How to get your child to stop being lazy at school and with homework

Family

In the opinion of the clinical psychologist and educational psychologist Laura Cerdán, the lazy child is created. But fortunately, there is a vaccine, which can be administered at home by parents. This is how this expert explains it;: «From a very young age, children show interest in participating in the activities carried out by their parents at home. In fact, studies show that even babies as young as 18 months are capable of interacting with their parents while they perform routine household chores. Children, even at this early age, are capable of helping their parents without being asked, without being forced, and without being instructed in any way. That is, they are able to help

voluntarily in most household chores and some of them even show initiative by doing these chores.

This, Cerdán points out, also responds to the call “learning by imitation”, of which she has always considered herself a defender. “When children see how their parents perform a certain task, they imitate them and learn to do that task, if we allow them to practice. By practicing patiently, children are gradually able to learn to do certain tasks. We just have to allow them to do, practice and learn.

In his opinion, it is these types of tasks, at such an early age, that determine how parents are going to encourage children to collaborate at home, do their homework and assume certain responsibilities. “It is at home that children find their first educational environment and where they can first begin to practice their skills and abilities. If from a very young age, we encourage this, we will be preventing the child from manifesting later what is usually considered ‘laziness’».

Are there children with a tendency to that ‘vagrancy’ to which you refer?

Yes, the lazy child is the one who finds no motivation in practically any activity and who does not care about the consequences of this inaction either. It is that child who does not want to make an effort for anything, that everything supposes an extra effort, that does not find anything interesting and/or fun and that always ends up making excuses for not doing X.

But that lazy child… could it be due to a procrastinating or procrastinating character in childhood? Or is it rather a child who does not want to face the task because he has difficulties when it comes to doing it?

If a child tends to procrastinate or shows difficulty in completing tasks, the reason should be assessed. And the cause of this problem is not that he is a lazy child, but that some other problem is causing the child to see difficulties in doing a certain task. It could also be a low tolerance for frustration, it could be an excessive difficulty of the task itself with respect to the child’s maturational level, or that the child has a real difficulty in carrying out the activity that is asked of him. Or it could simply be that the value of doing these tasks was never instilled in him and now he is at an age where it is very difficult to work on the habit.

For example, asking a 4-year-old to prepare breakfast for himself is asking for a task for which he may not be maturationally ready. Asking a 7-year-old for the same task would be more realistic. Therefore, we must always adjust the activities to be carried out to the child’s maturational level.

Beyond these difficulties, self-concept and self-esteem play an important role in motivation to perform tasks. And here again, parents play a fundamental role. Sometimes it is the parents themselves who do not allow the child to do a specific activity because they do not see him capable, and that task ends up being carried out at home by the father or mother. In this way we are overprotecting and sending the child a message “I don’t see you capable of doing X, therefore, I don’t trust you to do it well”. And this is dangerous. Well, we can’t want to have autonomous and independent children either if we as adults don’t encourage that autonomy and that independence. Not working on these habits from a young age can cause them to be ‘lazy’ teenagers in the future.

At what age do families usually find themselves faced with the thought or doubt of having a lazy child at home?

Families often sound the alarm when they see that their children’s grades are bad or when they consider that their children are old enough to perform very basic tasks of personal hygiene or taking care of their things. That is, between the ages of 10 and 12 is when parents usually begin to consider this problem.

When the child starts to get bad grades and the parents believe that he does not study enough, they think that he is lazy. When they have to insist that you take a shower or brush your teeth up to five times every night, they think you’re lazy. When they could pick up their clothes and clean up their room but don’t, they think they’re lazy.

No one considers that a 4 year old is lazy. Even as I said before, we think that at these ages they should not do certain tasks because they are still small.

What is the first thing that should be done? Talk to the school? with a psychologist?

The first thing that should have been done is to lay the foundations for the acquisition of certain habits from a very young age, as I said before. But, if we are already late to that, it is necessary to work on it as soon as possible. One of the main problems is that sometimes we expect the child to self-motivate, learn to exert himself and find interest in things on his own. And indeed, there will be things that interest him and motivate him and he strives alone to achieve them, but doing housework or homework is usually not activities that interest children too much.

Therefore, a first step is to assess what we can do at home and what the child’s environment is like. For example, do you play any sports? Do you have a group of friends? What things interest you? Do you practice any extracurricular? The environment in which the child is immersed is also important. A child who does not practice any sport and spends many hours in front of the TV or playing video games is getting used to doing very little physical activity.

Regardless of what is worked on in extracurricular activities (English, judo, ballet…), they also serve to create a social circle outside of school friends with which leisure activities can be extended. This can help you find other interests and have more active leisure as you reach adolescence.

What can parents do at home?

Small routines can also be carried out from home that enhance the value of effort, tolerance of frustration, autonomy and independence. The best strategy is to create habits from an early age. If since the child is small, we assign him tasks to do at home, he will appreciate the effort involved these activities and we will be giving you the opportunity to feel part of the family group. Not to mention that we are working on their self-esteem.

For a habit to become such, one must insist, because it is no use for the child to set the table to eat from time to time, but we must assign that task to him and he must take care of it every day of the week. In this way we teach him responsibility and respect for others, as well as teaching him what it means to work in a group.

Since children’s concept of time is not the same as that of adults, each task can have a specific time to complete. For example, when we get home (immediately after entering the front door), we must put our shoes away. In this way the child understands that, when he gets home, he must take responsibility for his shoes.

On the other hand, the messages that we adults send when the minors carry out the tasks are very important. Continually correcting what the child has done, telling him that he has done it wrong and not teaching him how to do it better, will only frustrate and demotivate him. We must encourage and encourage him to improve and express how happy we are with how he collaborates at home, how he takes care of his things, or how he does his homework.

And, most importantly, it is necessary to lead by example. If we want a child to help at home, father and mother must collaborate in the home. We cannot demand from the child what we do not do because we are not giving an example to follow nor will we be in a position to demand what we do not give.

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