Procrastinating on homework is something that pretty much every child does at some point. However, it can range from being barely an issue at all to something that has a severely negative impact on your child’s grades.
Whether you want to help improve your child’s academic performance or you just don’t want to nag them to do their homework all the time, it’s important to understand why your child is procrastinating before looking for ways to dealing with it.
Today, we’ll be sharing with you how to find out what’s causing your child to procrastinate, and what you can do to help them.
When Is Procrastination a Problem?
It’s common for kids to not want to do their homework. The subject matter can often be pretty dry and unengaging, and starting work on a large task can feel really daunting for just about anyone, whether you’re a kid or not.
In fact, lots of us are guilty of procrastinating when it comes to doing things that we don’t particularly want to do. It’s a natural human reaction.
However, there’s a difference between your child procrastinating on their homework every now and then and procrastinating on their homework to the point where it negatively affects the quality of said homework.
Procrastination can take the appearance of waiting until the last minute to start an assignment or starting an assignment at a reasonable time but not completing it until after the due date. It can also manifest as your child putting off an important assignment to work on something less important.
However, it can sometimes be tough to figure out if your child is just an occasional procrastinator or if they’ve entered into a regular pattern of procrastination. As a parent, you need to pay attention to your child’s homework habits and take notice if you see any of these behaviors coming up often.
If your child is a serial procrastinator, it may also be reflected by poor grades, or they may be unable to take part in extracurricular activities. Again, as a parent, you should be aware of these things if they start happening frequently.
Before you can find ways to help deal with your child’s procrastination, however, you need to understand why your child is procrastinating, to begin with. There are many reasons why this could be happening, which we’ll talk about next.
Why Is Your Kid Procrastinating?
A lot of parents may just think that their kids are being lazy or that they have no motivation, and that’s why their homework isn’t getting done. It’s true that lack of motivation can be a primary cause of procrastination, but what exactly is it that causes a lack of motivation?
A common cause is pure and simple boredom. Let’s face it; homework isn’t really all that much fun to do a lot of the time.
If your child finds the assignments they’re getting to be consistently unengaging, then obviously they’re going to be far less inclined to work on them. Or perhaps, your child simply believes that the homework they have is completely irrelevant to their current or future interests and plans.
However, there are other reasons beyond a lack of interest in the task at hand that contribute to homework procrastination.
Some children just don’t have self-discipline very much and find it hard to prioritize what they need to do over what they want to do.
For today’s kids, who often have tons of things to distract them at home, it can be tricky for them to stay focused on a single task.
Younger kids may not have the greatest grasp on time, and as a result, they may be poor when it comes to managing their time. This can lead them to underestimate how long it will take for them to complete an assignment, which results in them putting it off.
And sometimes, it might be anxiety over the task at hand that prevents them from getting started. Some children get hung up on whether their work is good enough to meet the expectations of the school, their parents expectations, or even their own personal expectations.
Obviously, you want your child to strive to complete the best work they can, but when perfectionism goes too far, it can turn to crippling anxiety over their work that prevents them from doing anything at all.
What Can You Do About This?
Before you can take any steps to deal with your child’s procrastination, you first need to understand where it comes from, and that involves having an open discussion with your child about homework and procrastination. You can’t know what is causing these issues for them until you get their perspective on it.
Suppose you can demonstrate that you’re willing to be supportive and understanding of your child’s attitude towards homework, they’ll be far more willing to open up to you about their struggles.
Once they do, listen closely to them, because while they might not say outright what’s preventing them from completing their work, you’ll be able to gain some clues about their mindset regarding homework.
It’s important to clarify your expectations when it comes to completing homework. Children often overestimate what adults are expecting of them, and they may be under the impression that you will only be satisfied with straight A’s when really you just want them to try their best regardless of what grades they end up getting.
Getting your child into a positive mindset about homework can do a lot to help them overcome their apprehension of starting a new task. But there are other techniques you can use as well that might be able to help, which we’ll get into now.
The S.T.I.N.G. Method
The S.T.I.N.G. method is a technique you can use to help your child focus on a single task and get it done quickly. Here’s how it works:
- Select a single task for your child to complete. This task should be something that your child should be able to finish in no more than an hour (or less, if they’re younger and have trouble concentrating for that long).
- Set a Timer for however long you think your child needs at most to complete the task.
- Make sure your child Ignores everything else while working. Try and make sure that your child is working in a distraction-free environment.
- No breaks permitted until the task is done or the timer goes off.
- Finally, Give your child a reward for their work. This doesn’t have to be a physical reward; it can be something like an extra hour of playtime before bed or anything else your child would enjoy doing.
“Chunking” refers to taking one large task, like studying for a big test or writing a research project, and breaking it up into smaller, more manageable tasks.
For example, if your child is writing a research project, you can have them gather information resources one day, work on one section of the project the next day, and the next section the day after that, and so on.
It may be a good idea to help them write a list of tasks that they need to complete in advance so that they can refer to the list if they start feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what to do next.
Chunking and making lists are two great techniques that can help your child pace themselves and manage their time well.
Set a Work Schedule
This is particularly effective when it comes to helping young children not procrastinate because establishing a specific schedule for completing homework at home can give them a familiar structure to follow each time and help them feel more comfortable with starting homework on their own.
Giving your child structure helps the experience of doing homework stay consistent, which can make the process of starting a new assignment less anxiety-inducing.
Bonus Resource: Children Learning Reading
We’d like to take the opportunity now to recommend an additional resource to you. Children who are more advanced in reading are able to complete their homework with less procrastination. If you want to help your child to stay engaged in their school work it may be worth your time to check out the Children Learning Reading program.
This program is intended for the parents of children between the ages of 2-7, and it is designed to help these children develop strong reading skills at an early age. If your child is old enough to speak reasonably well, then they’re old enough to begin using this program.
It focuses on helping your children develop phonemic awareness, which is the capability to recognize and manipulate distinctive phonemes, which are essentially the smallest units of sound that combine together to form words of a different meaning.
The program itself consists of two separate stages, one that helps your child develop fundamental reading skills, and another that challenges those skills and helps your child develop them even further.
Each stage consists of an instructional book for you and numerous step-by-step lessons for your child. The lessons are short and simple, and each one should take no more than 10 minutes to complete.
If such a resource interests you and you’re interested in finding out more about it, you can read more about the Children Learning Reading program here:
If your child is a serial procrastinator, the most important thing is to figure out why that is. Chances are your child either doesn’t find the work engaging or is suffering from some homework anxiety and in either case, you need to be supportive of your child and help them deal with the root cause of their procrastination.
With the information we’ve given you today, you should be well-equipped to help your child kick their procrastination tendencies and help them develop effective studying habits.