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Help! My 10-year-old Son Is Lazy!

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Why do I have a lazy son? Well, that sounds like the easy part. What is more compelling, is getting the child to change, now, there’s psychology. First of all, quit calling/seeing him as lazy. This is important. Stop labeling. There is a ton of research which shows how that process actually makes the child become what you believe they are. A ten year old is just doing what he has been set up to do. There is no discipline. He is responding as any ten year old would because they basically are hedonistic. They do or don’t do what they feellike. He won’t create discipline on his own. They aren’t built that way. That means he has to have it structured for him. That means YOU! You as the parent have to set up a program that allows him to sequence in a pattern until it becomes his routine. The repetition eventually becomes so ingrained, it feels weird to not do it. There becomes a comfort in following the pattern even though it seems like a hassle on the outside. The trick is…how do you get him to buy in? You don’t make him with a harangue.

That is YOU having the locus of power and control. You are imposing it on him and having to police as well as force it at frustrating levels for both of you. Too much work for you and scheming for him. Children have got both time and energy on their side. You will likely produce an oppositional/defiant child, not a disciplined one. The more you scold, the more they fail. So how do you off-load the responsibility to a child? You capitalize on their need for structure and routine. They don’t know this of course because all they are doing is what they feel like. But their feelings are needing the security of the known, not the random so you help them set it up. All of us like a certain lifestyle. When that lifestyle is lowered, we don’t like it, so immediately work to return it to its prior comfort level. Same with your son. He has things he loves to do which are comforting/ entertaining for him. Like going to bed at a certain time, not being gotten up when he didn’t need to, maybe privacy in their own room etc. So now the second thing you do is make a list of the behaviors, not attitudes you want in place. Twelve to fifteen at most.

Things like: talk, don’t yell, put things away, getup on time, brush teeth, flush the toilet, clear up after eating, come in when supposed to, use game and screen time as scheduled, pay attention when I speak to you and so on. You don’t write down; keep room clean, be happy, or make daddy proud. These are generic and may not give the call to action you require. However, they will drop in automatically when the system is operational. In six weeks you can get behavior changes. In six months you will get attitude changes. The items are listed on a paper and posted in a prominent spot, usually refrigerators. Next you set up a consequence chart. This is different from the “reward charts” that most parents are accustomed to. With a reward chart, a sticker is utilized as the payoff (or, a sticker is used as a way to mark progress toward some type of goodie, like a new toy or privilege). That means the child is the empowered one and s/he can easily decide at any time that s/he is no longer interested in the reward, no matter how enticing it may be. Saturation leads to inflation. You have to make larger rewards to motivate them in the future.

They are the ones in charge and the parent gave it to them. In contrast, a consequence chart is used to keep a track of how a child is losing normal, everyday privileges (lifestyle; like being with friends, having screen time with TV or video games, playing with toys, getting out of their room and not going to bed early). It’s a visual-aid which helps the child understand what their own choices have done to them that day. It also helps with things like the passage of time, both forecasting or predicting what will happen as well as remembering something which already occured and it gets connected to what is happening now. It’s a memory aid.



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