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Why does my child not do any work we ask him to?

Q: Our six years old son is extremely lazy. He never completes any task when asked to. He keeps avoiding it and if at all he does do it, it is not done properly or completely. This morning I asked him to put away the playing cards he had taken out earlier. He did not do this until I asked him a fourth time and then I was starting to get angry). He then got off the couch and picked up a few of the cards (the ones in clear view) and put them messily on the coffee table, leaving several cards under the chair and a couple across the room. It was obvious to me that he knew that there were more cards but he just didn't feel like picking all of them. This is just one example of the dozens throughout the day. If he leaves his bike in the street, he will usually only go and get it after we start losing our temper and then instead of bringing it all the way up the driveway and against the side of the house where it belongs, he will just drop it wherever. He seems to be very easily distracted by anything (TV, bugs crawling across the sidewalk, pebbles on the ground etc.) Our eldest son does not have this problem and so we feel it must be a personality trait? We do not know how to manage this without losing it each and every day. We feel that we are losing our temper with him too often and that this will have a negative effect on his self esteem. How can we effectively deal with this frustrating behaviour?

A:Perhaps your son has too much food or too much of the wrong kind of food. That could be one reason for his sluggishness. Consult an expert in diets for children. Cut down on cokes and aerated drinks, chocolates and fried foods. Find out what he would consider a good reward. If it is feasible, give that when he finishes tasks on time and withhold it when he is slack. Some children may need a mild punishment, like the 'Time out' that many parents use. But do not shut him away in a room. Even when he is punished by being isolated, you should be accessible and he should know that you are within call. Make a chart for him and display it where he can see it. Have a small square space for every task and put a big tick mark against each of the tasks as he completes them. When he does something well, do not forget to mention to him that you are happy. Break up the tasks into smaller units and let him feel that he has mastered them. If he goes to a good school, you could also make his teacher an ally and have her support your demands for neatness and responsibility in the home.

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