Dealing with Lack of Motivation & Laziness

I had to sit down with my 9-year-old son today and re-set expectations. For the last month, he’s been progressively slacking in his schoolwork, in his motivation to do schoolwork, and in his attitude.

I accept part of the responsibility in that I allowed him to slack off for a while when I was crazy busy with work. But the bottom line is that if he expects to move on to the next level of school, responsibilities, and ultimately – privileges, he needs to make some decisions. ‘Cuz, frankly his attitude and work this week is not acceptable in the real world, and certainly not here.

It’s not necessarily a fun decision to make – to sit my child down and tell him that some changes are needed. But I’ve had to do it on more than one occasion both with him and with his older sister. And I’m sure at some point I’ll need to do it with the youngers as well.

My approach though at this point though is to stop with the nagging, pulling along, and basically set him down as I would with an employee or as a mentor or coach. I told him that I know he is bored and doesn’t want to do it right now, but I also explained that everyone – including his daddy and I – have to do things that we don’t want to do because they need to be done.

The trick is to decide if we are going to drag them out and make them last and last and get in trouble because of it (yes, mommies and daddies get in trouble too – just in different ways). Or, are we going to learn to do them quickly and well so that then we can get on with the things we really want to do.  My son and I talked about what happens if you do something quickly but not well – you have to do it again and it takes even longer.

We also talked about responsibilities and privileges. And how if I can’t trust him to do the things that need to get done, how on earth was I going to be able to trust him to be responsible enough for the extra privileges he wants to do/have.

I offered up a solution for him to consider, one that works for my 11-year-old. I asked him to think about if he wants to try that or if he wants to come up with his solution of his own.

But the bottom line is, as he walked away was he controls how we interact on this issue both now and all through his life. I can’t make him improve his motivation and force him to do his schoolwork well. But I can make his (and my life) more difficult. But that’s not the relationship I want to have with my son and not the reason why we homeschool.

He needs to step up and decide how he wants to be treated and how he wants to deal with the more mundane responsibilities of life. 

Tomorrow we’ll meet again. He’ll make his choice and we’ll see how things work out. I’m sure that they will and I’m sure that over time we’ll have this conversation again. But for now, I’ve planted seeds and pray that they will grow. Because, I sure want to be able to give him the privileges and see him soar in the areas he is interested in and loves. But he also needs to live up to his responsibilities as well.

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