3 Ways Parents Can Help Kids Combat Procrastination

Why Do We Procrastinate?

Procrastination is something all humans have to deal with regardless of where you’re from, age or what you do for a living. Even the ancient Greeks had to deal with procrastination. Greek poet Hesiod wrote a poem in 700 BC cautioning his brother of the pitfalls of procrastination “Do not put your work off till to-morrow and the day after; for a sluggish worker does not fill his barn, nor one who puts off his work: industry makes work go well, but a man who puts off work is always at hand-grips with ruin.”

Our beliefs have a lot to do with how procrastination affects our lives. If you lack mindfulness around your work, it’s easy to start telling yourself stories that make it easy to procrastinate. It’s common to trick yourself into believing what you have to do is more difficult than it actually is, which makes getting started that much harder. Author of The Procrastination Equation, Piers Steel identified seven triggers that make a task seem worse than it is:

  • Boring
  • Frustrating
  • Difficult
  • Ambiguous
  • Unstructured
  • Not intrinsically rewarding (i.e., you don’t find the process fun)
  • Lacking in personal meaning

As humans, it’s easy for us to latch on to one of the above triggers and use it as an excuse to procrastinate. Even if we know better and understand the benefits of putting in the work, the logical side of our brain becomes weaker and weaker as soon as we give in to the desire to procrastinate.

With procrastination being a part of the human experience, it’s important for parents to realize that “forcing” or “disciplining” procrastination out of a child isn’t the best approach. In this article, we’ll look at 3 things you can introduce to your child to help them develop awareness around procrastination and internalize the importance of discipline.

  1. Use Questions To Build Awareness Around The Negatives Of Procrastination

One way you can help your child combat procrastination is by using questions to create awareness. Using questions is a less combative way of raising the importance of being disciplined while getting your child to develop their own reasons why discipline is important to them.

Questions such as “what will happen if you don’t finish on time?” and “how will you feel once you finish?” will help your child visualize both the negative and positive consequences of avoiding procrastination.

Another good question for combating procrastination is asking your child if they have everything they need to complete their task. Asking this type of question is a self-management technique that will get you taking stock of the resources you have at hand to do your best job possible. Asking your child this question gives them a chance to ask for help or additional resources to complete the task.

  1. Try The Pomodoro Technique

Introducing the Pomodoro technique to your child is a great way you can help them build good habits. Developed by productivity expert and business consultant Francesco Cirillo, the Pomodoro is an excellent technique to get the most out of your time and energy. The technique was named “Pomodoro” after a tomato-shaped timer Francesco Cirillo used to track his work as a university student. A simple timer is all you need for this technique: during the set time, you focus on nothing but the task at hand.

The Pomodoro technique is especially effective when you need to attack multiple tasks in one day. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much you can get done in three 40 minute sessions spread out over the different subjects you need to attack. Over time, the Pomodoro technique teaches your brain to stay intensely focused for short periods of time.

One of the keys to making the Pomodoro technique work is sticking to a short 5-10 minute break between each session. It’s important not to let your breaks get out of hand, which can cause the technique to fail.

The length of each Pomodoro session is completely up to the user. It may make sense to use longer 40-50 minute sessions for tasks such as writing or research and shorter 20-30 minute sessions for intense work or when you have multiple items to attack in a single day.

  1. Control Your Work Environment

Another way you can help your child fight procrastination is by raising awareness around how important their work environment is to their productivity. Even something as simple as having your phone out can make you less productive – a 2014 study published in the Social Psychology journal found that just having your phone out and insight, even if you’re not using it, can make you perform 20% worse than if you had put your phone away.

Taking control of your work environment is one of the ways you can get your subconscious mind working for you. Get your child to find ways to alter their environment to discourage


procrastination. Reduce unnecessary distractions such as extra devices, TVs or anything else that can be used to pass the time. Even something as simple as bringing order to a cluttered desk will increase focus.

Studies show that humans view our present and future selves as different people. Research from the Department of Psychology at Carleton University found that people who were more in touch with their future selves “reported fewer procrastination behaviours.” Asking questions, using the Pomodoro technique and controlling the work environment are ways you can help your child get more in touch with their future selves and limit the desire to procrastinate.

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