We hear it all too often – “I’ll do my chores later!” – “I’ll clean my room tomorrow!” – “But it’s not due until next week!”, procrastination. Even as adults, we tend to do it. How can you encourage your child not to procrastinate? If we encourage this early on, maybe they will have a more productive adulthood. We can only try, right? Give it our all to make their future the best possible future we can provide. In the story “Pokey and the Spelling Test”, from the amazing book 7 Habits of Happy Kids by Sean Convey, Pokey procrastinated so much that he ended up failing the spelling test. Ms. Hoot let him retake the test if he could put work first, then play. Pokey did just that! There are many encouraging ways to help improve our children’s lives, increase their resilience, and invest in themselves to take control. These four helpful tips are easy for kids to understand and even better – to learn!
Make It Easy
Now, I know we said in a previous post to get the hardest tasks done first – then play, but there are some exceptions! Especially when this is the first lesson for your child on how not to procrastinate. It’s best to start easy! Children can get overwhelmed when they are learning new things. Start simple with making the bed every morning after they wake up. Giving them a simple task to complete at the first of the day will give them a small sense of pride. Now they have already accomplished their first task of the day! Once you’ve got the ball rolling, continue adding new tasks with each new week.
Teach Your Child Self-Compassion
It’s ok to forgive yourself. When you child realizes that he procrastinated and did not get a task done, he may not feel good about himself. He may self-criticize and beat himself over it. The solution is not to make him feel worse. Leave the negative emotions at the door! Help him understand to be kind to himself, as he would treat his own best friend. Children will be able to learn the point of not procrastinating is so they can simply make their lives better. Forgiving yourself is a luxury not a lot of people can do. The is a great lesson to teach early on so your child has a good understanding of it.
Sometimes A “Nudge” Is All They Need
There are going to be times that some tasks may seem to overwhelm your child, particularly longer ones. No matter what task needs to be done, the first fifteen minutes – takes fifteen minutes. Encourage him to take baby steps. Mini-goals is a great way to nudge your child achieve the task at hand. A good example is to break-up the time frame. Instead of doing all 20 minutes of the task, break it up into five-minute increments. When he reaches each milestone, it can give him a mood booster, encouraging him to more likely finish the task.
Looking Into The Future
This is a fun way to help your child see that procrastination just leads to more work! Have your child “look into the future” and see what now is a small pile of toys, how it would look in a few days. They will probably say it has grown to a HUGE pile of toys. Explain the solution: rather than wait and wait until the task is very big and overwhelming and would take hours to clean up, take five minutes now and put the small pile toys back where they belong. You may even get one of the “AHA!” moments when they realize, “Wow, my parents are right!”. I know, hard to believe!
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