How Do You Motivate a Lazy Child?

how do you motivate a lazy child or young adult

Most parents will ask, how do you motivate a lazy child? You can expect this question when a parent struggles with a child whose activity level is not meeting their expectations. While several people may argue that laziness is a personality trait, others believe differently. Laziness in a child is influenced by the environment that they find themselves in and the motivational factors that are present. As a result, a child who may appear lazy in one environment may act completely differently in another setting.

So, how do you motivate a lazy Child or young adult? There are many ways you can help encourage your lazy child. The most important thing is to understand that your child’s behavior may not be laziness but a lack of structure, motivation, disinterest, or even just a different approach to work. It could also be your perception, as the way the older generation was raised is different from how young adults and children today think. For instance, the older generation may perceive busy work as hard work, while the youth may want to avoid all work and get straight to the results.

This post will discuss common reasons why a child may appear lazy and the best ways to resolve these problems.

How Do You Motivate A Lazy Child? 9 Effective Tips Follow:

How to motivate lazy children or young adult

Teach By Example

There are so many other ways to motivate a lazy child or young adult, but I would love to start by, saying, “Mom, Dad, Fix yourself!” While not judging anyone, parents who exhibit lazy habits should not be surprised when their children do the same. It would help if you taught your children by modeling those behaviors you want to see, as most psychologists will tell you.

According to Dr. Maria Montessori, a great childhood educator, children imprint and mirror what their parents do. This imitation of behavior does not just end with young children, adults will mirror the behaviors of parental figures, mentors, or individuals they look up to. They could also choose to reject these behaviors completely.

The important take-home here is, in knowing your kids will probably do what you teach them, make sure that you are teaching the positive behavior you want to see from them.

Help Structure Their Day

Having a daily structure is essential for both children and adults. Without structuring your day, you will be at the mercy of whatever comes along; and end up less productive. Structure helps you eliminate wasted time and boosts productivity. It is my personal belief that if you are asking, “how do you motivate a lazy child?” You should start here.

In helping your young adult or child, structure their day, you will get them to have expectations for what they should have accomplished in blocks of time. This means that if the day goes without them accomplishing anything, they will feel unproductive. This negative feeling is enough for some people to get on track to achieve more the next day.

In structuring the children’s day, you should have them start the day with a list of things to do, or what they want to see accomplished. They should review this list every night to see what they didn’t accomplish and what should be included in the next day’s list. Teach them to tweak the list to a point where they are getting most or everything in their list done by the end of the day.

Boost Their Confidence

Laziness in youth may come from having low self-confidence or poor self-image. When individuals lack self-worth, they tend not to want to do much. The reason is usually to avoid attention. Once you, as a parent, can understand this and help the child or young adult boost their confidence, you can help them accomplish more.

To help boost your child’s confidence, you can offer praise, avoid negative talk, not criticize them, and encourage good work.

Involve Them In Projects They Have an Interest In

how do you motivate a lazy child

In thinking, how do you motivate a lazy child? Most parents may miss the mark by forcing projects upon children and young adults in which they have no interest. Ask what your child likes to do or what are they interested in learning, and try to create projects for them around these tasks.

Asking, how do you motivate a lazy child? When faced with chores or other responsibilities that a child hates, they will not have much of an interest, making them appear lazy. But they may appear hardworking when given tasks they love, as they don’t need much motivation to do things that they are intrigued by. For instance, some people love to cook and will do so without needing much incentive from their parents. If asked to clean the bathroom, the same child may do a sloppy job or altogether avoid it.

Also, look for tasks that your child may be interested in doing. If you have more than one child, share tasks according to what each one prefers to do.

Structure Projects Into Doable Tasks

When tasks seem too big, children and adults can quickly become overwhelmed. Helping your child split extensive duties into smaller doable tasks will help them learn to complete projects by tackling one task at a time. With maturity, they will be able to learn to handle large tasks.

To teach structuring projects, enable the child to see the big picture, and then split up the tasks into little blocks that will get them to the completion of such a project. Every time they complete a block of tasks, they will be further along the way to completing the project as a whole.

Reward Their Efforts

There is a direct, positive correlation between action and rewards. This is the basic principle behind reinforcement learning, a machine learning technique, where a reward is used to achieve, certain results. Children respond positively to rewards, as a matter-of-fact, almost everyone, irrespective of age, does.

For instance, when you run a number of miles every day, and notice a positive impact on your waistline that can be directly interconnected with the effort you have put in, you are more likely to continue running. This is an effort-reward relationship. You can say the same for hours worked, paycheck amount; the amount of time put into studying and results on an examination, and the effort put into dog training resulting in a well-behaved pet.

The bottom line, when you do something and realize a benefit from it, you are more likely to repeat the behavior if you loved the benefit. Children and young adults may miss the effect of the benefit as this may be widespread and not a direct benefit to them. Such results are more common when the child or young adult lives at home.

By way of illustration, a child may wash their parent’s car, but the parent gets the benefit. This means that there is no incentive to continue washing the car, except maybe mum or day will be happy.

Using rewards as a motivation to complete tasks, and change the perception of laziness can be daunting as there are a few challenges here. Firstly, some individuals think that rewarding children for their behaviors are comparable to bribing the child.

Get Them Involved in Positive Peer Groups

If you are looking for how to motivate a lazy child or young adult, consider including them in peer groups. Children and young adults can make significant positive behavioral changes when they understand the goals for doing certain things—when working with peers such goals become apparent. Peer groups can open up children towards working for specific purposes, or working on goals that impact the lives of others.

In response to the question, how do you motivate a lazy child, the simple is, to use peer groups. The result of working in peer groups is that as work gets meaningful, most children will develop a purpose for work. This eliminates laziness. So, whether it be volunteer work like helping out at a soup kitchen, food bank, or animal shelter, a child that draws meaning from their efforts will feel needed, as their contribution counts.

Find out what positive peer groups exist in their colleges or community and get them started here.

Teach Long-Term Outcomes of Hard, Consistent Work

Ever heard the saying, “hard-work begets hard work?” It is pretty accurate. Most individuals that make an effort are rewarded by the outcomes of their hard work and are therefore encouraged to continue toiling, no matter how arduous the task is.

Use principles like the 30-Day Challenge to teach your child or young adult the benefits of consistent work. Once children begin to understand that their activity could lead to huge outcomes, they are more motivated to act.

Don’t Hesitate To Use Discipline


While the dictionary defines discipline as using punishment to correct disobedience, we simply mean that parents should create specific consequences to deter unwanted behavior. The use of consequence-based teaching has always been effective for kids that refuse to work with you.

For the most part, parents who want to learn, how do you motivate a lazy child, should consider discipline.

While we prefer those tips that encourage children to work with you, such as mentioned above, so children may be difficult, requiring parents to use more stringent measures. For instance, parents may take away the phone of the young adult or other electronics from children that choose to play games over other responsibilities.

This act may seem juvenile, but a threat to do so may encourage the child to act in the right manner. Once they complete assigned tasks, they can have their electronics back. Also, consequences could also mean that they have an extra task to do, for instance, taking out the trash, doing dishes, or doing the laundry; and not just losing privileges.


When asking how you motivate a lazy child, remember that young adults are not always lazy even if they appear to be. Understanding the reason for the behavior will help a parent in choosing how to approach this problem. Using the right strategies can get great results for you and your child.

Interested in other posts? See how do young adults socialize? And, What are young adults interested in?

Christopher Udeani and Christine Udeani, JD
Christopher Udeani and Christine Udeani, JD

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