Parenting Procrastinating Children


procrastinating studentsI spent my first nine years out of college teaching 5th grade. I regularly assigned projects and assignments with due dates. I would be frustrated when late work as turned in.

Fast forward to being a mother of two students. Now I am on the much harder side of procrastination—being the parent!

I am a person who *usually* gets things done on time, and early. This was especially true when I was a student myself. I would immediately begin working on a project or studying for a big exam when assigned by my teachers.

My kids did NOT inherit this gene from me.

We have weekly struggles about an assignment, spelling test, or project that is due the next day.

Most of this comes from my kids’ ability to procrastinate until the last.possible.minute. to get started on their work.

Combine this procrastinating tendency with my kids’ innate desire to do well and we get major meltdowns.

procrastinating children des moines moms blog

Tips for Procrastinators

We’ve been working on starting projects or studying earlier, and found the following ideas have worked well for us. (I have one elementary aged son and one middle school aged son.)

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

When the emotions are running high, I have my kids think about how they are feeling. Do they enjoy feeling rushed? Frustrated? Upset? Then we talk about what we can do to calm down, or better yet, prevent that feeling from ever starting. I’ve learned nothing will be accomplished if they are upset. So we make sure their minds are in a happy state. This usually involves food at our house.

Create a Habit

My kids need time to decompress after school. I thought this meant they could relax until dinner and then we would all work on tests or assignments together. I’ve learned this is not the best plan. There appears to be a sweet spot of time between the after-school snack and dinner or sports practice. I would suggest trying different times of working or studying after school until you find what works for your kids.

We also try to make sure we are planning our week out and planning time to finish our work. For example, if we wait until Wednesday to start studying the spelling words, we are going to have a more stressful time because of sports practices and music lessons.

Be an Example

I am no longer teaching in public schools, but I currently own a business. That means I am constantly trying to complete many tasks that have an impact on other people—my clients and my family. I talk to my kids about how I get work done. Sometimes it’s hardest to just get started. I tell my kids that sometimes it’s best to get the easy tasks done first and then tackle the harder or longer tasks last.

I also tell my kids I’m good at working really hard on something for about 30 minutes without any outside distractions, and then I need a quick break to get a drink or stand up for a minute. I also tell them there are really fun parts of my job and those are easy to finish. There are also parts of my job that I don’t enjoy doing but I am still responsible for getting them done. I try to start with those and get them “out of the way”.

Have Fun

Help your kids make their work a little more exciting. I make up games to help them study their spelling. We have a dance party when all of the homework is done. We talk about how great it is to do well on a language test that they were really dreading.

procrastinating children des moines moms blog

Do you have any other advice for our family of procrastinators? I’d love to hear it!


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