Lazy Kid Syndrome?

Lazy Kid Syndrome?

Probably not…

In general, children want to please. They want to make us happy and be rewarded with praise and attention. It is a basic human need that we all experience.

What many parents and teachers see as a lazy child is usually a distracted or confused child. Kids with Executive Functions disorder are often mistaken as lazy. These are kids that are seen as intelligent by parents and teachers but are often mislabelled as lazy or lacking motivation. They simply do not have the skills necessary to complete the expectations independently. Executive Functions includes regulation of goals, organization, flexibility, planning, prioritizing and reflection.

 Individuals with Executive Functioning deficits will experience problems in the following areas:

  • Getting started on their work

  • Seeing work through to completion

  • Writing essays or reportsPost-Frustrated-Boy

  • Working math problems

  • Being punctual

  • Controlling emotions

  • Completing long-term assignments

  • Planning for the future

Although Executive Functions Disorder can be a challenging learning disability, depending on the severity, it is manageable. Many strategies and accommodations can be put in place to assist kids with the scaffolding necessary to get them through a task, transition or social situation.

Parents and teachers can both take advantage of and teach strategies that help with organization of space, time and materials. A couple of excellent books that is a wealth of ideas and further resources for teachers are:




 Some useful strategies include:

  • Breaking tasks (assignments or chores) into steps, with a written plan for completing assignments. Provide directions written and orally

  • Use of agenda, calendar or daily planner to help organize special dates, assignments, classes, etc. Create a visual calendar to help with time management. Sometimes a month-at-a-glance calendar is more visual and helps with longer-term time management.

  • Use of watch or cell phone alarm for reminders. Use of visual timers if necessary

  • Provide transitional time between activities or tasks. This could just include a brief, “heads up…we are going to be leaving for recess in 5…” or, “I’m going to ask you to clean up your stuff in 5 minutes and then we are going to get ready to go.”

  • Use of “to do” lists and checklists. There are great apps for this purpose.

  • Create a working area at home that is organized and free of clutter and distractions. Regularly schedule times to reorganize this area.

  • Ensure there is good communication between home and school to prevent any missed assignments, papers to be signed, etc.

The most important advice I would give as both a teacher and a mother (of a child with executive function deficits) is to keep it organized and consistent. A good role model is important. Those with executive function deficits have little internal organization. Learning how to organize their world will help to make them more successful. Knowing where to find things, when to be somewhere and what to expect will reduce the amount of meltdowns associated with poor emotional regulation.

Ideally, all this hard work will pay off. Children learn quickly that these little things are necessary for their own success and eventually adopt the strategies that help them the most.

Some great websites on Executive Functions include:


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