Homeschooling the Lazy Child

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This post was originally published as the introduction to an issue of TheHomeSchoolMom newsletter. Sign up here and get access to subscriber exclusive resources.
Are you homeschooling a lazy child? Or perhaps you are homeschooling a careless child. Or a sloppy child. Or a thoughtless child. Or an ungrateful child. Or an irresponsible child. Frustrating, right?

Homeschooling the "Lazy" Child

So hard to have a child who is lazy, careless, sloppy, thoughtless, ungrateful, or irresponsible. Homeschooling is a drag with a child who will not try, does not give a good effort, makes a mess, doesn’t take responsibilities seriously, and doesn’t care a bit about the amount of effort you are putting into homeschooling.

If they would just stop being lazy, you could get through the school work and have time to do things they might even find more enjoyable.

What’s wrong with this picture?

By inwardly or outwardly labeling your child as “lazy,” you have assigned a negative moral quality to the child’s character.

That’s serious business. Are you sure you want to do that?

Now the kid has something to live down to. Not exactly the parental intent.

When you find yourself homeschooling a lazy child, chances are you may be victim of your own . . . lazy . . . thinking. (Doesn’t feel very good to be called lazy, does it?)

How to homeschool “lazy children” more effectively:

  • Reframe how you label them. Stop inwardly or outwardly calling your child lazy. It’s not constructive. It doesn’t get to the root of your child’s challenges. It’s name calling and verbally abusive. Is your “lazy” child more interested in their own thoughts than in assigned work? Is your child dreamy and in their own world? Is your child easily distracted by more exciting alternatives, like video games and YouTube? Is your child at peace with not striving for accomplishment every day? Use these words to accurately assess instead of labeling a child as lazy.
  • Reconsider your approach. Are you homeschooling in a way that is engaging for your child? Are you listening to their resistance signals and remixing your homeschool to be more interesting and customized for that child? Or are you “sticking to your guns,” trying to insist on an approach to homeschooling you are committed to but that is not working for your resistant child. Customize your homeschooling to meet your child’s needs!
  • Recalibrate your expectations. Are you expecting too much, too fast, and for too long? Parents often expect every child of theirs to be “above average” and “on grade level” and super interested in a sport, a musical instrument, an artistic pursuit, and scholastic achievement.

A negative label creates a negative expectation. Leave space for a child to find motivation in their own time around their own interests. Cultivate your own faith in your child, that they will want to do well in the world.

Understand that shaming, blaming, and describing poor character do not help children overcome challenges. Although shaming a “lazy” child may create short-term compliance in some children, you may find yourself paying a bigger price over time if your relationship deteriorates.

We don’t always think about our children precisely. It’s a shortcut to managing our own frustration with lack of progress when we offload the problem onto a “lazy” child, leaving ourselves less responsible for how things are going. If it happens from time to time, forgive yourself, apologize to your child, and continue to be conscious of reframing, reconsidering, and recalibrating.

If this is happening very often at your house, get help. Really. You may benefit from counseling or help with homeschooling. Your child may need assessment for depression or learning challenges.

This is a public service message on behalf of lazy kids who don’t cooperate with your version of homeschooling and family life. Dig deeper. They’re worth it!

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