Procrastination is a regular problem many teens face, sometimes daily. Often parents try to fix this behavior through reward or punishment. As procrastination has underlying reasons, these fixes don't work as well as parents would hope, leaving us and our teens frustrated. Here are some tips to help your teen overcome procrastination:
Clearly define what needs to be done to your teen. When a task is not clearly laid out, your teen may procrastinate, as they are unsure of exactly what you expect. Ask your teen if they understand what is required. If not, explain it to them. If they think so, have them explain to you what they think they should be doing. Clarify any confusion.
Help your teen find their motivation. Motivation comes easily when doing something is important to the person doing it. Otherwise, it is very slow to show up and your teen will procrastinate. If your teen's teacher hasn't motivated their class about their latest algebra assignment, your teen might need another incentive to get them to the homework and do it well. Setting up a 'privileges based on completed responsibilities' can help you motivate your teen if this is the problem.
Encourage your teen to get extra help for things like school work, where your ability to help is limited. The inability to do something can cause your teen to procrastinate. Tell your teen: 'School is about learning, not knowing. If someone already knows everything, they don't need to go learn it, do they? Sometimes learning is fast, sometimes it's harder. The good thing is that there are teachers there to help you if you are up against learning a tougher topic for you.' The good thing about this strategy is that once it works for your teen, they will begin to do it more independently. If your teen is dealing with a difficult teacher and is unable to get the extra help they need, call the school and see if there are other tutor options.
Help your teen set goals. Make sure their goals are clear and come from the teen. Teens need to feel ownership of their goals in order not to procrastination and want to get the work done that is needed to achieve the goal.
Use preventative measures and address problems before they happen. Problems like perfectionism and anxiety can cause a teen to become stressed and procrastinate. Remind teens that they do not have to be perfect, that no one is. While they may be judged on their effort, doing their best is the purpose and they are always capable of doing their best.
Be understanding and supportive. Being afraid of what could happen is another reason teens procrastinate. Going out into the world and dealing with things that have outcomes you cannot control can be scary for everyone. Talk to your teen about this and role play if necessary.Quick Links: Quiz: Is your teen a slacker? | Quiz: Are you raising a resilient teen?