As adults, we constantly have distractions thrown our way. From the internet and social media to our jobs, friends, and family, something is always vying for our attention. Although I consider myself to be a responsible adult, I still struggle with staying on task when my phone is in arms reach. With three littles of my own, I can only imagine how hard it is for a child who is learning self-discipline to stay focused on accomplishing a duty or task. If you want to help your child stop procrastinating, you will have to put yourself in their shoes.
Helping your child stop procrastinating will require you to exercise patience and compassion. If you struggle with procrastination yourself, you may want to consider learning a few time management strategies first. Wasting time is a bad habit, but with hard work and discipline, procrastination can be reversed for you and your child.
Procrastination is a bad habit that has affected everyone at least once. Procrastination is defined as intentionally delaying or postponing something with a deadline. Although procrastinating in a common problem for many adults, procrastinating should not be normalized or taken lightly. In fact, procrastinating important responsibilities may be caused by a deeper problem.
The difference between procrastination and a procrastinator is how often a person decides to put off their responsibilities. If you notice your child is procrastinating, now is the best time to pinpoint the problem and help them to overcome those habits before they get worse.
As a parent, watching your child procrastinate can be frustrating. Nagging, complaining, and yelling are the least effective ways of getting your child to stop procrastinating. Instead, determine why they are procrastinating, and help them to overcome those obstacles.
Your child may be procrastinating because he or she:
- Doesn’t understand what is expected of them
- Knows there are no consequences for procrastinating
- Doesn’t understand the importance of finishing
- Feels they have something better or more important to do
Although procrastination is very common in kids, you can help your child to procrastinate less. Explain to your child why they shouldn’t procrastinate in a way they will understand. Explain to them using easy to understand examples such as:
“If you don’t complete your homework now, you will still have to do it later.”
“If you wait to wash the dishes now, the dishes will continue to accumulate and you will have more work to do later.”
The more your child practices to not procrastinate, the less likely he or she is to procrastinate. As parents, our job is to raise healthy children to become responsible adults. It may require a lot of patience now, but your child will thank you for it in the future.
5 Daily Strategies to Help Your Child Stop Procrastinating
1. Reward, don’t punish. The amazing thing about children is that they respond well to being rewarded. Whether you give a piece of candy, a sticker, or cash, giving rewards can help you to teach your child, pre-teen, or teenager anything from potty training and cleaning their room to writing an essay and getting good grades.
As you help your child to stop procrastinating, shamelessly offer them rewards for completing a task. Explain to them the importance of completing their responsibilities and reward them for doing so. Verbally praise your child for a job well done. In the beginning, they may only complete the task for a reward, but over time, they will learn that accomplishing a job is better than procrastinating against it.
2. Provide simple reminders. Throughout the day I keep two planners, an ongoing list, and several alarms on my phone to help me stay focused and on task. I set simple reminders for myself to ensure I don’t forget any of my responsibilities. If your child is having a hard time getting started or finishing simple tasks, give them simple reminders as to what they need to do and be doing.
When it comes to the temptation to procrastinate, getting started can often be the most stressful part. Offer words of affirmation to encourage them to start and give them simple reminders as they work until the task is complete. Simple, consistent reminders can help them to stay focused when they easily get distracted by something else.
3. Give him or her small, easy jobs to complete. To prevent procrastination, designate small simple daily tasks for your child to complete. Many people procrastinate due to feeling overwhelmed about the entirety of the task. “Clean your room” may seem like a big task to a small child, even though it seems minuscule to you. Helping your child accomplish small easy tasks often can help to build their confidence to accomplish bigger tasks.
Consider your child’s age and keep realistic expectations of him or her. When he or she completes a task, acknowledge their accomplishment. Small simple tasks to practice may include:
- Putting your backpack away after coming home from school
- Hanging up your wet towel immediately after a shower
- Putting your plate in the sink immediately after eating dinner
4. Change your techniques as your child changes and evolves. Just as you grow and get better over time, your children do too. Monitor their improvements and adjust your strategies and techniques to reflect their progress. Continue to monitor their daily progress, but make adjustments as you go along. After a month or two, they may only require one daily reminder to clean their room a day instead of three.
5. Model positive behavior. You have to practice the habits you want your child to emulate. When learning something new, the best way to teach a child how to do something is to allow them to watch you do it. How do you think a toddler learns to walk, talk, and eat? By watching and observing the people around him! Children are very intelligent, and they will subconsciously mimic more of your habits than you think they do. If you don’t want your child to be a procrastinator, don’t procrastinate 😉 .
I hope these tips help!