Children Who Take Shortcuts

Oh, could you please talk about how to deal with (and what to do with) a child who takes shortcuts… not wanting to do the work (mostly school, but also other tasks), a child (age 11) who works very hard at not working. Guessing at answers, pretending to read, failing to do corrections because she “did not think you would recheck it”… which I always have.

A child who fills in an answer that says “ten”… ten what?? Ten minutes, ten weeks, ten years? And when asks, replies, “You should have just known.” I am asking for a miracle I know… my child is not the norm (ask Cheryl) as she came to me later and has trouble connecting. Still, her education is in my hands and I am baffled. I have a younger child also, who is watching this and starting to copy some attitudes. He is seven and needs more training time, which is being stolen by bad behaviors in his sibling. How do I fix this?


Oh, Bren, I could not help but chuckle at some of the things you shared. I know it's not right, but it's always funnier when it's someone else's child, no? I'm sure you're past seeing any humor in the situation and are just plain frustrated.

I can only share with you what we've done with a similar situation, but it might not be the answer you need. Pray and ask the Lord what He thinks.

We have a child who is very mature, very responsible when it comes to getting tasks done, and a complete help with siblings. I can count on this child in so many ways.

However. This child loses EVERYTHING. Crafts have been started and then lost. Yes, whole projects, GONE. School books can't be found, clothing is missing, etc. Actually, as I write this I can see that we have made some small progress, so I can say things are getting better.

Initially I was just plain frustrated. How does someone lose an entire backpack filled and ready for vacation the day we are going to leave??? It was set out that morning...

Tears have been shed, and the child is also frustrated. That being the case, I have set about helping the child with my own exhibited patience. We've cracked open the Bible and had the child copy verses about responsibility and diligence. We've also set in motion some "reality discipline" tactics: no new crafts can be started until the old ones are found and completed. Lost school books are paid for if not found by a set date.

My kids don't have a steady income (no allowance, etc.), so having to pay for a school book is agony! It's only happened once (amazing how much time they'll spend looking for it when they know they'll have to pay for it), and after the child doled out $25 and the new book arrived, the old one was found. Painful reality.

My advice to you would be to ask the Holy Spirit to help you guard yourself from showing any kind of frustration. When I get worked up over a child's behavior, it only makes the situation worse. Then set up, in advance, the rules and the consequences. Sit down at breakfast when everyone is calm and happy and tell that sweet child what she's going to work on that day (diligence? a good attitude?). Tell her that each time you see her exhibiting that good quality, she'll get x (an m-n-m? a checkmark on a chart that leads to some prize when all the boxes are filled?). Or tell her that if she can go 15 minutes without being lazy or complaining, she'll get x. Or if she can do each task completely, without cutting corners, she'll get x. But----- remind her that she can only accomplish anything with Christ's help. And that her worth and value do not come from being good, or even from conquering this weakness! Jesus can only always be good.

Baby steps, you see? Reward every. little. accomplishment. At the end of the day, praise her to her dad and brother. Make dinner triumphant, even if she only succeeded once that day.

Don't be afraid to create some negative consequences, too. Much like having to pay for a lost school book, you could set in motion a rule that discourages half-done work. Stick to it. Don't renege. Let your yes be yes and your no be no. If you tell her the consequence of not being diligent is to not be able to participate in some fun activity, then by all means, don't let her participate.

You are on her team. Communicate that as best you can.