Your son or daughter is watching and copying everything you do. Do you put things off? If you just reluctantly nodded in agreement, then you’re modeling procrastination.
In my childhood mind’s eye, procrastinating was like Happy Meals and footie pajamas. One day
I’d grow up, and be too old for it.
But I didn’t outgrow it. My penchant for putting things off followed me into adulthood. Love, marriage, and a couple of baby carriages later—I still wait until the last nanosecond to complete tasks.
Now I have three boys and I wonder, ‘will they follow in my procrastinating footsteps?’ There’s a good chance they might—and your kids may, too—unless we stop delaying and start training. Here are a few considerations and steps.
Model good habits
You are your child’s best teacher. And, you teach what you model. Say what?
Here’s the deal: If you want to raise young men and women who don’t wait until the last minute, it’s time to stop procrastinating yourself.
Consider the why and when
It may help to stop and ask yourself why you’re delaying the inevitable all the time. Angelena Plummer, a professional life coach and counselor in Rapid City, finds that clients who struggle with procrastination are also driven by it.
“In all reality, for those people who have the issue of procrastination, it is actually a motivator,” she said. “People are simply not motivated to complete a task until it has to get done now.”
Recognize it when you think it
What comes to mind when you’re faced with a task? Do you tell yourself you’ve got plenty of time and can afford to wait because you work better under pressure? When those thoughts start to creep in, it’s a sign you’re about to needlessly postpone something. When talking to your kids about looming assignments, listen for red flags that would indicate they’re thinking the same way and help them create a reasonable schedule to follow.
Set a timer
It’s easier to begin when you know there’s an end, so set a limit on the time your family devotes to lingering chores. Set a timer for 30 minutes. A magical thing happens when you invoke a timer in your house: children eventually realize they have to make the most of their time and actually make some progress.
Maintain a balanced routine
Don’t overwhelm your child with extracurriculars. Enroll children in too many activities outside the home, and they may use procrastination to cope with their full plate.
Do things right away
Erin Larson, a Rapid City mother of three says, “I take care of things the minute I know about or think of them.”
Taking care of business on the spot leaves no room for procrastination. You’ve just accomplished what needed to be done.
Make a list
Local blogger, Sarah Koontz regularly compiles two mental lists: one that itemizes things she must do and another that includes all the things she wants to do.
“I am not allowed to do the things I want to do until the things I need to do are complete,” said the Rapid City mother of two. “The things I want to do always motivate me to complete the things I need to do.”
No more rescuing
Hold children accountable if they procrastinate.
“If a child agrees to a task and agrees it will be done by a specific time, I hold that child to it,” says Heidi Petry, a Rapid City mom of five.
When children don’t follow through, parents must follow through with the consequences. Maybe it’s lost screen time or a missed play date. Whatever penalty you promise, stick with it.