Has anyone got tips for motivating a lazy child ?

Every time he misbehaves give to charity an item of his he cherishes. Start with the most valuable (to him) item. Do not replace it. Ever. (He can replace it on his own, if he decides to and is able to afford it.) Revoke his privileges (aka ground him). Restore them at your discretion, one at a time, but not on a specific time schedule (i.e. not one per week). If he trips up, revoke all his earned privileges and start over.

The initial learning curve is steep, but the long-term effect is incredibly effective.

And no, it’s not harsh. It’s parenting.

Wow I am glad I am not Bone’s kid. That sounds like child abuse to me! And buddafuco’s ideas don’t sound much better. I don’t think you want your kid to grow up resenting all charity organizations.

Kids really aren’t all that hard to punish. “Sit there, on that wooden uncomfortable chair for 15 minutes.” The chair, is of course, in a room with no TV, or books, or anything remotely entertaining. I promise you, this will feel like an ETERNITY to your kid.

Taking away privileges and then having your son do work above and beyond cleaning up his own mess is also a good idea.

Finally, never ever clean up after him. Yes, it will probably be MORE of a hassle for you to get him to do it than it would to just do it yourself but this is where you have to be a parent and not take the easy way out. If he learns that he will have to clean it up eventually anyway, plus some additional punishment, he loses any incentive he had to make the mess in the first place.

You can send him to Maury’s Boot Camp.

I’m not a parent either, but I have to point out that those of us that say stuff like “My mom would have whipped my butt and then made me do it anyway” aren’t actually all that traumatized or upset about it, and I’d have to say that we make pretty well-adjusted adults, too. My brother was exactly like this until he went into private school, where if for example he didn’t do his homework he was humiliated in front of his entire “house” and then not allowed to GO HOME until he finished it - after school of course! Let me tell you, he did just fine in private school (after a bit of a rough start, of course.) I think that consistency and yes, punishment are both important factors here.
I think a good way to decide when administering physical punishment (i.e. spanking or my mothers favorite, “the wooden spoon”) is appropriate is to ask yourself if you are going to enjoy it. If not, go ahead! If so, wait until you have a cooler head. Then you never have to regret it.

heh. cautionary note on the wooden spoon. I was a hellion, the wooden spoon was neither spared, nor pleasant, I kicked and screamed, but I also knew that it was the consequence.

Most of the time, it was a consequence I could live with.

No books, now THAT would have killed me.

Pick your fights. Don’t make everything a conflict. But communicate clearly on the three or four things that **need **to change.

Remember, he is 11. He just isn’t going to see things the same way you do. He will be dirt-blind. He will have selective memory. He will get distracted. He will disappear into his own imaginitive world. Some of this is age related and things he will grow out of. Some is his response/reaction to things happening in his world. The symptoms you see are not likely to match what he thinks is important. You will need to be a coach. Which means in some cases patient repetition.

Reinforce action/consequence associations. Or in this case inaction/consequence. I would avoid anything too extreme. But simple statements like “You can do whatever it is that he wants to do when you have done the three or four things that you have chosen to focus upon.” He is then in contro of things that directly affect himl. He can make choices. And for him, the logical and easiest choice is to do the things that are required of him. The motivation factors suitable for him are built into the situation. Low stress for you. It’s a good phrase that: You can do ___ when you have done ___

This is going to sound odd. But food is a big motivator. In the bible it says, “If any man does not work, he shall not eat.” (2Thess 3:10) An age-appropriate application of this might be, “You can sit at the table when you have put away your toys and put out the trash.” If you are going to do this, it is very important to tell him 15 minutes or so before dinner is served. Once he gets the idea, it is much more pleasant to say, “Dinner in 15 minutes” than to run a late afternoon nag list of things he hasn’t done.

I’m sorry if this was already said, but I got almost the same way during my teen years. I was suffering from depression and stuff. But my parents tried the awards program for good behavior. You award your son so many points for each “good” thing he does. Then, by the end of the week, if he has collected enough of these points, you take him out, take him out for a fun activity. I think you should allow him to decide. This worked for me, but my parents stopped when I told them I didn’t care anymore. I really did though. I was just angry that time I told them. Just a suggestion.

Ask Baggins111; his parents did a hell of a job with instilling habits of good oral hygiene. Maybe you can apply their technique.


We really don’t know enough about this particular child to know what is best for him. But their are general rules of discipline and adolescent training that make sense for just about every kid.

  1. Someone mentioned consistency. Nothing is ever going to get the job done unless you are consistent in whatever disciplinary measures you decide on. He should know what the consequences of his actions (or non-actions) will be and they should be swift and relentless.

  2. Even Sven has a lot of insight about control and j66 has some good solutions. I agree that the boy’s room should be his territory and under his control. Close the door if you can’t stand looking at it. Let it be a place of creative expression of his own choosing – or, more likely, total grub.

  3. Don’t give away his treasures. They are not yours to give. But don’t give him any money or more treasures until he is cooperating.

  4. When you have a pow wow with him, do a lot of listening. No matter what he has to say, listen to all of it without interrupting. Take notes. It will serve more than one purpose. It will let him know that what he said is important enough to be remembered. And it will also make him think twice before he spouts off total nonsense. It will serve as a reminder to you about what is going on with him. Finally, you can ask the same of him – that he listen without interrupting and take notes.

  5. If the laziness aspect continues and he shows laziness in general – including about getting out with his friends and playing – you might want to have him checked by a doctor. Some laziness goes with the territory. Some laziness (often coupled with guilt) can be a sign of teenage depression.

  1. Not necessarily. Some do and some don’t. Some kids, especially those lacking in self-esteem, tend to internalize what is happening in terms of physical punishment. Also, some parents can’t control their anger or don’t know when to draw the line. And if you feel that you absolutely must use physical discipline, do it with your hand and not with another object.

I know this is not a debate, but I would like to pick a small nit with you Zoe. I agree with everything you said except #3. My point from earlier is that you have to teach him that this kind of behavior is not acceptable in the real world. In the end, he will not continue to dirty your house for very many more years no matter what happens. The goal is to raise a man who you can be proud of after he has left you. That means teaching him what is and what is not his, and the kinds of behaviors he has to practice to keep them.

I am not an advocate of giving away his things as a first step. I would recomend packing them up into the attic for a couple months. Taking more and more away until his behavior improves. If you start with something he really likes, BTW, you won’t have to take much else. Then allow him to earn these things back over time. But only if he can pass that time with 0 (or very very few) infractions.

The point is that he does not in fact own any of the things that are “his”. Your job as a parent is to teach him how to aquire the things he wants. You don’t want him learning from the police that he can’t simply take things because he is too lazy to earn it the right way.
Think about it this way. Eventually the world is going to impose its rule on him. If he keeps filthy habits, he will live in filth. He will not be able to keep anything nice, or for long. You cannot protect him from this. Its just the way the world works. You can, however, give him the opportunity to learn better habits before he has to practice them for real. That is, you can take away everything he treasures without taking away the real necessities (like food and shelter).

IMHO that is the purpose of childhood. To learn the way to behave as an adult before you have to do it “for real”.

Oh, and when you get them, can you pass them on to me…three teenage sons, all terrific and terribly smart, but take sloth to a new dimension.

Thanks. :smiley:

Have you tried beatings?

Seriously, I have a 13 yr old girl who knows that I’ll stay on her until it gets done whatever the thing is that she must do. She knows only grief will follow if she doesn’t clean up like she has been told to do.

Bribery never works. Removal of priveledges works only if you stick to your guns and not let things slide. Its easier to correct little things quickly then to wait and try to clean up real big messes.

I can be a pain in the A$$ for her or a sweetheart. Its up to her which one she chooses. She’s a good and consciencious kid now and sometimes even hold’s me accountable when I’m slacking off. :slight_smile:

Maybe he’s depressed. Talk to him. See how he feels. 11 year olds can get depressed. Depression can hit you at any age.

Wow, there are some tough parents on these boards! I never had anything so rigorous from my parents, but then, I think I was generally a good kid.
I’m nowhere near being a parent myself, but I am a kindergarten teacher, so I muse on these topics of child behaviour and parent reaction to it quite a lot.
The person I most agree with here is ** even sven **. Sometimes kids need some personal space- and your room can seem like a refuge from the world outside, which can be a pretty confusing place sometimes. Having a parent constantly keeping an eye on you in that private space can feel like a violation, no matter how good their relationship with you.

My parents main parenting method was based on trust. They trusted me to be a good kid, and in return they gave me a certain amount of space. It’s amazing how well behaved most decent kids will be with that burden of trust on them, IMO.
For example, my room was always my concern. If the bed didn’t get made by me, it wasn’t made, full stop. That was just fine with me, because having a made bed wasn’t a priority for me. My mum felt differently, and let me know that, but never MADE me do it. And now- I make my bed every day, without fail. It’s one of those little things of household management that are important to adults, which kids completely fail to see the point of.