Help them feel better about getting things done.
Underneath the frustration, your child's procrastination probably makes you feel a bit powerless, right? You want to help them overcome this bad habit that you know will hold them back in life, but you don't have the energy to go to war over it constantly.
What's a frazzled and frustrated parent to do?
If you're like most parents, you see your child's procrastination as an act of deliberate defiance. But studies show there is much more to procrastination than just self-indulgence. Timothy Pychyl a professor at Carelton University found that procrastination is actually an emotional strategy for dealing with stress — particularly anxiety.
So, now that you understand that there's more to your child's procrastination than meets the eye, how can you help your kiddo kick the habit? Here are 5 smart strategies:
1. Identify your child's most tempting distractions
Clever researchers in Calgary helped develop software that delayed the loading of your favorite procrastination website for 15 seconds. As a result, procrastination became less pleasurable and deterred students from delaying their tasks. Try implementing a similar strategy in your home by unplugging the Wi-Fi during homework time and removing devices (phone, iPad, etc.) from the room. A distraction-free environment helps your child keep their focus on track, whether doing homework or spending time with the family.
2. Teach emotional regulation
A recent study found that resisting procrastination requires that we first become aware of our emotions. Only then can we override our 'fight or flight' response to the task at hand. This allows us to practice using "mindfulness tools" instead, such as diaphragmatic breathing, which helps us stay present and remain focused on what needs addressing.
The Dali Lama said, "If every eight-year-old is taught meditation, we will eliminate violence in the world in one generation." Teaching your child "mindfulness meditation" helps them on so many levels. When we become mindful of the controlled chaos in our lives... when we center our thoughts and know we're enough... we function from a place of love, and fear is tranmuted. Mindfulness meditation allows our kids to exhibit their best selves.
3. Set smaller goals
A big project at school or at home can seem overwhelming, even for adults, so imagine how a child might feel. Try showing your child how to break their large assignments into smaller chunks, this will help ease the stress and pressure.
4. Connect their goals to privileges
Allow your children to watch TV or browse the internet after their homework is complete (and ONLY then). George M. Kapalka, author of Parenting-Your Out of Control Child believes this helps your child learn that privileges are a result of responsible behavior.
5. Help them master time management
Our kids don't know how to organize and manage their time successfully. It's our job to teach them how to work efficiently. Have your kids write down their task and cross out completed one's as they get them done. This helps kids feel accomplished and boosts their self-esteem. Parents can start as young as age two or three, by rewarding your children with stickers or outings. Remember, it's always a plus if you can make being responsible fun.
Implementing these five tools in your home helps your children culivate the skills needed to minimize procrastination. The earlier you start using these strategies, the easier it is for the entire family to get things done and enjoy time spent together.
Brent Berman has a holistic psychotherapy practice in Jupiter, FL. He believes in healing the world one smile at a time.