Your Child Isn’t Lazy and Neither Are You

Do you sometimes worry that your child or teenager is lazy? Worries about laziness are common among parents of the gifted or twice-exceptional.

Although I understand parents’ worries, I don’t believe in laziness. People are innately driven to learn, explore, connect, and grow. Research suggests that we stay in touch with this innate drive to engage as long as our environment doesn’t shut it down too harshly or consistently. Within this framework, “lazy” feelings or behavior indicate something is awry and needs attention.

A gifted child who seems “lazy” may actually be twice-exceptional with ADHD, a learning disability, or autism. A child may seem careless about their work, unmotivated to do daily tasks, resistant to homework, only willing to do the bare minimum, or slow to get started on something new, but it’s not accurate or helpful to refer to these behaviors or people as “careless,” “unmotivated,” “resistant,” or “unwilling.” These descriptions misconstrue a neurological characteristic as a character flaw and frame a disability as something willful and shameful.

I don’t know a single parent or teacher who wants to instill shame in their children or students, so why is this harmful narrative about twice-exceptionality so common?

Dr. Devon Price’s new book Laziness Does Not Exist helps answer this question. Price, who is twice-exceptional, writes about the Laziness Lie, a pervasive and harmful belief system that implies “hard work is morally superior to relaxation, that people who aren’t productive have less innate value than productive people.” Capitalism, racism, and classism fuel our fear of laziness...


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About Danika Maddocks

Danika Maddocks earned her Ph.D. in school psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. Prior to her doctoral studies, Danika taught elementary and middle school and trained other educators. She researches giftedness, twice-exceptionality, intelligence, assessment, and the role of motivation and emotion in teaching and learning. Danika provides therapy and consultation services in private practice; learn more about her research and private practice at You can also sign up for her mailing list.