Worried about the findings of a 2017 Stanford University study which revealed India to be among the laziest countries in the world? Here are some tips to drive away idleness from your child.
By Susan Philip
A Stanford University study conducted in 2017 revealed that India ranks 39 among 46 countries in the world when it comes to being lazy. As parents, isn't it your duty to ensure that you do not raise lazy children?
Well, no child is born lazy. Laziness is a habit. It generally sets in when your child is in the primary school stage. And, by the time your child becomes a teen, the ‘lazy’ stage is almost a rite of passage. But, as a parent, you need to remember that a lazy child will turn into a lazy adult. And, laziness brings with it a whole host of problems. On the one hand, it brings with it obesity and related health issues. On the other, it practically erases the ability, as an adult, to achieve positive results in any venture. And this brings with it its own problems. So, the best thing is to prevent your child from becoming lazy. If she has already acquired the trait, don’t be discouraged. Things can be set right with patience and sensitivity. For this, you need to first understand whether your child is actually lazy.
Have you labelled your child as lazy because his teachers complain that homework and class work are not being done properly? Find out the reason for your child’s behaviour. Make sure that there is no underlying physical or cognitive problem with your child. Talk to him to find out whether he finds it difficult to understand his lessons. Or, is his eyesight causing him problems? If so, schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist. Also, don’t hesitate to have your child screened for learning disabilities, if you think his performance and behaviour warrant it.
Maybe you call your child lazy because she refuses to put away her toys, go out and play, or complete the chores that you have given her. She, probably, prefers to spend all her time glued to the TV or a gadget. This could well be because the tasks that you have given her are too much for her age. Also, you may be setting standards that are too high for her to achieve, and she’s scared of disappointing you. You need to have a frank talk with your child and scale your expectations (and also your criticism) to levels that she can cope with.
Once you have ruled out physical, cognitive and other difficulties, you will be left with just one reason for your child not performing to his capacity - laziness.
Here are some tips to help your child get over it. Even if your little one is a bundle of energy and a cheerful ‘doer’ as of now, these tips will help you prevent him from developing the dreaded problem at a later stage.
1. Encourage physical activity – Laziness is often explained as a reluctance to exert oneself physically. Normally, infants are active along age-related parameters. This has to be encouraged, so that a child does not slip into a liking for inertia, and hesitate to get moving. Even if your child is not naturally prone to be up and about a lot, she can be encouraged to develop a liking for active exercise for short periods.
What you can do:
2. Take the bore out of the chore – Driving away boredom from routine tasks and allocating responsibilities will surely help your child stay active. Children as young as three years of age are old enough to undertake some responsibilities in the house.
What you can do:
3. Underline the merits of hard work – Children understand simple reasoning. Therefore, talk it out with them.
What you can do:
4. Practise what you preach – Children have role models, consciously and unconsciously. And parents are the first such models.
What you can do:
1. Don’t overdo being a role model – You could easily fall into the habit of groaning about how no one else has a sense of responsibility, and go around doing all the chores that you had allotted to others. This will give the child the idea that things will get done, whether he exerts himself or not – a very bad idea, because it doesn’t work out that way in adult life.
2. Don’t be too critical – it could work adversely, and the child might hesitate to even make an attempt at a task because of the fear of failure.
3. Don’t equate laziness with downtime – Everyone needs time to relax. Some need more time than others. It is in times of quietness and seeming inactivity that creativity and originality flourish. So don’t insist on filling your child’s life with activities of various sorts, 24x7. Once she realises that you are fine with her having some time to do what she enjoys doing, she will be more open to doing things she doesn’t enjoy – like putting away a week’s supply of vegetables or taking out the trash.
Never label a child ‘lazy’. No child deserves that. Every child deserves the loving support of his parents to help him bloom into a happy, productive, well-adjusted adult. So parents, let’s work towards that.
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