Procrastinating Child: How to get your child to stop dragging their feet.

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Transcript for Procrastinating Child:

Procrastinating Child. How to get my child to stop procrastinating or dragging their feet

First, It is important to understand WHY your child is procrastinating so you can react to their procrastination appropriately. Every behavior your child does has a motive. What are they getting out of putting things off?

Today I will give you 7 reasons why your child might be procrastinating and 7 ways you can respond to the procrastination so they will stop!  Let’s get started with the simpler reason first.

REASON 1 WHY YOUR CHILD MIGHT BE PROCRASTINATING: They don’t see the importance of what you ask them to do.  Yep, it’s that simple! Your child doesn’t see the task as relevant to his or her future goals or well-being. Along these same lines, kids procrastinate because the task at hand is boring to them.  When there is little excitement in what you are asking them to do, it is difficult to get motivated about doing the task. WHAT YOU WANT TO DO: Explain it to them.  I know this is annoying, and many parents have the stance of “just do it because I said so.” Still, your child will never stop procrastinating until they find the task-relevant or important to them.  If your child feels like the task is boring, you will have to get creative with making the task more fun and engaging. (Make it a game, race, or invite others to help.)

REASON 2 WHY YOUR CHILD MIGHT BE PROCRASTINATING: They can get away with it.  “Why do something now when I can do it later?” Kids also hate doing things on your timetable. They want to do things independently because it feels like they are exercising some power, independence, and personal choice.  WHAT YOU WANT TO DO: Either pick your battle and let them do it on their own time because they will get it done eventually, OR explain to them the benefit of getting the task done early and along those same lines- give them an incentive/reward for completing the task early, OR implement a consequence for procrastination.

Procrastinating Child

Procrastinating Child

REASON 3 WHY YOUR CHILD MIGHT BE PROCRASTINATING: They are unable to get started due to distractions. These kids know what they need to do but procrastinate due to more appealing distractions.  It is difficult for these kids to prioritize the task you want them to do when other things around them are more interesting or appealing.  WHAT YOU WANT TO DO: Eliminate their distractions and even help them get started.

REASON 4 WHY YOUR CHILD MIGHT BE PROCRASTINATING: They have poor time-management skills. Many kids underestimate how long it will take them to complete the task, so they procrastinate getting started because they assume there is enough time later.  This is called having trouble with executive functioning skills.  Why your child has trouble with executive functioning skills can vary. The most common child with executive function challenges is a child with ADHD.  Some kids with ADHD don’t know the difference between what 5 minutes feels like versus 15 minutes.  They have trouble perceiving time.  WHAT YOU WANT TO DO:  If you think executive functioning challenges are your child, I suggest you have them tested by a local psychologist or learning center.  You can also talk to your child’s teachers about your concerns, and they will have a better idea if your assumptions are correct.

REASON 5 WHY YOUR CHILD MIGHT BE PROCRASTINATING:  Your child doesn’t understand how to do the task or what is expected of them.  This reason is one of the most frustrating for parents because parents think, “Why didn’t they just ask me? Or How could they not know what I expect? I have told them 10 times!”  Yet, some children refuse to ask for help and clarification.  Also, many children might hear you talking, but they simply aren’t listening and taking in the information you’re saying. WHAT YOU WANT TO DO: Explain the task to your child again.  Show them what to do- PHYSICALLY, not just with words. Also, you may want to consider using a daily schedule or a chores chart to lay out your expectations.

REASON 6 WHY YOUR CHILD MIGHT BE PROCRASTINATING: They are perfectionists and don’t like attempting tasks that they think they can’t do perfectly. Your child might feel like they don’t have the skills to get the task done correctly.  This procrastination stems from fear of failing and a lack of self-confidence.  WHAT YOU WANT TO DO: Tell your child that it is ok to make mistakes and perfect is not what you are looking for. Put a big focus on effort instead of completion. You’ll want to clarify your expectations and incentivize EFFORT above all else.  Also, break the task down into smaller, more manageable steps that can help your child feel successful.  Perfectionists tend to spiral out of control in their thinking.  One failure will lead to another, which will lead to another. Eventually, the task in front of them feels daunting and paralyzing.  Breaking the task down into tiny steps and helping your child develop a plan for tackling the problem can help them get unstuck. Also, be sure to ask your child questions to help clarify your expectations and debunk some of their internal spiraling beliefs.  Ask your child things like, “What does ‘done’ look like to you?, What do you think I expect from you? and What do you think will happen if you don’t do this perfectly?”  Lastly, be sure to praise your child for all their efforts and positive qualities. Build their self-esteem with good personality qualities like, “You are so creative, passionate, and tenacious.”

Procrastinating Child

Procrastinating Child

REASON 7 WHY YOUR CHILD MIGHT BE PROCRASTINATING: The task at hand gives them paralyzing anxiety. This can be frustrating because parents don’t understand where the anxiety is coming from. Yet, it is a real problem for your child.  WHAT YOU WANT TO DO:  I would start with the solutions from reason #6 and perfectionism.  A lot of the time, perfectionism and anxiety go hand in hand.  Beyond those suggestions, I would also help your child get started with the task.  You may also want to declare a start and end time for putting in the effort to the task.  For example, I might say, “Let’s start working on _____ at 5pm. I’ll set a timer, and you can stop at 6pm if you don’t take a break and you’re really putting in an hour of effort.”  Ultimately, your focus is to get your child to attempt the task and stop avoiding it.  Use rewards to motivate, not punishments. Point out their successes and efforts. You want to remove the overwhelm and create an environment of small achievable accomplishments.

Put some time into evaluating your child’s behaviors and figuring out WHY they are procrastinating.  After knowing the WHY, you’ll be able to respond to their behavior more effectively, making you a more impactful parent.

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