Stop Calling That Child Lazy...
A part of parenthood is assigning your chores. It’s almost a right of passage for the parent and the child. Assigning chores helps to teach children independence, time management, and prepares them to be able to take care of themselves in the future.
But what happens when you see your child struggling to get things done, while keeping up with their schoolwork, their athletic schedules, and if they're a teenager - developing a budding social life?
Often times when children are overwhelmed, overbooked or overstimulated, their chores are the first thing to go. Adults are similar in nature, yet we are able to give ourselves grace because "self-care".
In our minds, we will get to it at some point. But when wearing the parent hat, suddenly the child becomes lazy or lacks the ability to prioritize.
I can tell how overwhelmed I am by how my room looks. Are there clothes scattered throughout the room? Has my laundry been done? Is my nightstand chaotic? In most cases, the answers are yes, yes, and absolutely! My kids are the same way. So because I am able to recognize the signs, instead of fussing at them for not doing their chores and their rooms being a mess, I can pause in the chaos and see what needs to be done.
With my youngest, most times her initial reaction is to burst into tears because she is overwhelmed and just doesn’t know where to start. Once she’s able to calm down, we can put a plan into place. The plan usually looks like us working together to declutter, organize, and refresh her space because I am a firm believer that if your space is clear, then your mind is c.lear as well.
Bottom line: Stop calling that child lazy and ask them how can you help. If you’re not sure where to start, here are a few tips:
Have a Conversation
Seems pretty self explanatory, right? Ask them how things are going - with school, their friends...anything that they are willing to share. Try using open-ended questions to encourage conversation. Depending on your child's age, they may not be able to fully articulate what they are feeling or they may be trying to filter their response out of fear of punishment or to avoid shame.
Look for Changes in Their Behavior
No one knows your child better than you do so you will be able to sense when something is off. Are they easily irritated? Are they sleeping less or more than usual? Have their eating habits changed?
I know when my daughter asks for strawberry ice cream, it’s because she’s trying to self-soothe. Of course I buy the ice cream but I get enough for both of us and we're usually able to chat while we enjoy our treat. It takes the pressure off both of us and the conversation becomes more organic.
How Clean is Their Space?
While my children aren’t necessarily neat freaks, they keep their rooms fairly clean. Clean clothes put away, dirty clothes in the hamper, food containers brought back to the kitchen or put in the trash when they’re finished - you know, tidy. But when they are overwhelmed - clothes are everywhere, trash bag full - just seems like they are living in chaos. Even though it’s their space, sometimes I'm a little bothered, because I know what madness lurks behind the closed doors.
It wasn’t until I was having a chaotic couple of weeks and I looked up and my side of bedroom looked like a Frank Ocean song (IYKYK). My laundry hamper was overflowing, I had clothes on the floor and my bedside table had papers and water bottles everywhere.
In that moment, the lightbulb went off and I realized that all of my children inherited this trait. So I thought about what I would want someone to do for me at that moment. My husband will do the laundry and maybe volunteer to pitch in to help organize my mess. So that’s what I started doing with the kids. Sometimes it's as simple as lending a helping hand instead of being frustrated. So I may help fold up a load of clothes or throw a load in the washer - just something simple to help them get started. Once they realize they’re not in this alone, they're able to do what needs to be done and get themselves back on track mentally and emotionally.
Until next time...