The Kaizen Method to Counter Laziness in Children

· September 15, 2017

We tend to be more tolerant of laziness with children than with adults. Still, there comes a time when we worry about children’s lack of activity, which is especially the case with teenagers. That’s why today we want to talk about the Kaizen Method, a Japanese recipe for cultivating a greater work ethic in children.

Laziness can get in the way of doing household chores, cleaning one’s room or even doing homework. Children may even feel lazy when it comes to activities they should enjoy. They often lack motivation or procrastinate on things they should do without thinking twice about.

Why are kids lazy? How can we help them turn this laziness into energy? The Kaizen Method is a Japanese technique that is both effective and can be applied in most situations.

How Does the Kaizen Method Work?

We have already seen how lazy children act. They take a long time with daily activities, math problems, or a simple favor for their mother. They are also too lazy to wake up early or brush their teeth, let alone put away their toys. For all of these situations we have this one-minute principle, and we’ll explain how it works below.

The Kaizen Method, or one-minute principle, works in a positive way. In Japanese, the name of the technique means the wisdom to change. It is considered a very effective method for overcoming laziness and apathy. In general it aims for us not to leave things unfinished and to be more determined in the times when we are working on a certain task.

Fortunately, this method is just as effective for kids as it is for adults, which is why it could help us improve as well if we need to. The process of achieving this is as follows:

The Method

  • With consistency and dedication we can schedule a daily task, which should be done at the same time every day. For this, we set a stopwatch for one minute, setting time aside just for accomplishing a goal. Since they only have one minute, the child cannot complain about the activity they are being asked to do. The clock ticking uses time to motivate them and tells them to hurry.
  • Remember that the scheduled task should be the same every day, at the same time. Meaning that if it’s hard for them to organize their toys, every day this will be on their schedule. For one minute they will focus on picking up their mess.
  • It is important to remain constant, and to stay with them while they are completing the task. Also, don’t forget to really set the clock for one minute. This is the time they have to complete it to ensure they will do it promptly.
  • The Kaizen Method is effective for children because they internalize it and see it as a game. It is fun to race the clock and finish by the expected time. We’re not asking for much, just that they dedicate 60 seconds to a task.
  • In the case of homework, the one-minute rule is applied in steps. One minute for this problem, one to read this section, another to color in this map. Timing every job allows better concentration and makes it possible to minimize the time spent on work.
  • When they get used to it, they’ll do it without having to be pressured, and time might not even matter to them and they’ll automatically do it. Once we notice improvement we can increase the time to 5 minutes and later on, 10. Soon, it will become a habit and they will not be controlled by laziness.

Origin of the Kaizen Method

The Japanese man Masaaki Imai created this technique taking the reasons we are lazy into account. Even though it applies to adults too, in the case of children, they try to avoid complex tasks from the start. They also face laziness when they know the activity they have to do may take a long time.

Lacking motivation and thinking they are incapable of successfully completing it also contributes to them getting behind on their work. Sometimes the lack of consequences is the main reason their laziness exists. If we are not firm in making sure they do something, and nothing is going to happen if they don’t do it, they will find ways to get out of it.

Masaaki Imai believes the process of gradual adaptation creates very ingrained habits. As the name of the method suggests, the idea is to gain inner knowledge in order to change. At the same time, change doesn’t have to take a lot of effort in order for you to stay motivated and resilient.

Cover image courtesy of kwanchaichaiudom.