Get Your Teen to Stop Procrastinating
(No Nagging Required)
“You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.” - Benjamin Franklin
We’ve all been there – putting off that one thing until the last minute, or procrastinating so long that you never end up doing it at all. You’ve likely figured out your own methods to beat procrastination, but what happens when it’s your teen struggling with this bad habit? There are a few key ways you can help your procrastinator, none of which involve nagging or locking them in their room until their work is done.
Even if you are the most driven, goal-oriented, proactive person that you know… you’ve likely procrastinated at least once in your life. Reflect on that! Why did you put it off? What was the end result? Instead of nagging your child, try relating to them instead. By helping them feel understood, you two can conquer their procrastination problems like teammates.
Help them set small goals.
Starting a big project is often the hardest part, because the task in its entirety seems daunting. Instead of looking at the finish line, help your student break the task up into several, smaller parts. Setting the goal of working for half an hour is much less intimidating than forcing yourself to finish the entire thing in one sitting. Finishing one chapter is easier than reading the entire book. Every time your child hits one of the smaller goals, the overall goal will seem less and less overwhelming. In the wise words of Enrichery’s Founder & President Sarah Seitz’s MOM, “Half begun is half done!” Hey, it clearly stuck with Sarah! Just help your student get started, and that’s half the battle.
Remind them what procrastination leads to.
We all know what happens when you procrastinate. Eventually, everything catches up with you and you lose sleep and sanity trying to complete it all, or you ending up accepting failure. Remind your teen that procrastination may give them some momentary relaxation, but over time it only leads to anxiety and stress! Putting in work every day will save them from absolute chaos down the road. Their future self will thank them for NOT procrastinating now!
Plan rewards for progress.
… and start with the easiest thing on your to-do list! Help them think of little rewards for finishing increments of work. In college, I used to let myself watch funny YouTube videos or scroll through social media for 15 minutes after every hour of work. I’d also promise myself coffee or snack breaks after crossing off certain things on my to-do list. Help your teen brainstorm little rewards for getting things done, and it’ll help motivate them to get to work!
Teach them to prioritize.
The best way to break the habit of procrastinating is to help your student see the benefits of not procrastinating. By prioritizing anything with an immediate due date or deadline, they’ll get to see how great it feels to get things done and dusted. If they have a test tomorrow and a test next week, don’t let them get overwhelmed by next week’s test. Encourage them to focus their energy on tomorrow’s test only – when their hard work pays off, they’ll be motivated to conquer next week’s test. By helping them prioritize the most urgent tasks, they’ll also be able to create more organized to-do lists and plans of attack.
Encourage them to be easy on themselves.
A new habit isn’t formed overnight, and they won’t help themselves in the long run by beating themselves up over mistakes. Help them form new habits and guide them through the right steps, but don’t let them dwell on errors. If they get discouraged, they’ll be much less inclined to stick with anything.