The word “lazy” can be loaded. It can be used as an insult or it can be used to describe a lack of actions without proper context. Because of this, it has negative connotations with the over-simplification of behaviors.

According to the Cambridge dictionary, the definition of lazy is “not willing to work or use any effort.” The Merrium-Webster dictionary’s definition of lazy is:

“a: disinclined to activity or exertion: not energetic or vigorous

b: encouraging inactivity or indolence

2: moving slowly: Sluggish

Did you know stereotypical “lazy” behaviors can be a sign of an underlying issue? Our bodies are very attuned to our minds and the world around us. This feeling of being sluggish, having decreased energy, or having low motivation is just our body’s way of communicating something is going on.

“Laziness”-What could it be?

-Learning Disorder: If a child consistently does not want to do homework, then learn why they don’t. Is this person consistently not feeling like doing a certain type of homework? Do they have trouble with certain topics or take too long doing subjects? If you suspect your child or even you may have a learning disorder then it is important to get evaluated. Even adults can benefit from late evaluations.  Learning and accommodations doesn’t stop once we graduate!

-Knowledge is beyond current grade level: When a student’s knowledge in a subject matter is beyond their grade’s expectations, the work can sometimes feel boring. When certain children run into this issue long enough, they may be resistant to do the work because it is not challenging enough. If you suspect this may be a problem, then you can talk to your child’s teachers and even school social workers to come up with a plan to support them as students.

Autism: Autism is marked by persistent difficulties with social communications and interactions. It also has limited and repetitive patterns of behaviors, interests, or activities. These difficulties and restrictions cause a significant impairment in social or occupational functioning. If someone with Autism is not naturally interested in a topic, or a topic is not their own special interest or activities, this could be cognitively difficult for that person to switch their attention to something else. Without familiar eyes, this can be misinterpreted as other issues including “laziness,” but this is actually not the case. If you want to learn more about this issue then you can check out the website, where they provide resources on how to respond to common executive functioning problems in Autism.

-ADHD: This is an impairment in executive functioning skills (working memory, impulse control, organization, time management, problem solving, remembering details). According to the DSM V (diagnostic manual), the impairment of executive functioning skills can result in common ADHD issues including:

Often has difficulty sustaining attention in tasks or play activities

Often does not follow through on instructions and fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in

the workplace.

Often has difficulty organizing tasks and activities

Often avoids, dislikes, or is reluctant to engage in tasks that require sustained mental effort.

Often forgetful in daily activities

When a person has a cognitive deficit it makes doing these tasks a lot more difficult than the average person, they will be more likely to avoid these tasks. offers several resources to support people with ADHD and other neurological and learning issues; even webinars!

-Depressive Disorders: According to the DSM V, several depressive disorders have symptoms that would be mistaken as laziness.  

Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all activities most of the day…”  

Insomnia or hypersomnia– This is a lack of sleep or having poor sleep quality which will ultimately affect someone’s daily functioning. 

Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day

Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness…

These symptoms can make it almost physically impossible to have a reasonable amount of energy to be productive. These symptoms can also affect a person’s cognitive functioning (forgetfulness, brain fog, indecision, etc.). When a person notices these feelings or symptoms enough times, it will discourage or create anxiety in a person and ultimately lead to a lack of activity. In order to combat this depression fatigue, it takes a creative and holistic set of responses. provides ways to address 4 main areas in life.

Anxiety Disorders: When marked with continuous fear or anxiety, people will often respond by avoiding the trigger or shutting down. Constant worry can sometimes make a body feel overloaded. As a result, they can be easily fatigued or have difficulty with sleep, which still creates fatigue in the daytime. Sometimes fatigue in anxiety can really be a paralyzing effect that our bodies have in response to anxiety. If you want to learn more about this effect or how to respond to it then you check out

-Sleeping disorders: If someone has a sleeping disorder, they are most likely operating on little sleep, poor quality sleep,and with an inconsistent sleep routine. Disruptions in our sleep can create significant interruption in functioning. Some people with sleep disturbances report being familiar with their level of “normal” but oftentimes this normal includes a decrease in energy execution of some type. Either way, if these people are judged from first impressions or without further understanding, they may seem “lazy” or uninterested in socially interacting with others. If you suspect this to be happening to you or another person then it is important to see your/their general practitioner.

Take away:

Lazy has many negative connotations, regardless if it is being applied to a child or an adult. This word can be harmful to use due to perpetuating negative stereotypes. If you are noticing any of these behaviors from your child or student, try to keep this article in mind. There might be other things going on below the surface.

With adults, also remember we don’t know what is really going on with someone’s life, so judgment isn’t helpful. If we catch ourselves saying to ourselves or out loud that we are being lazy, pause for a moment and think about what’s really going on, and own that instead! Being real and voicing our experiences helps break the stigma. If someone does not fall into these categories or other health issues, then sometimes we just have to remember that being a human is tiring! Let’s give each other a break!

If you would like to learn how to give yourself or others a break, then check out how you could work with

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