..." at 6 years old? If you're leaving him the opportunity to do these things and he physically can't do it, not after the first second of an attempt, but after weeks of practice, that may in fact lead to frustration on both yoaurts, but is ;necessary to learn any new skill, then kudos to you for trying and maybe Tina is right, he needs some furhter motor skill attention. But, if he's looking to you for these things and you are simply doing them for him without giving him the opportunity to work them out for himself, then maybe he has learned his, what you call laziness, from you mom. The examples you have given seem to all be appropriate tasks and skills that a 6 year old should be learning, so maybe the laziness is on your part in not wanting to deal iwth the time and inevitable frustration that will result in giving him the space, encouragement and confidence to master these tasks himself, not in ten seconds but over the appropriate amount of time it would take any 6 year old to learn these things. Too many parents these days are in too much of a hurry to get to the next thing, or get through the current task to let their children learn properly how to do these things for themselves.

    Try giving him the chance to try it, and the chance to fail. This is the only way any of us learn, child or adult, an the only way we avoid falling into the "lazy" trap.


    Posted by Stacy Buckley October 26, 09 01:27 PM
  1. LAZINESS - 6 year olds do depend on structure & limit setting from mom &/or dad. 6 year olds are not lazy by virtue of their development. Sounds like he's tired! Also are you doing things for him because its "easier"? Don't ever do this....when he's a preteen or older he'll take advantage but not now! He's only 6.

    FUSSY EATER - do you "like" or "not like" things? Do you ask him if he "likes something" or do you tell him or others around you "he does not like that"? LIKE is something that adults impose on children. In general kids like almost everything that their parents "like" and if they don't like it now when they're teens or adults they will likely "like" these items! Give him a healthy, well rounded diet of items that he "likes" & then expand here & there. Never force. Put food on the table and don't comment on it, just ask "how much would you like" instead of "do you want....". Let him see mom, dad, friends & relatives eating patterns. Telling him to eat will never work. Choices are great at a restaurant but not at home or when visiting; this is one of those things that's simply not an option. When he's hungry he'll eat.

    ANGRY FOR SILLY REASONS - is your son looking for your attention & quite possibly the only way he can get it is by "getting angry for silly reasons"? Does he get "angry" for others or just for mom? This is negative attention. Stop responding to these displays and by all means never call it "anger". Just tell him to stop the specific behavior you're seeing as "angry". Specifically address the behavior and tell him that if the behavior does not stop by the time you count to 3 that he'll be on a time out for 6 minutes (use a minute for every year of age). When he calms down ask him why he was "sad" or "upset". The word anger has a negative connotation.

    This 1, 2, 3 technique works, I used it with both of my kids probably until they were in their early teens. Sometimes I may laugh to myself because they are so cute when they're pushing the envelope or being "fresh" but it does work and eventually when you get to "1" the behavior will stop! Always address specific behavior, never tell the child "you" are bad - instead say "this yelling is unacceptable and stop, if you don't stop by the time I count to 3 then you'll be on time out". Then without saying anything else, tell him to go to his room and if he does not then he'll be on 2 time outs. Sounds like a silly technique but it really works.

    Also, with lying, let him know that if he tells the truth he'll only get in "xx" trouble (ie a little bit) but if he does not (again don't use the word "lie") tell the truth that "xx" trouble will then be "xxxxxxxxx" trouble and the punishment will go from a small punishment to a large punishment and "mommy knows that you'd rather be in a little trouble instead of alot of trouble".

    GOING TO BED LATE AT NIGHT - put him to bed at the same time every night (this does take effort on your part but it is well worth it) and let him know what time that is, let him see the clock, he's old enough to be taught but definately not old enough to do it himself. My kids still need reminders in their late teens to go to bed or they'd be up all night!

    WAKING UP LATE - wake him up at the same time every school day and on weekends he'll wake up earlier. If not make some subtle noise so he wakes up. This may mean that you'll be up earlier too but again well worth it. When he's a teen then you'll get your sleep! I promise behaviors will improve with this routine.

    LIES - use the 1, 2, 3 method. If he does not tell the truth then he receives a time out. Never tell him he's a liar or tell him that he's lying because then it is the expectation. Never let him know that you anticipate that he's lying. Lay low & see if you can figure out if he's lying or not without letting him know - unless of course it is a safety issue (ie lighting matches, running across the street, etc.). Tell a child (or any person) he is something negative or that you expect negative behavior and I guarantee that he will turn into that "something".

    On the other hand tell him that you have high expectations, that you know that he's a good boy, that you know how smart he is, that he's such a good student, eater, reader, etc. He will want to live up to your expectations. This is a proven fact.

    MOM'S CARE & LOVE - this is something he's responding to so continue to provide this. In a few years you'll be lucky if you get a peck on the cheek or a quick "love you mom"! My kids are older teens and I let them know that this is OK, kisses, hugs and I love yous are always available from mom or dad! Never stop this!

    DAD'S ROLE - what a lucky son & dad and how lucky for you! Now you have to step back and see what it is that dad does that your son is responding to. Maybe he's calmer, maybe he does not spend as much time directly with your son. Whatever it is you have to learn from it and come up with your own techniques. Boys are wonderful and are a special gift to their moms. Relationships between moms and their sons are priceless. Tell your son he's "mommy's big boy", he may say stop it but deep inside he'll love it!

    Sounds like he's probably just a normal little boy needing some structure, limit setting & continued love from mom & dad. Also remember that teachers often "label" children especially boys. Studies have been done about this and boys that are developmentally normal or bored in class or picky eaters or fresh at times or curious or who "push the envelope" or who want to play instead of sit are NORMAL. Do not ever let yourself or your child fall into this trap. Boys have boundless energy and need to expend it. Remember that all kids develop differently. With structure & limit setting this is held in check.

    Good luck, I certainly miss my kids at such a great age! :)

    Posted by mom w/ 2 successful teens October 26, 09 01:29 PM
  1. RH, I'm with you. Kids can be lazy, and they can just not care enough to put forth effort, and it has nothing to do with ability.

    My 7 year old is perfectly capable of making his bed. I've seen him do it in 3 seconds if I make it clear that I will not call his friend's mom for a playdate unless he does. But other days, if he doesn't feel like it, it's sooooooo hard. It's tooooo messy. He caaaaan't do it. And so on.

    My 9 year old can make his own omelettes, build 3-D paper models of almost anything, and has been drawing with perspective since age 5. But he refuses to write neatly. Some of it is a learning disability related to spelling and reading, and he gets help for those. But a lot of it is he just doesn't care about schoolwork, and acts out by writing as sloppily as possible. So I let him take the consequences - he often has to do work twice, because it was so messy the first time his teacher (love this woman) sends it back to redo. He has eventually started to get the idea that messy work just generates more work, and being lazy doesn't pay.

    It is absolutely ok to call kids on their laziness, and parents who are with their kids, day in and day out, have a pretty good handle most of the time on what they can and can't do by themselves. Some kids would cheerfully let you wipe their behinds until college if you didn't call them on their laziness and make them fend for themselves.

    Posted by BMS October 26, 09 02:25 PM
  1. BMS I agree with you 100%. My oldest son has no work ethic at all, doing only the bare minimum of what he needs to do to get by unless it's something that he is interested in or benefits him directly. He is 11 now but this was a pretty clear personality trait early on. My younger sons are enthusiastic and willing helpers (and take pride in their work) but he simply isn't built the same way, so we live with it and impose consequences, rewards etc. but boy does it take work.

    To the LW, a lot of what you wrote resonates with me in that you son sounds like my oldest did at that age. He has always been one to fall asleep late and get up late, seems disproportionately angry, lies about the stupidest things, etc. He was diagnosed with AD/HD - primarily inattentive at age 8 and has some learning disabilities related to reading and writing. While we haven't used medication (yet) nutritional supplements and careful attention to diet continue to make a real difference for him and our family. The cornerstone of his nutritional supplementation has been a combination of essential fats (fish oil) along with something for adrenal support. Our diet is far from perfect but is mostly whole, fresh foods with lots of protein and whole grains and minimal amounts of processed foods, sugars, white flour, etc. Additionally, he plays hockey, which provides 4-5 hours of intense physical activity a week and he gets outdoors nearly every day, even in winter - walking to school, biking around the neighborhood, playing with friends etc. When all of these factors are working in synch, he is a much more relaxed, pleasant and helpful child.

    Posted by Jen October 26, 09 04:30 PM
  1. I knew someone who thought her kid was lazy his whole life - from the time the kid was 3 yrs old to adult. Come to find out recently, he was diagnosed with always having spinal bifida (not sure of spelling) - talk about the Mom and Child felt guilty all their lives untill recently. My advice is get the child a thorough check-up; which could reveal a "mild case" or "severe case" of an underlying physical problem that may not be clearly seen.

    Posted by Sybil October 26, 09 04:35 PM
  1. I just think it's reaaaallly interesting that so many people don't think kids can be lazy - that it's always the Mom that's doing something wrong. I happen to think I'm doing everything right that I can to combat this issue in our family: patience, love, time, and acceptance of failures with encouragement to keep trying.

    I'm L A Z Y about exercising. I hate to do it! Hate it! It doesn't make me feel good, I feel like there are other ways I could be spending my time that are more enjoyable to me - shopping, cooking, drinking coffee with a friend. But I have to do it. I have to face the thing I don't like to do, the thing that's hard for me, because somewhere along the line I realized that it's in my best interest to do it, whether I like it or not.

    So if it's not in the nature of a six year old to be lazy about things that are either difficult to master or are not enjoyable in general...when does this personality trait kick in? That's what I'd like to know. And who can I blame for my laziness towards this particular necessary evil? Can I blame my Mom? I don't think so. It's just part of who I am. But I can say that it was indeed my Mom who taught me how to work past my reluctance towards the things I don't like to do. And that's what I'm trying to do for my own kids. But to suggest that they don't have this inate human trait? Really silly.

    Posted by RH October 26, 09 05:55 PM
  1. Amen, RH.
    Given the choice between doing laundry and reading a murder mystery, I would cheerfully choose to sit on my behind with Agatha Christie. But being an adult, I have had to learn that laziness has consequences (like going naked to work). I didn't suddenly figure this out in a flash at age 18 - I had to learn this gradually over the course of my life. So when I was a grade schooler, if I was too lazy to put away my legos, then they might get vaccumed up by mom. If I was too lazy to organize my things in high school, I wasted time looking for missing assignments. If I didn't clean my dishes promptly in my college dorm room, I got mice scampering across my floor. But parents nowadays have bought into this idea that their children should never suffer from even momentary inconvenience, discomfort, or irritation. Unfortunately, you have to irritate the oyster to get a pearl.

    Posted by BMS October 28, 09 09:11 AM
  1. Kids can be hugely lazy! I truly believe everyone is born with a personality--you can see it in babies as young as six months old--and while behavior can be taught, you won't ever truly change a person. So if your child is lazy about things that require effort, you can work very hard to train them to be less so, but this will probably be a trait he or she will carry with them throughout life.

    Posted by mother of two October 28, 09 11:12 AM
  1. That will require very long time to master essay writing skills. But sometimes, some persons are lack of time. If you really are willing to save your time and get the good quality essays writers paper, you should opt for the professional writing service and order custom essay right there. After that, your university success is gained.

    Posted by Wy31Nici January 20, 10 02:42 PM
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Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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