Procrastination is a problem for some children. It seems as if they have no sense of urgency. They won't come when called, they don't get ready to go places on time and they fail to complete schoolwork by the deadline. If left unaddressed, procrastination carries over into adulthood and hinders job performance and social relationships. Parents can take steps to correct procrastination problems while children are still young.
Set a good example. Demonstrate timeliness at home. Talk with your children about daily events at work where punctuality brings rewards.
Instill a sense of time in young children. Use contests. For example, "Race you to the door," and "Let's see who can be dressed and ready to leave first." Establish rules to help children prioritize. For example, "Before you go outside to play, you must make your bed."
Analyze the cause. Talk to and watch children to determine the reason for procrastination. Children often feel a task is too difficult or time-consuming. Sometimes children simply fear failure.
Jump start the action. For difficult tasks, pitch in and help with the initial work. Withdraw assistance as the child carries out the remainder of the work.
Establish a timeline. Help children estimate how much time will be required for task completion. Discuss how the task can be split into stages and the time requirement for each. Assist in identifying specific times for completion of each stage.
Counter fears of failure. Talk to children about how new tasks present new opportunities to learn. Explain that no one is perfect. It is unrealistic to expect perfection from others or ourselves.
Address consequences. If the consequences of procrastination are negative, articulate them. For example, "You only had 30 minutes at the park because you were slow in leaving the house," or "You only received half credit on your school project because you turned it in after the due date." If children exhibit punctuality, arrange for positive consequences. "You're ready early. Since we have some extra time, let's stop for ice cream."