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How to Motivate My Lazy Daughter?



Reply Date

Jun 09, 2018


How much should I push a child to continue an activity they want to drop out of? I have a 12-year-old daughter. She always starts something – like a hobby- but gets bored if it easily. In fact, she gets bored of everything – she is lazy to study, it is so hard to wake her up in the morning; she does not want to help me with the house chores. I am not sure what to do with her. Any advice?



How to Motivate My Lazy Daughter?

In this counseling answer: 

The counselor advises: “I would try talk with your daughter and get to the root of the problem. It doesn’t sound like she is lazy or unmotivated but rather she may be feeling overwhelmed, confused about her changing body and emotions. She might have a low self-esteem.”

As-Salamu ’Alaykum,

Thank you for writing to us. Your daughter is acting typical of many 12-year-olds. During this time of preadolescence, her hormones are activated, her body is changing as are her emotions, mood, and the concept of self. Her behaviors may also change in response to this (or other external factors) thus affecting her interests and motivation.

Children at this age often suffer from a lack of self-confidence or low self-esteem. They often feel discouraged, angry, or anxious. This is often masked by not completing tasks, not wanting to study “acting bored”, being rebellious and so on.

Finding out what your daughter is feeling is important. For instance, when she does not finish a task, kindly try to find out why. Tell her you are proud of her for doing such a great job thus far, and you want to know why she stopped. Usually, children quit things because either they truly are not interested or they feel frustrated and discouraged. Finding out the source of her frustration and discouragement will be vital towards any resolution.

Check out this counseling video

Many psychologists feel that there are no “lazy” children.There are children who may feel like failures or feel demoralized after attempting tasks and feel unable to do them so they just give up. There are children who won’t study math or language but will watch the animal planet or the discovery channel. Finding their interests  (even if it is not your interest) and encouraging them to engage in their interests as well as reducing the feelings of inability are two keys to begin resolving the issue of motivation. This can be done by being excited and interested in her interests, finding the source of her frustration and discouragement and acknowledge it.

Acknowledge every effort and improvement; encourage her, focus on her strengths, and give her time. This will require that you take a different approach to motivation, one which includes encouraging her to talk to you about her feelings, experiences in school as well as in any social circles to rule out any problems she may be having such as being bullied or teased. You will need to refrain from judging her feelings and focus on validating how she may feel. 

Psychology Today states  “solving the problem of motivation will take time. Demoralization has developed over time. It will take time for your child to learn to overcome his pessimism and self-doubt and to let go of cynical and defiant attitudes. Over time, he has become sensitized to disappointments and stuck in moments of frustration. The more that his demoralization has spread, the more that his pessimism and rebellion have become habitual, the more time he will need”.

Sister, based on what you have written, I would try talk with your daughter and get to the root of the problem. It doesn’t sound like she is lazy or unmotivated but rather she may be feeling overwhelmed, confused about her changing body and emotions. She may have a loss of self-esteem leading to feeling demoralized or she may be having issues at school. Please do try to find out. If this fails and her behavior continues to deteriorate, please contact her doctor to screen for depression. Again, these behaviors are often seen in teens and pre-teens and are resolved with positive intervention. But if in doubt, please do take her for counseling.

We wish you the best,


Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.

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About Aisha Mohammad-Swan

Aisha Mohammad-Swan received her PhD in psychology in 2000. Aisha worked as a Counselor/Psychologist for 12 years for Geneva B. Scruggs Community Health Care Center in New York with a focus on PTSD, OCD, depression, anxiety, substance abuse, marriage/relationships issues, as well as community-cultural dynamics. She is certified in Restorative Justice/ Healing Circles, Conflict Resolution, and Mediation, and is also a certified Life Coach. She is currently studying for her certification in Islamic Chaplaincy, and takes Islamic courses at SHC. Aisha works at a Women's Daytime Drop in Center, and has her own part-time practice in which she integrates counseling and holistic health. Aisha also received an MA in Public Health/Community Development in 2009 and plans to open a community counseling/resource center for Muslims and others in the New York area in the future, in sha' Allah.

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