Avoid Lazy kids

How to Handle Lazy Kids – 11 Ways to Motivate Kids

Do you have a lazy child? Are you baffled at how to handle lazy kids? Here’s how you can end laziness, motivate your kids, and raise hard-working human beings.

Have you ever thought “my child is lazy and unmotivated”? 

My youngest daughter is lazy. She demands that her sister clean up all the toys they play with together. She insists that a grown up fill up her water cup, even though she is perfectly capable. And she expects to be waited on hand and foot. It’s so annoying. 

She wasn’t born that way. We made her that way. I attribute it to a number of things, one big factor being that her big sister is super motivated and does everything for her because she wants to. But I digress. Here we are, with a lazy kid. 

If you’ve noticed that you have a lazy kid too, you’re probably wondering what to do about it. Well, we’ve been working on it in our house, and we’re seeing great improvements.

What is Lazy Child Syndrome?

Lazy child syndrome is when a kid believes the world revolves around them. They expect people to do tasks for them, because they are special. Oftentimes (but not always) lazy kids live a life of privilege. 

Signs of a Lazy Child

  • A strong sense of entitlement
  • Inflated self-worth
  • Lack of experience with consequences
  • Parents who cater to their needs

What causes lazy kids?

In general, lazy kids are created when parents and other family members enable their needy demanding behavior. 

However, I would be remiss if I did not mention that it’s possible that a medical condition or familial circumstances can contribute to childhood laziness.

A study conducted by Queensland University of Technology in Australia evaluated 20 children who were labeled as lazy by their parents and teachers. The study revealed that 17 of the 20 children suffered from a range of learning difficulties and significant problems with attention​.

Some of the conditions that can contribute to laziness include:

  • Learning disabilities
  • ADHD
  • Sleep issues
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Parent / child relationship issues
  • Abuse
  • Stress
  • Substance abuse

Before making adjustments in your home to end lazy behavior, it’s a good idea to evaluate if any of these underlying conditions could be contributing to the behavior.

How to not raise a lazy child

So what can you do to raise motivated kids? Here are great ways to keep kids active and motivated.

Offer Challenges

Push your child’s limits. Give them tasks you know will be challenging for them. If you know they can hike a mile, set a goal to hike a mile and a half. If you know they can put together a 300 piece puzzle, give them a 500 piece puzzle to work on. Keep pushing the limits of what you know they are capable of. The feeling of successfully completing a challenge is extremely motivating for kids. 

Foster Intrinsic Motivation

Kids who are motivated by internal drivers are more successful. Instead of saying “I am so proud of you!” when they complete a challenge, say “You must be so proud of yourself!”. Intrinsically motivated people tend to have a growth mindset and regularly achieve challenging goals.

Set a Good Example

Children emulate adults. It’s sometimes hard to admit, but when you look at your child it’s often like looking in a mirror. If you model active, challenge-seeking behavior, your child will follow in your footsteps. 

Set Expectations

While your kids are living under your roof you should set expectations that keep them active and responsible. Have regular conversations about your expectations (i.e. “I expect your room to be tidy before bed every night”)

Teach Self-Sufficiency

ONce you set expectations for your kids, give them the tools and strategies to meet your expectations. Offer training on completing tasks, help them master skills you expect them to complete on their own, and set up an accountability system. 

Strictly Limit Screen Time

Screens are the enemy. They create lazy kids. The shows, games, and apps your kids are using are specifically designed to suck people in. They want kids to mindlessly scroll and click for hours on end, because it makes them more money. Avoid this trap by setting strict screen time limits for your family. We love Bark to make limiting screen time easy!


Welcome Boredom

Boredom is a good thing. It encourages kids to be creative, think outside the box, and get active. It can offer opportunities for deeper thought and internal reflection. And it strengthens problem solving skills and improves confidence. Boredom can positively impact mental health and leads to happier childhoods. And it makes kids find ways to entertain themselves.

Encourage a Helper Mentality 

All kids want to help. Every toddler wants to participate in laundry day and help wash dishes in the sink. Tap into this helper mentality and give them jobs. If you encourage the helper in them, offer intrinsic motivation, and help them feel like a valued part of the family, that helper mentality will grow! Eventually they will start seeking out bigger and better ways to help the people around them.

Make Family Contributions a Requirement

Even the littlest kids can pair socks or fold washcloths. Offer kids a sense of belonging and community as young as possible by including them in family chores or contributions. Kids who grow up participating in family chores tend to be better contributors to their communities. 

Practice “Lazy” Parenting

If you don’t want lazy kids, you should practice lazy parenting. That is, if your kids can do tasks for themselves, you should refuse to do it for them. This is hard for a lot of parents because they want to help their kids. For some people, acts of service are how they show love. But if you jump every time your child wants a bowl of pretzels or help putting on their shoes, you’re creating lazy kids (like I did).

Send Kids Outside

Outdoor play does wonders for a kid’s imagination. Kids who get outside are more active than those who stay indoors. Have a family goal to get outside every day for at least 15 minutes, rain or shine. I bet you’ll notice a difference in less than a week!

How to Motivate a Lazy Child to Study

One of the most common complaints from parents is that their children are lazy with their school work. Here’s what you can do to motivate kids to do well in school.

  • Communicate openly with your child to understand the underlying cause of the lack of motivation
  • Enroll in courses that are interesting to your child. 
  • Create a workspace that helps your child work.
  • Create an organizational system that makes sense to your child. Disorganization can be a significant contributor to poor academic performance.
  • Focus on learning and understanding instead of grades.
  • Create a study plan.
  • Set small goals together with your child (if they have input they are more likely to buy-in).
  • Try different learning techniques (is your child a visual learner? Auditory learner? Kinesthetic learner?)

How to Motivate a Lazy Child in Sports

  • Make sure your child is participating in sports that interest them.
  • Make sure kids have adequate equipment to succeed in their sport.
  • Set goals with your child (their input is crucial).
  • Show up. When parents are at practices and games, children are more motivated to excel.
  • Offer opportunities for extra practice.
  • Encourage intrinsic motivation.
  • Frame mistakes and losses as opportunities for improvement.


Lazy kids are made, not born. However, some conditions can contribute to laziness. Discourage laziness with the parenting strategies we’ve covered here, including how to motivate lazy kids in school and sports!

What You Should Do Next…

1. Snag Our Connected Parent Challenge

Are you ready for more activities to build a rock-solid bond with your kids? Try our Connected Parent Challenge! It’s 15 Days of 15 Minute activities that are sure to improve your connection, diminish bad behavior, and create lasting memories. Plus, I’ll deliver more amazing parenting strategies to your inbox weekly (don’t worry, unsubscribe any time!).

2. Join Our Free Online Community

Connect with like-minded moms (and dads!) in our free online community. You’ll find a plethora of resources to help you through your parenting challenges. Plus, you’ll find me there! And I’d love to connect.

3. Take a Free 60-Minute Parenting Webinar

Do you need actionable strategies right now? Register for this free 60-minute webinar titled How to Get Kids to Listen, Without Nagging, Yelling or Losing Control. You’ll walk away with parent-tested tactics to get your kids to listen starting today.

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