Laziness in preschool can lead to troubles later in the child's schooling.

How to Deal With a Lazy Preschooler

by Erin Schreiner

Many preschoolers possess high energy levels and bubbly personalities that make them difficult to corral. If your preschooler doesn’t exude this characteristic energy, you may find it more difficult to get him to participate willingly in academic tasks or even play actively with friends. Instead of ignoring this seeming laziness, tackle the problem, increasing the likelihood that your developing preschooler is more actively engaged in both educational and leisure activities.

Rule out medical causes. Sometimes, what appears to be laziness can actually be a manifestation of a physical malady that is leading to exhaustion in the child. Visit your child’s primary care physician and carefully describe the behaviors your child has been exhibiting. This trained medical professional will be able to administer the necessary tests to check for potential medical causes for this behavior.

Modify your child's bedtime. If your preschooler is exceptionally fatigued due to lack of sleep, you may mistake this for laziness. Gradually start changing your child's bedtime, sending him to sleep 15 minutes earlier each night for four consecutive days. As you make this change, monitor your child's behavior to determine whether this bedtime modification has resulted in a laziness reduction. If it seems to be having a positive effect, make the modified bedtime permanent or even continue to make changes, resulting in an even earlier bedtime for your tot.

Evaluate the child’s interests. What appears to be laziness could actually be the result of extreme disinterest. Spend some time determining what your child likes by monitoring her during play periods and making note of the toys to which she gravitates.

Integrate activities of interest into your child’s day whenever possible. If you notice, during your interest evaluation, that your child seems to particularly enjoy playing with trucks, capitalize off of this interest by integrating trucks into any learning activities you may ask your child to complete. For example, when working on counting with your youngster, ask him to count up all of the toy trucks in his expansive collection. Because he has a natural interest in trucks, he may be more eager to comply with your request.

Reward effort. Any time your normally lazy preschooler exhibits energetic and enthusiastic engagement, reward this behavior to encourage its repetition. Reward her simply with praise, telling her how proud you are of her. If she is extremely engaged and energetic, provide a more ample reward, such as a sticker.

Remain consistent. It is easy to allow yourself to be lackadaisical in your attempts to engage your preschooler and your presentation of rewards. It is vital, however, that you remain consistent, providing the same encouragement and positive consequences daily; if you do, you improve your chances of effectively retraining the apathetic tot, transforming him into a focused and energetic youngster.

About the Author

Erin Schreiner is a freelance writer and teacher who holds a bachelor's degree from Bowling Green State University. She has been actively freelancing since 2008. Schreiner previously worked for a London-based freelance firm. Her work appears on eHow, and RedEnvelope. She currently teaches writing to middle school students in Ohio and works on her writing craft regularly.

Photo Credits

  • little preschooler image by Renata Osinska from