Procrastination is the proclivity to put off tasks or delay an action which may require immediate attention. Seemingly harmless in the beginning, it has been a major hindrance to the academic and personal growth of the child if left unchecked. Let’s talk about how to help your child overcome procrastination.
In present times, a child is encouraged to participate in numerous academic, extra-curricular and social activities to ensure he stays at the top of the game always. With so much at hand, a child sometimes due to lack of interest or skill and sometimes due to fear of failure, begins to avoid or procrastinate. This selective avoidance in no time becomes a natural disposition of the child where he begins to put off almost any task set to him.
Constant procrastination can lead to anxiety in children due to the piled-up tasks, which in turn affects their confidence when they cannot complete the task within the stipulated time. This continuous cycle of deferment and then self-doubt can harm their performance and productivity levels in all spheres of life. Therefore, it is important to address the issue right at the start and make sure we don’t burden them too much, too soon.
Here are some ways we can help the children:
1) Set An Example
The first step you can take to teach your children responsibility is to set an example by finishing all your work – professional or household – on time. If your children see you slacking off every now and then, they will perceive this as normal behaviour and will subconsciously begin to incorporate this laid-back behaviour into their daily life too.
How parents act and behave leaves a lasting impact on their children, who tend to develop behavioural patterns similar to what they see in their surroundings.
2) Instil A Sense Of Responsibility
Children are unlikely to respond to authoritative commands and immediately label them as daunting tasks. Parents often tend to make this mistake. Sentences such as “do your homework” or “finish your project right now” often incite a negative response from children – frowning, nagging, or saying no outright. Instead, allow your children to set their own pace and finish the job on time.
Instil a sense of responsibility and ownership when it comes to tasks such as doing their homework, helping-out in household chores or maintaining their rooms. As soon as the tasks become personal to them, they will carry them out with much more initiative and enthusiasm. They will learn self-regulation and soon be able to finish off undertaken tasks without any need for constant oversight. This is one of the best tips on how to help your child overcome procrastination.
3) Allow Your Child To Face The Consequences Of Their Actions
If you, as a parent, keep safeguarding your children from the consequences of their delayed work or laziness, they will soon become comfortable with backlogging important tasks.
For example, doing your children’s project at the last moment because they have failed to do so themselves in time, gives children the notion that even in the worst-case scenario, they will not have to own up to their mistakes as their parents will take care of the consequences.
4) Use Motivation And Reward Systems
Use classic motivation and reward systems to keep your children on track. Let your child know that there are repercussions to not finishing the tasks on time and rewards for finishing them. For example, not completing the homework on time means less time to play with their friends, while finishing the project on time for submission deserves a favourite pastry for dessert.
In instances when your child does not perform the assigned task on time and there are no repercussions to it, it will lead to the reduction of importance associated with that task. On the other hand, if there are reasonable consequences with the incompletion of a task, they will be more likely to understand the value of the assignment and finish it off in due time.
When they do this, it is also necessary to reward your child with healthy words of appreciation and give them that deserved a pat on the back. This will motivate them to perform well in future tasks too. This is one of the best tips on how to help your child overcome procrastination.
5) Teach Them To “Just Get Started
“The secret of getting ahead is getting started”- Mark Twain.
More often than not, tasks get delayed or go unfinished because that little “push” to get started is missing. To counter this problem, a lot of people rely on other people to give them that push. However, an intrinsic motivation to start and finish tasks is naturally the most effective in becoming productive.
Children should be taught that no matter how big or small a task is, the key to getting it done is by simply starting it. Putting chores off on the back burner until the last minute will only produce sub-par results at best. And, starting soon with a project at hand is as good as half done!
Parents also need to understand the importance of social and emotional learning.
6) Teach Them To Divide Work Into Chunks
Huge projects and assignments can seem daunting to children at first and can demoralize them to start work. A trick to combat this is by teaching them how to break any sizeable piece of work into smaller, achievable, and comprehensible chunks.
For example, let’s say your child has to make a 3D model of a working volcano.
So, Step 1 would be to plan the design and draw it on a rough paper;
Step 2 would be to assemble all the supplies such as paper, paints, glue, etc; and so on. Successfully learning how to divide work into chunks will also teach them how to manage time.
Your child will then feel confident with every passing milestone and will also be able to use this technique in other tasks such as preparing for exams, participating in a tournament, packing bags for a vacation, etc. This is one of the best tips on how to help your child overcome procrastination.
7) Teach The Importance Of Time Management
“Either you run the day or the day runs you”- Jim Rohn.
The essential skill that everyone must be adept at is time management. It is the key to achieve all goals and ambitions. The most successful people of the world are unanimous that effective time management is the basic necessity to function in any high-power job. Children tend to over-estimate the time that they have ultimately led to the late and untimely completion of work.
Once children realise the fleeting nature of time, they will no longer waste it or take it for granted and will be motivated to complete their work in a timely manner. This will make them valuable time and be punctual for both personal and professional appointments.
8) Help Them Reduce The Distractions
Children get very easily distracted by different things especially when they’re supposed to be studying or helping with household chores. It is important to make them realise the disadvantages of giving-in to such distractions (for instance, staying up late at night to finish the lesson) and the importance of staying focused. It may, however, be helpful to add that “not doing something” is sometimes as important as “doing something”. For example, not watching TV for more than 30 minutes a day is as important as studying for 2 hours a day. This is one of the best tips on how to help your child overcome procrastination.
Children by nature are playful and will attempt to dawdle or shelf-off activities that do not captivate them or give them immediate joy, every chance they get. However, as adults and caregivers, it falls on us to steer them clear of this labyrinth and keep them focused on the project at hand.