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Can a 3 year-old be lazy?

Most three year olds want to do everything by themselves. My son does not. He is lazy! I can't get him to dress himself, wash himself, clean up after himself, etc. Sometimes he still asks me to feed him (which I DON'T)! Even getting him to pull up and down his own pants when he goes potty is a battle. What can I do to foster his independence? He doesn't respond to all that "big boy" stuff.

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Asked by kathy5980 at 1:04 AM on Nov. 25, 2008 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 8 (269 Credits)
Answers (9)
  • A 3 year old is not yet ready to be totally independent from their parent. They are transitioning from being a baby to being a kid, and it's not an easy time for them. They still want the comfort of having their parent's help and love, and that will always be the case. It sounds like the problem isn't really that your child is doing anything wrong. Your expectations are obviously more than he can deliver right now, and calling him lazy just shows how resentful you are of him because of that. It's your problem, not his. Your child will always need your love and guidance, you don't get to be free of that just because you are sick of taking care of him. Did you think your job would be over once he wasn't a baby anymore?

    Answer by Anonymous at 1:51 AM on Nov. 25, 2008

  • Have you tried rewarding him when he does something like a 'big boy'? Even when he does something little, make sure you act super excited and tell him what a big boy he is. I do different rewards with my son, he can get stickers to put on his calendar, sometimes I'll give him pennies, or a special treat like a cookie or a piece of candy. I don't feel like I'm bribing him because I don't do it every time, but sometimes. Maybe make things into a game, like say 'let's see if you can pull your pants up by the time I count to 10', something like that. My boys actually have races to see who can get their dishes into the sink first (without running!). Just keep encouraging him and praising, and be patient! Good luck!

    Answer by mom2XandZ at 2:37 AM on Nov. 25, 2008

  • Jeez people are so harsh!! Anonymous...take your righteous self somewhere else please!

    I don't think you are resentful, Kathy, you are concerned. It is so hard being a mom and we read books and take advice and sometimes it seems that our baby does not fit into any of this. I agree with the above poster that tons of praise can do wonders! Just like puppies, kids need encouragement and TONS of it!! I see nothing wrong with treats and rewards to get a goood bhavior starte. Once he starts to respond well, you can lay of the goodies. It's getting the behavior started and embedded well into his brain that is important here.

    And ignore the negativity!!! Good luck mama!

    Answer by MammaMia72 at 5:19 AM on Nov. 25, 2008

  • I wonder where he is in his emotional age. I knew a five year old who was emotionally really two. It can also happen to adults and people of any age. How does this impact him right now? How does this negatively impact you now? Start off slowly and don't try to coerse him into everything you want him to do all by himself (even if he really can) all at once. I would first see my child's pediatrician for a evaluation and possible OT evaluation. Some toddlers and 3 yr. olds, while they know how to dress and undress or eat, don't have the muscle strength. They may be able to use a spoon but not very well. It may look like these kids are being sloppy but in reality they are not lazy - they just need a little extra professional help to get the strength and cooridination down.

    Answer by frogdawg at 9:59 AM on Nov. 25, 2008

  • cont..Start by picking just one thing that you want him to do independently that you absolutely know he can do. Then have a plan. It is possible it is behavioral. So have a sitter, grandparent, or dad ask him to do the task on his own. Will he do them for others? Also see about play dates, two day a week morning mom out program. Sometimes interaction with peers is the best way to motivate independence. They will follow what other kids do even when we beg, bribe, yell, and demand and that doesn't work. Go figure. Toddlers feel peer pressure. Read age appropriate books with him about what 3 yr. olds can do. Make some tasks a game...let's see who can get their shoes on faster, the first person to get their coat off gets a prize, ect...have fun with it and with him.

    Answer by frogdawg at 10:05 AM on Nov. 25, 2008

  • cont..Role modeling and complementing others will sometimes work. Children often want praise, "I did it!" But when we prasie another child soon others will often fall in line wanting that same praise and sense of accomplishment as well. Also don't fall into the trap that many parents do. I did. I expected my child to do certain tasks and accomplish certain milestones that were just not age appropriate. It left him and me frustrated. So over all, start small and work your way up with him. He won't be 15 and still wanting you to wipe his butt.

    Answer by frogdawg at 10:08 AM on Nov. 25, 2008

  • Just dont do these things for him. My kids will ask if we will feed them still and we say no. If they are hungry they will eat. Its just testing you to see how much you will do for him. Just put a time limit on everything. Give him ten minutes to try it "Like a big boy." If he doesnt, help him. Like frogdawg said he wont be 15 still wanting you to wipe his hine end. Does he have an interest in daddy? You could tell him he would be big like daddy if he did these things.

    Answer by LovinEveryDay at 2:20 PM on Nov. 25, 2008

  • Thank you so much for all your helpful answers (except you know convenient that she is "anonymous". Duh, of course I didn't think my job would end when he wasn't a baby anymore). I think LovinEveryDay is right. I just need to stop doing things that I KNOW he can already do. I usually just give in after a few minutes. And then like several of you suggested try to make learning new things like a game. I know all children develop at a different pace, but it concerns me that he doesn't even show interest in doing things for himself.


    Answer by kathy5980 at 9:14 PM on Nov. 25, 2008

  • You really cannot expect a three year old to know how to automatically dress themself, and clean up after themself. I will admit though that the whole potty part is a shocker to me, as my two 3 1/2 year old step children ( a boy and a girl) are very independent when it come's to going to the BR. As for everything else, it is tough, they will try to dress themselves, but they can hardly eat by themselves, and they def. cannot clean up after themselves. All of these things you have to do first to show them how to do it! Show them how you eat, make sure to eat with him, not before him or after him, really with him.
    Also if you want him to clean up his toys bring the toy box to him and ask him nicely to put his stuff away, show him by picking up a toy and placing it into the box. He is three, there are still some words that he will not understand, actions really do speak louder. I hope this helps you.

    Answer by Rachel_88 at 4:32 PM on Nov. 27, 2008

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