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Capable but lazy: what you should do when you child doesn’t want to do anything

11.04.2019 Author: Psychologist Pavel Khoroshutin

“My son is 11, and he is extremely lazy. He used to be such a normal, curious boy, he always wanted to learn and try something new, enjoyed going to school. However, about a year ago everything changed. He suddenly got tired of studying, stopped doing chores (to be fair, he was always lazy in that aspect), and what’s more important, he dropped all his favorite activities. He does not attend any clubs, stopped reading, the only things he is still interested in are computer and occasional games with friends. He barely cleans his room. My son managed to graduate from elementary, but now in middle school the level is different, and I’m worried he won’t be able to keep up. All teachers tell me that he is a smart and capable child, just lazy.

Of course, I try to do something with it, I make him do his homework, want him to join some sports club, offer various interesting activities. However, he doesn’t want to do anything, declines all offers, throwing tantrums even. He listens to no one, he even talks back to his father! We try to talk to him, to guide him, we even punish him, but all in vain.

I don’t know anymore where did my active boy go. What does the future bring to such a lazy child? Please, tell me, what should I do with a child who doesn’t want to learn anything?”

– Anna, mother of Artem, 11

Every parent dreams of having a diligent child with perfect grades, sport success and a creative hobby. However, life is often disappointing. A child often slacks on their duty to clean their room, let alone on achieving results in sports or studying.

That is why any parent asks themselves at least once: what should I do now that my child is so lazy? Some children just have lazy periods, while other seem to have been born indifferent to anything.

Childhood laziness has a lot of negative consequences. There are good news, however. This problem can be solved—and you should do this. Proper work on fostering diligence will definitely bear fruit. Let’s see why children become lazy and how we can get our children used to working for life.


  1. Why the child becomes lazy
  2. Accustoming children to labor: advice for parents
  3. Solution: 7Spsy behavior modification technique

We will teach your child to enjoy his/her studies

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Why the child becomes lazy

the child does not want to do anything

There are many reasons that can explain why a child doesn’t want to do anything. Sometimes the cause lies with the parents, and sometimes it stems from the circumstances that the grown-ups have no power over. Here are some of the reasons for childhood laziness:

  • incorrect parental behavior, over-protection or lack of attention;
  • child’s personality features;
  • loss of interest towards studying or other activities, boredom;
  • chronic exhaustion;
  • age-related crisis;
  • lack of motivation;
  • fear;
  • conflicts with teachers or peers;
  • mental and physical disorders.

Let’s look at them in more detail.

1. Over-protection

Over-protection comes from the extreme desire to protect a child. Parents do everything to shower their children with attention, protect them from any dangers, real or not. Over-protective parents “attach” children to themselves, fear letting them into the world and prefer to make decisions for their children. They decide which clubs their child should attend, when to do homework and which books to read. The child then has no need to decide, solve problems and overcome struggles. Their parents do all of this for them. There is no surprise that such children develop learned helplessness and then chronic laziness. [1] [5]

2. Lack of attention

Lack of control over a child is another extreme in upbringing. A child is left to their own devices, studying is left unattended, and what’s most important, there is no emotional interaction with parents. A child literally learns to survive alone in the whole world. However, a small person does not know how to set priorities properly, as those are parents who normally teach to do that, so children choose in favor of activities which are not sports or studies. Sometimes they even have no resources for meaningful activities in survival conditions. Finally, laziness can be an attempt to attract parent’s attention, because even negative emotional interaction with family is better than none whatsoever.

3. Personality features

Sometimes parents lack knowledge about their child’s psychology, and demand them to do things a child is unable to perform. For example, phlegmatic and melancholic children are not prone to engaging in vigorous activities, they need more time to complete tasks and switch between different activities. This is perfectly normal.

However, more active parents take such conduct as laziness and pressure their child to do more than their nerve system can handle. Which is why you need to make sure that such conduct is not a personality feature before labeling them as “lazy”..

4. Boredom, loss of interest

Children’s interests change, which is pretty normal. A small person wants to try as many things as they can so that they can figure out what to do in their life. When a child loses interest towards a certain sports activity, creative activity or school subjects, they can develop laziness instead. Also, the current subject in school might be boring, which can also prompt laziness. In such case, the best thing you can do is listen to your child and find out what they want to do next.

4. Chronic exhaustion

Your child used to be so active, they always got good grades, attended several clubs, did sports, helped around the house, played with their friends, read books, but then… They just suddenly lost the desire to do things, and laying on a sofa with their phone became their favorite activity. If the child does not want to do anything, they might simply be tired and exhausted, so you should reduce their load and even organize extra holidays.

Do not forget that in some cases laziness can be a natural self-defense mechanism, protecting us from overload and stress. It is true for both children and adults.

5.Age-related crisis

Psychologist L. S. Vygotskiy described several crises that are an inevitable part of growing up. Schoolchildren encounter seven-age crisis, crisis of adolescence at ages 11-15 and crisis of growing up at ages 15-17. [2]  

Crisis of adolescence is probably the hardest one, both for the child and for everyone else, especially their parents. Constant protests are a manifestation of it. For example, a child may protest against labor, studies, chores. You must survive this period, as it is needed to let the teenager become more independent, learn to take responsibility for their actions or inaction due to laziness.

lazy child

6. Lack of motivation

Sometimes a child does not want to do something simply because they don’t realize its importance. Why should they do homework on that boring subject? Why should they make a bed if they go to sleep in the evening anyway? Why should they tidy their room? In such case, parents should regularly and systematically explain to their child why certain things are necessary and what would be the consequences.

7. Fears

Children who were always the top of their group since the very young age may develop a “A+ student complex”. As the result, any new task may induce the following fear: “I will not make it”, “People will laugh at me”, “People will not like me”. Another fear may appear after experiencing failure. For example, if you child answered wrong in front of the class and was laughed at for that, the next time they might be afraid to answer at all. Such fears can quickly transform into laziness. It is the way our psyche protects itself from encountering something we fear.

8. Conflicts with teachers or peers

Unfortunately, this problem is more common than you might think. Bullying by peers and even teachers can make a child lose any desire to go to school at all. They may just look lazy, but in reality the problem is much more serious. However, not all children trust their parents enough to tell them about things that happen in their life. A child might even feel guilty about being bullied, they might be terrified of something or simply think that others will not believe them. Treating such conflicts starts by establishing contact with a child. They must know that they can tell their parents everything and receive their support, without blaming or neglect.

9. Mental and physical disorders

Unfortunately, depression can hit adults and children alike. It can have various causes, but it is important to understand that laziness and lack of desire to do anything are some of the first symptoms of this disorder. The same can be said about physical diseases. If you notice that your child lost interest in life, complains of apathy and unwillingness to perform even the activities they used to like, you should pay attention to their health.

Accustoming children to labor: advice for parents

how to teach children to work tips for parents

So, what should you do if your child is lazy?

First you should, of course, find out the cause. That will help you figure out the course of actions.

Working on motivation

If the cause is not chronic exhaustion, disease or personality features, start on raising their motivation. Our minds work in a way that any activity must fulfill certain needs. In case of children, those needs might include new knowledge, experiences, pleasure and parental attention. Another need is the desire to feel their own significance and “validity”. Do not forget to convey to your child the result of their completed actions. Help them in doing difficult tasks, so that they grow more confident in their abilities, and therefore learn to enjoy working. Of course, don’t forget to praise their success in studying and hobbies, and thank them for helping around the house. [3]

Fostering independence

Foster independence in your child, as it is one of the most important conditions for diligence. Make them responsible for their activities: for example, you don’t have to do their homework together if they don’t need help. After seeing that parents will not fix the consequences of laziness, a child will understand that it is much better to do the work properly. Let them learn from their mistakes.

An activity must never be a punishment

Sometimes parents punish their child for some misdeeds with doing certain chores. For example, they can task their child with peeling potatoes as a punishment for a bad grade or talking back. This is a big mistake. Never punish your child with chores or other tasks, as children will simply consider such activities to always be a punishment. There is no person in the world who likes to be punished all the time.

Set an example

And now, another important advice. Do not forget that children, especially younger ones, try to copy their parents. That is why you have to start from yourself, if you want to foster diligence in your children. [4]

Solution: 7Spsy behavior modification technique

What should you do if a child is lazy and nothing seems to work?

A good idea is to change their mode of behavior. This is what our 7Spsy behavior modification technique is about. It is a registered method of behavioral psychology, which helps to reveal mindsets that lead to chronic laziness, and change them to positive ones. New mindset will help you master and consolidate healthy behavior patterns.

We will teach your child to enjoy his/her studies

Make for consultation WATCH VIDEO

The course is designed to be taken remotely, lasts 2 to 6 weeks and starts from diagnostic testing. Throughout the whole course your child will be accompanied by a psychologist. They will answer all the questions and provide support in difficult situations. By using 7Spsy method you will forget about fighting your child’s laziness, and you child will become more diligent and achieve great things in life.


  1. Giperopeka  https://www.psychologos.ru/articles/view/giperopeka
  2. L. S. Vygotskij, Krizisy vozrastnogo razvitiya 
  3. Olga Yurchenko «Ne hochu i ne budu! Kak borotsya s detskoj lenyu?»
  4. Vladimir Manulenko «Kak pobedit detskuyu len»  https://www.ya-roditel.ru/parents/base/experts/kak-pobedit-detskuyu-len/
  5. Svetlana Sadovnikova «Gipoopeka: prichiny, proyavlenie i sposoby ustraneniya»  https://www.ya-roditel.ru/parents/base/experts/gipoopeka-prichiny-proyavlenie-i-sposoby-ustraneniya/