Let's keep it real: Everyone procrastinates. Even the most accomplished individuals fall into this trap and miss deadlines which means that your child will inevitably find themselves struggling with procrastination. Procrastination is especially relevant to us as we live in the digital age, where technology can be a source of great distraction.
Procrastination (Latin “procrastinatus”)
pro, meaning "forward," and crastinus, meaning "of tomorrow”
So how can we help our children deal with it? Here are 10 ways you can help your child with procrastination.
Encourage your child to take a Break
First of all, procrastination is not necessarily a sign of laziness or absent-mindedness, and it can simply be a sign that your child has exhausted their mental capacities. Sitting any longer at the study table will be counterproductive.
Instead of getting distracted and feeling guilty about it, why not give them a 10-minute break before going back to their studies? Take a power nap for 10-20 minutes to refresh their bodies and minds.
Taking breaks helps to prevent study fatigue. You don’t want your child to end up hating the subject, despairing whenever it comes to studying for tests or pretending to study when procrastinating. Adequate rest also improves your child’s attention span and boosts motivation.
Motivate them to succeed
Speaking of motivation, did you know that positive reinforcement is a sure-fire way to keep children engaged with their studies?
There are so many motivation methods you can try. For example:
Setting up a point system for rewards
Using encouraging/uplifting words
Helping your child visualize the benefits of doing well for their exams
Getting them to realize how fun and relatable the subject can be
I’ve even seen parents play motivational shows for their kids, and they’ve seen positive changes in how their child approaches study time. Indeed, nothing beats seeing your child excited to study and do well for their exams. We encourage all parents to try their hand at motivating their child to succeed too!
“Throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought could never be yours.”
– Dale Carnegie, Self-Improvement Writer
Set firm deadlines
Studying without a time limit can be highly unproductive as students often procrastinate and lose track of time. When they start taking their studies seriously in a panic, it will be too late.
Parents can help by setting a goal, deadline and reward for their children. For example, “Finish memorizing this theory by lunchtime, I will test you. If you get it right, I will make (favourite meal) for dinner.”
It also helps to be realistic and allow your child to take breaks, especially for more complicated topics that might take longer to understand.
Preparing the study area is almost as important as studying itself. What you surround yourself with can distract you or enhance your learning.
Through trial and error, parents should discover what works best. Generally, parents confiscate their child’s phones during study time, sit nearby to oversee their revision, and only allow textbooks and assessment books in the study room.
Some students are exceptions to this rule, and that is fantastic. If it works, don’t change a thing.
Perhaps your child:
learns better with music playing in the background
uses bright stickers, coloured pencils and highlighters to mark their books
needs to have a bowl of snacks beside them as they study
likes to take notes with their phone
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for every child. We encourage parents to experiment with their children and create a study environment that helps them keep their focus.
Study at their ‘best’, not at their ‘worst’
Is your child more alert in the morning or night? Perhaps they study more efficiently after a satisfying meal. Or maybe they need to do some light exercise to refresh their mind before studying.
Children should never study when sleepy or exhausted, as they will increase their chances of procrastinating. So if your child is constantly yawning, don’t force them to hunker down over books. Even if they don’t procrastinate, their concentration level will be affected, and it will be hard for them to absorb information.
Since your child may not know how to listen to their bodies, it is up to parents to observe for signs of fatigue and communicate with them to figure out the best time to concentrate on their studies.
Show support in times of distress
It is common for a child to procrastinate when they are feeling down. Their heart is simply not into studying, so they often stare blankly at the textbook instead of committing to learning.
Parents can avoid this simply by being a pillar of support to their children. Do not let stress overwhelm them; seek assistance from their teachers or get a tutor to look after their learning. Every time they feel unmotivated, try to figure out the source of the problem and encourage them to do their best.
Share personal stories of your experience with procrastination
Sharing stories with your child about past procrastinations will help open their eyes to the importance of overcoming them.
They probably think, “My parents do not understand what I’m going through.” So if you were to share your experiences, they will feel less alone in their struggles and open up more to your suggestions.
There might be feelings of shame, but it is still highly encouraged. Nothing brings people together more than vulnerability. By sharing your stories your regrets, you might also encourage them to open up about their current predicament with procrastination. Once all can work on the issues together.
Poor time management is often the cause for students going into examination halls unprepared. Usually, a student will miscalculate how long it takes to master a subject and procrastinate, only to find that studying is more time-consuming than expected.
Parents can play a part by being the voice of reason. If your child is weak in Math, ensure that more time is dedicated to Math. Realise when exam dates are encroaching and ensure that their timetable has enough study hours to prepare for it.
What if your child performs best after a period of procrastination? It sounds far-fetched, but procrastination is not always counterproductive or disadvantageous. Here are some fantastic ways individuals gained their fame through procrastination.
Frank Lloyd Wright, a well-known architect, procrastinated for 9 months before designing his most famous house two hours before the client arrived at his office.
Leonardo da Vinci is a great man of talent during the Italian Renaissance who took 16 years to complete the Mona Lisa.
Margaret Atwood, a famous Canadian writer, writes her best works only after spending the entire morning procrastinating, before diving into writing at the last minute.
Some students score well after burning the midnight oil before their examinations. Other students understand the content better, only after they have ample time to think and ponder as they procrastinate from their studies.
Of course, this does not apply to most students. Procrastination carries many risks, and rushing at the last minute can result in careless mistakes, stress, anxiety overload, and more. Ultimately, procrastination is not encouraged, but if your child does fantastic with it? Why not!
Isn’t education from school teachers enough? Well, no.
School teachers try to provide quality education to classes (with up to 30 students each). However, there is a limit to how much a school teacher can do for each child.
In this case, what is more important is that a tutor can help keep your child accountable to their academic goals? Think “school teacher that can give their 100% undivided attention to your child and provides regular feedback to parents”, kind of tutor.
Good tutors will also motivate your child and stir up their passion for the subject. So you can expect your child to change the way they approach studying thoroughly.
Everyone procrastinates. Students, in particular, find it hard to keep their focus when surrounded by fun technology and social media. Parents play a part in ensuring that their child overcomes their procrastination and prepare themselves sufficiently for their exams.
Be cautious of signs of procrastination and apply the above solutions accordingly. It is the responsibility of the parent to guide their child onto the right path. Contact us for tuition enquiries, and we will be happy to provide the resources to help them succeed.
Rozental, A., & Carlbring, P. (2014). Understanding and treating procrastination: a review of a common self-regulatory failure. Psychology, 5(13), 1488-1502.
Written by Sheryl, Edited by Xinyi