7 Ways to Motivate a Lazy Adult Living with Parents

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Have you ever seen the movie Failure to Launch with Matthew McConaughey and Sarah Jessica Parker? It's a goodie and a real tear-jerker. The movie centers around two desperate parents who want to see their lazy adult son (who lives with them) find direction and purpose in his life. They go as far as hiring a professional motivator to help them.

Similarly, a friend of mine has slipped into a bad space where she has become very lazy and refuses to do things for herself. She is living with her parents and doesn't contribute toward the household in any way (either by helping out with chores or financial assistance).

Do you also have friends who are lazy adults living with parents, or are you the parent living with a lazy adult? I know this can be a tough place to find yourself, as you love your children and want to see them succeed.

In this guide, I've put together 7 effective ways to motivate a lazy adult living with parents, and with the right amount of kindness and patience, you should start seeing a difference in your child.

But first, let's take a closer look at what constitutes laziness and the reasons behind this behavior.

What Constitutes Laziness? 

Laziness presents itself in many ways, but in a nutshell, it's a lack of desire to do things that could exert you. Lazy people are in no hurry to do something for themselves, let alone for others.

They will avoid things such as household chores, making themselves food, or going shopping. When something has to be done, a lazy person will take their time in getting it done, or they'll engage in something that involves less effort.

Remember, there is a difference between laziness and demotivation. A demotivated person has lost their passion or goals to do things. A lazy person just won't do things because they don't want to. The dictionary explains laziness as “the quality of being unwilling to work or use energy; idleness.”

Reasons Why a Person Is Lazy

There are a couple of reasons why a person is lazy, such as: 

  • Lack of self-discipline.
  • Lack of self-esteem and confidence issues.
  • Lack of interest in the task at hand.
  • Extreme procrastination (although, someone who procrastinates seems to be lazy but technically aren’t).
  • Avoiding any form of inconvenience (to themselves).
  • A sense of hopelessness or feeling sorry for themselves.
  • Feelings of resentment or an “I don't care” attitude.
  • A bad habit.

7 Ways to Motivate Lazy Adults Living with Parents 

Here are 7 effective ways to motivate lazy adults living with parents:

1. Shake Things Up

Sometimes we do ourselves a disservice when we do too much for the ones we love. If you clean their room, pick up their clothes off the floor, wash them, and iron them, why would the adult want to change that?

You may be doing even more than that, and perhaps you're also making them breakfast, lunch, and dinner (with snacks and beverages in between). I can assure you this is not helping the situation in any way.

They're living the good life and will milk it for as long as possible. 

It's time to shake things up in your household. Start by placing a washing basket in their room. It doesn't get done if the washing isn't there on washing day.

Next up, tell them there are ingredients in the fridge, and they can sort themselves out for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Let them know you also have a life, and they need to start pulling their weight with chores:

  • Take out the garbage
  • Feed the pets
  • Clean their room (and any other common areas in the house)
  • Make dinner for the family once a week (at least)

The key to success here is consistency. There will be resistance initially, but hold your ground, don't cave in, and start doing the things yourself again.

2. Talk It Out

As lazy as they may be behaving, try to remember that you're dealing with an adult, and they need to start acting like one. Part of being an adult is communicating with one another on a mature level (no shouting, pouting, or whining).

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Having a conversation with your lazy adult child can be a delicate and challenging task.

Set a date and time for a conversation, and whatever you do, do not try to talk to them while they're playing PlayStation or watching a movie. This will lead to irritation, frustration, and nagging as you fight to be heard. (Sounds familiar, right)

It would be best if you had their full attention, as it's time to talk things out. There are some essential things you should keep in mind when you have this convo with the adult (whether they're your child or not):

  1. Don't charge straight into the conversation, waving around the “lazy card” and throwing consequences and ultimatums around (you will have lost this battle before you have even started).
  2. Rather, ask them how they're feeling. Try to gauge where their mindset is. Do this gently without being too nosey.
  3. Let them know how you're feeling about their “laziness” and the extra pressure it's placing on you to keep the household running.
  4. Above all, be approachable and non-judgmental. Give them time to speak without interrupting them, and if they aren't ready to talk, give them the option to get back to you.
  5. Whatever the issue might be, show them you care and are willing to help them through the problem. Be clear that you expect them to understand your point of view and how you feel.

3. Drop the Label

Okay, so hear me out. I understand that an adult living with their parents might be doing things that demonstrate lazy behavior, but have you considered the fact that you're labeling them and enabling the issue?

The word lazy has a negative connotation attached to it, and if you tell a person enough times that they are a certain way, they will start to believe it after a while. When someone feels down and out and keeps hearing negative feedback, they will stop trying (because what's the point, right?)

Picture your mother (or lecturer or boss) continuously yelling at you and telling you how lazy you are. Labeling a person or naming them can hugely impact their behavior and psyche. You want to build this adult up and help them stand on their own two feet.

Continuously bashing them with the word “lazy” is doing none of you any good. Let's face it; you aren't going to get through to them if you sound like a broken record. There is only one of two ways this can go, and neither of them has a positive outcome.

Either the adult will withdraw further into themselves and feel even more useless (than they perhaps already do), or all your energy and frustration will fall on deaf ears, and they treat your irritation as background noise.

Drop the “lazy” label and say, “I appreciate your laid-back approach, but I need you to cook dinner tonight.” Try not to be sarcastic on the “laid back” part, and you'll notice a mindset shift – both of you will.

4. Encourage Responsibility

“I can't wait to be an adult and do whatever I want.” Remember this type of discussion in school? Samesies. But that just isn't how it works. For some adults, the idea of being responsible for their own lives terrifies them, and instead, they stay at home where they don't have to face work, bills, or life in general.

This isn't the case for everyone, as it does save money for families to live together. The problem comes in when you have lazy adults living with parents. They don't contribute financially, they don't help with the upkeep of the home, and they refuse to take responsibility for things.

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Encouraging responsibility to your lazy child is an essential part of personal and social development.

Being a parent can be very tricky when it comes to being real with your children. Encourage them to take responsibility and accountability for their lives. They can't keep holding onto a mental crutch, time is moving on, and they're letting it pass them by.

Encourage them to look for a job doing something they enjoy and to start paying a portion of the rent for their room. Giving them financial responsibility will also provide them with a sense of purpose. Teach them that they alone are responsible for how their lives pan out, and there's no better time to start than now.

They also need to take responsibility for their actions. If they have no clean clothes to wear, that's due to them not placing their clothes in the wash basket (a simple task), and they can't blame anyone else for that.

5. Show Your Support

One of the most effective ways to motivate a lazy adult living with parents is to be supportive. I understand fully that it must be pretty tricky for a parent to be supportive when their adult child behaves like, well, a child.

If you continue to run them down and nag continuously, you aren't going to see results. Instead, there will be unnecessary tension and friction in your home. Ideally, you want your home to be a comfortable and peaceful place where you can relax.

By showing them that you support them, you also send the message that you value and care for them. Be careful not to go overboard with your support, as it might backfire on you. 

Show support for important things such as:

  • Putting together a resume and actively looking for a job
  • Reading up about available online courses 
  • Showing interest in new hobbies
  • Getting out into nature more often
  • Limiting PlayStation and screen time
  • Helping with chores
  • Making dinners and sitting down with the family

6. Avoid Mollycoddling

Empty nest syndrome is a real thing and can be a frightening idea for parents, but that doesn't mean you should baby or mollycoddle your children while they're still living under your roof. It may feel like you're going over and above for your kids, but you're actually doing some severe damage.

Children have to grow up at some stage (whether we like it or not), and you need to help them make this transition from a child into an adult. Babying your adult child takes away their understanding of how the real world works.

Plus, you are causing further problems for their life partners and future relationships, as they likely won't tolerate this mollycoddling. Some parents take mollycoddling so far that they think for their children and speak for them (which is also a bad habit).

Your child is an adult and should be able to go to a store and pick out their own clothes. Your children should not be micromanaged (even though they probably quite enjoy the faffing and attention).

If you do everything for them, they'll never know they can actually do it on their own if they try. So let go of the reins and let them experience doing things for themselves.

7. Use Positive Affirmations 

If there's one thing I firmly believe in that can change the mindset of even the most stubborn individual, it's by using positive affirmations in your daily life. Encourage your lazy adult to find an affirmation they like (even if it's just one to start with) and to repeat it to themselves daily.

They should write it on a piece of paper and put it up somewhere where they'll see it every day (putting a reminder on your phone works well.) Repeating these affirmations has a fantastic way of boosting their confidence and opinion of themselves.

Here are a few powerful affirmations that work well against laziness and procrastination:

  • “By taking care of this present moment, I set myself up for a beautiful future.”
  • “My goals are more important than my need to seek instant gratification.”
  • “My future depends on my today.”
  • “I am strong enough to do this.”
  • “I am in control of my life.”

You want your child to see and realize their potential (to see themselves as you see them), and affirmations are one of the best ways to do this. It removes those overwhelming feelings of stress, panic, and self-doubt and replaces them with feelings of self-worth and determination.

Psst, you can also use some of these positive affirmations (such as “Parenting has ups and downs, and I can handle them”) to help you deal with the frustration and anxiousness that comes with living with a lazy adult.

Final Thoughts on Motivating Lazy Adults Living with Parents 

Firstly, well done on actively taking steps to help your child out of this bad habit. The key is not to give up on them and to help guide them to a better mindset about life and themselves.

Most lazy adults are fully aware of how their behavior affects others, and they feel guilty on some level, but they've developed such a bad habit that they don't know how to turn it around. That's why it's crucial for you as the parent to talk to them like adults and not baby them.

All over the world, many families live together, and it benefits both sides (the parents and the adult children). The issue comes in when the adult child is lazy and doesn't offer any help to the family.

It's never too late for a person to evolve, so take a deep breath and start working through these 7 ways to motivate the lazy adult in question.

If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about the science behind motivation, check out our guide on how to get motivated: the science of achievement through motivation

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, why not check out our guide on how to declutter your mind: eliminate worry, relieve anxiety, and stop negative thoughts.

Finally, if you want to level up your parenting skills, then check out this resource that will show you how to get your kids to listen WITHOUT yelling, nagging, or losing control.

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