Stop your child procrastinating over homework

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Procrastination - we’re all guilty of it in some form or another. I believe it is human nature to procrastinate to some extent. In fact, if there was a Bachelor of Procrastination - I’d already have the certificate on my wall! I found this website very interesting as we consider how our children tackle tasks put in front of them.  I've also summarised the main points below.

Ideas for Coping with Our Children Who Procrastinate

Dealing with your child’s procrastination can be fraught with frustration. It seems that we can deal with procrastination best by identifying personality traits - the Perfectionist and the Dreamer, the Worrier and the Crisis Maker, the Deifier and the Over-doer. You will recognise the traits your children best fit.

Is your child a Perfectionist?

Perfectionists are very detail-oriented, and seldom satisfied with their work. As a result they have great difficulty completing assignments. They have an enormous need to get it "just right," and are easily upset with their mistakes.

Parents can help these children understand the difference between "perfect" and "excellent" or "very good." They also need help setting time limits. Since they never think anything they do is "good enough," they never finish trying to make it perfect. The Perfectionist has a difficult time putting things in perspective -- they might think that their entire academic future rests on the completion of a single assignment.

Is your child a Dreamer?

Dreamers tend to be laid back, mellow kids who'd rather "hang out" than "get going." They tend not to think about the details and deadlines associated with schoolwork. They may get excited about "the idea" of a project or assignment, but often fail to follow through

Since Dreamers aren't great at timing, parents can help them estimate how long it will take to complete a project, then have them check their own estimates against what actually happens. A Dreamer might think it will take an hour to finish an assignment, only to discover at 9 p.m. on a Sunday night that the project has taken 8 hours and isn't done yet! Help the Dreamer differentiate between trying and doing.

Is your child a Worrier?

Worriers maximize every problem, and minimize their own abilities. They have difficulty leaving their "comfort zone". They will worry and avoid an assignment rather than tackle it head-on.

Often these children have their fears discounted by well-meaning parents and teachers who simply respond with, "Of course you can do it!" A better approach is to help your child make compound sentences out of "I can't." If she says, "I can't finish this math homework", help her learn to add: "…but I can talk to my friend about how she got it done." This is an excellent way to help a Worrier break down something that seems huge into manageable parts.

Is your child a Crisis Maker?

The Crisis Maker likes to live on the edge and thrives in a perceived “emergency." Crisis provides motivation, so Crisis Makers will frequently choose to wait until the last minute to meet deadlines. They don't like to tackle projects in pieces, over time. They prefer to do it all at once, with a mad dash to the finish line.

 Rather than fight your child's need for an adrenalin rush to get started, use it as a motivator. Create "fake" deadlines so the work gets done in a more timely fashion, with less chaos in the household. For example, set the deadline a day early. This way, you are respecting who your child is, but also expecting him to understand that you can't stop working on the computer all of a sudden, so that he can hop online to do last-minute research. Crisis Makers love challenges, so make it a game with a prize: "If you get your project finished by tomorrow we'll have time to go rollerblading."

Is your child a Defier?

The Defier can be either active or passive. The active Defier can be nasty, sarcastic and argumentative and will put up a huge fight when it comes to getting homework done. The passive Defier can be sarcastic and use delaying tactics

Aim for your child to remain part of the family team or class, versus apart from it (exactly the opposite of what Defiers expect, since they are often isolated for their behaviour). Don't get pulled into a tug-of-war with a Defier. Instead, drop the rope by agreeing with her objections, then helping to identify consequences ("Yes, it may be stupid to have to do this project, I can see your point. But you're going to get a zero if you choose not to do the work, so you might want to go ahead and just get it done.") It's often best to be indirect with a Defier.

Is your child an Over-Doer?

The Over-doers are people-pleasers who often put in too much work on their assignments. They say yes to too many things, and then procrastinate because they feel overwhelmed with too much on their plate. Procrastination is their way of saying no. They are often kids who can't focus on priorities because they have too many activities or friends.

They need help from parents to establish clear priorities ("It's going to be hard to finish your project and then make it to the soccer game this afternoon. Which is more important?"). They also need help understanding that setting limits and saying no is not the same as being unkind or letting people down ("Your soccer coach will understand if you miss the game today. He knows schoolwork comes first, sports second.")

If you have any questions about your child, then please do not hesitate to ask. 

It is not too late to start, either to prepare for the up and coming exams and tests or to get ready for 2015 – give us a call and chat through your issues. We are here to help.

Posted on 06/05/2015

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