“Kids these days are just lazy.” While I was on vacation, I heard an older couple talking and this was a line that has stuck with me. At the time I wanted to go over and have a conversation with these folks about why they felt this way. I decided not to interrupt their meal or mine…
It’s not something I haven’t heard before. From random people. From parents. From teachers. From relatives of mine.
Personally, I hate hearing that label being placed on kids!
I believe there is a big difference between kids being unmotivated and kids being lazy. I believe there are many kids today who don’t feel motivated. Why? I don’t think enough kids know who they are or have had the opportunity to explore what lights them up! What excites them! What brings them joy!
Too many kids are trying to meet others’ expectations. Whether it is expectations with school, sports, or simply just living. I’ve met with way too many kids who are sad, anxious, angry, withdrawn. Seemingly “lazy”. Not wanting to participate in activities. Or in school. Middle schools are filled with kids labeled as “lazy kids”.
What do these kids often do? The “lazy stuff”. Eat too many snacks. Play video games. Watch tv. Surf the internet. Watch movies. Are they lazy??
I say, “NO!”
I believe there is a generation of kids who don’t feel motivated to participate in life for fear of letting others down. Fear of being seen as a failure. Fear of not doing it ‘right’. Fear of stepping outside the box of what they “should” be doing. Fear of figuring out what they want to do. Fear of being who they are. Fear.
I don’t think we allow young kids to “be kids” nearly enough ~ to be loud, run, play, explore, be different, test boundaries, do what kids do!
We used to say, “watch a class of kindergartners to see what life can be like! To play! To laugh! To act as though there isn’t a care in the world!” Not anymore. Now kindergarteners need to come in knowing the alphabet, letter sounds, numbers, how to sit for 20-30 minutes. They are expected to write personal narratives! Count to 120! Recess consists of short play times – if they haven’t lost their chance or eaten too slowly. Nap time is there if they can sleep fast!
With these expectations, many kindergarteners begin having a negative association with school. It’s just rules. Boring. Anger inducing. I worked with a beautiful boy as a kindergartener. He was on a point sheet to help him. Why? He didn’t sit quietly. He blurted out answers. He touched other kids too much. I met with him again as a 1st grader and parents were being told he was “impulsive”. He “tries to make other kids laugh” by doing things like putting stickers on his mouth. He doesn’t “follow directions” on art projects. He often “shouts out answers”. His parents are beside themselves and want to know how they can help him. Again.
What do I see? A bright, active, creative, energetic boy who is being shut down. He isn’t fitting into a teacher or classrooms’ expectations. So he’ll be on a point sheet again, earning prizes for doing what he is “supposed” to do. This is the beginning of creating a “lazy kid”.
How motivated will he be to use HIS gifts? To learn who HE is? I’m not sure because already as a 7 year old, he is being trained to be someone he isn’t. His creativity is being stifled. His sense of right or wrong isn’t being nurtured; rather he is being rewarded for following the group. As a bright kid who knows most of the answers already, I fear he may start withdrawing or doing more negative things to get attention and laughs. Will he start not caring about school because his excitement now, when he does know the answers, is being scolded?
This type of scenario, in my opinion, is the beginning of kids who get labeled as “lazy kids”.
If we don’t allow kids the time, space and support to figure out who they are. When we don’t celebrate differences. If we don’t let kids make mistakes and learn from them. When we don’t empower kids to try new things and risk failing. The result is kids who are unmotivated to be who they are! And I believe even if ONE child is unmotivated because they have been shut down, it is ONE too many.
Other kids become motivated to people please. Be perfect. Earn approval or love. But I can tell you, often these kids aren’t happy either. These kids end up with even more anxiety, which is incredibly evident among kids today.
Sure enough kids are motivated. But are we okay with SOME who are and others who aren’t?
Society sees “lazy kids”. I see kids who have yet to tap into their unique brilliance and are simply shutting down because it seems easier than standing up to figure out who they are.
I know it can be different! And I believe kids are worth taking the time, energy, money and resources to explore ways to make this happen! Every child needs to matter.