“I will do it tonight/tomorrow/next week.”
It’s the sentence that can drive you the parent crazy. Especially if it has been uttered so many times you lost count. And you know it’s not going to happen.
Children procrastinate for different reasons.
1 Learning Problems Might Lead To Procrastination
Some children have certain conditions or learning problems that hinder them from completing what they need to do e.g. dyslexia or slow development; they keep postponing school work because it causes them so much stress and distress, some of them just do not know how to deal with it.
Guess what the main issue is when it comes to learning problems? Yup, you’re right. The child is usually not the issue. It’s the PARENTS.
More often than not, a parent finds it really hard to come to terms with the possibility of his or her child needing help to learn, they go into denial, an understandable position. It’s difficult to accept that your child might be different. You wonder: Whose fault is it that he’s like this? Did I not teach him right? Is he dumb? And so on.
2 Learning Problems Is Nobody’s Fault
A child with learning problems is nobody’s fault. There are many children who have learning problems despite being born smart. There are children who were called ‘dumb’ but have become exceptionally successful adults. Raising humanity is much more than who is smart and who isn’t. A child is a gift no matter what. It’s who you become in the process of raising the child that God has entrusted you with. Labeling words like ‘smart’ and ‘dumb’ are created by mankind that reduces children as human beings.
Learning problems is one of the things you need to watch out for when it comes to procrastination. Else, you might find yourself carrying the burden of guilt years later, for not putting in effort to sort things out for your child, at a crucial period when all they genuinely need is a parent who believes in them, who understands that in spite of all serious effort they put in, they are still unable to do what appears to be simple work for many others. Please remember that many children with learning problems are smart children. It’s just that the way things are taught might not suit their needs.
3 No Learning Problems, But My Child Procrastinates Anyway
School work – You know that moment when the smart kids in class smiled knowingly while you just stared at the new assignment dumbfounded, thinking, “How stupid I am.” You pushed it into your schoolbag and decided at a subconscious level that you’ll conveniently forget about it. . . till the teacher asked for it the following week.
We all know that awful sinking feeling of not having the slightest idea how and where to start. Now, put yourself in your child’s shoes. Your child might be intimidated by fear or incompetence if the assignment has certain parts that he isn’t sure what to do with. Help him. Start with something that’s doable.
Especially for younger children, instead of telling them to break the assignment down into smaller steps, SHOW them how, and then identify the parts which they can do, that leads to the part which they cannot do, one baby step at a time.
4 Be Fair, Be Supportive
Create a safe environment for your child to tell the truth. Some kids know they are in trouble in school. They know they couldn’t do it, but are just terrified to tell the truth, especially if telling the truth results in dire consequences, like a parent blowing up when a child says for the tenth time, “I am still stuck with this Math problem.”
Naturally a rational parent would argue, “If you do not face the problem today, it will only become bigger tomorrow/next week/next year.” But unlike adults, children are less able to think far ahead. Children in general could only relate to short-term pain and pleasure. As parents, we tend to make assumptions and get upset with what appears to be their lack of commitment in failing to do what they promised to do, without digging deeper.
A solution may be as simple as being there to show your moral support. There are cases where parents have made a difference just by sitting quietly next to a child who’s completing his assignment. Just because a child is stuck doesn’t necessarily mean you have to hold his hand all the time. It could be that all he needs is extra time to process what needs to be done.
5 How About Chores?
It can be really frustrating when you have to keep reminding your child endlessly about tidying up, washing up and the lot. Think of consequences. What are the consequences of these chores not done? Some parents just couldn’t stand the sight of dirty clothes on the floor or filthy bathrooms, they end up picking up the dirty clothes and scrubbing the bathrooms themselves. If this is you, try something else. Think of a new strategy. Like changing the tone of your voice to express your displeasure. Be firm about it. Together with raised eyebrows, of course.
6 “Sorry, I forgot.”
Some children did not follow up what they are supposed to do simply because they forgot all about it. This is where we need to look into habits. A long-term strategy for household chores is routines: Set a regular time to do the tidying and cleaning. There might be resistance in the beginning, but over time, it will become second nature. Nobody will complain any more especially if the distractions are removed and they know nobody can do anything else until everything is done.
7 Check Your Expectations
Unrealistic expectations do have an impact on children as much as realistic ones. As a rule of thumb, see if what you expect of your child is reasonable enough. Unrealistic expectations might push a child into thinking it’s not even worth his or her effort to try. For instance, do you expect your child to get her flying kick right after only a few karate lessons? If you are a perfectionist, the child might begin to think: Why should I even try, when I know that I’m never going to be good enough? In the end, the child might lose interest in the subject altogether. Teach your child that practice makes better, not perfect.
A child might refuse to get work done out of defiance but honestly, this is rare. Most kids do want to please their parents and if that means completing assignments and chores on time, it is very likely they do have the intention to do it, although it might have slipped their mind to do it. Not all kids are the same. Some kids are motivated to change when they experience negative consequences of procrastinating. Some get a sense of fulfilment when they succeed to accomplish something. If what you do now doesn’t work, don’t give up. Your child is growing up, and over time, things will fall into place.