Renee Sullins, SPED Homeschool Consulting Partner

In working with teenagers for many years, I have learned that if there is ONE thing that teenagers understand well, it’s PROCRASTINATION. Not to say that adults are not guilty of the same, but teenagers are quite adept at it.

There are three types of procrastinators I would unscientifically categorize as the blatant procrastinator, the passive procrastinator, and the convicted procrastinator.

 

The Blatant Procrastinator purposefully ignores an assignment or task and is aware of the consequences. They are not concerned that something is due the next day or that there is even a deadline involved. It may be important to someone else, but not to them. They simply let the deadline pass and move on, much to the displeasure of their parents who may not even know.

Blatant procrastinators would rather do something they want to do and don’t see it as procrastination. This may be the teen who has a messy room, refuses to use a calendar or planner, and has a list of excuses for everything. Why bother to clean your room when it will just get messy again? Planners are too restrictive! These teenagers are also the ones who spend countless hours gaming or on social media.

 

The Passive Procrastinator waits until the last minute to finish so it does not seem to be a big problem. They are aware of deadlines and may even track things in a planner, app, or notes on their cell phone. They have good intentions of following through, but they just cannot accomplish tasks on-time consistently. They know where they want to be, but struggle to manage their time.

Passives may believe they have finished, but in reality, it is only partially done and they don’t notice until it is too late. These teens are usually the ones with ADHD and who are aware of their learning differences, but they are not using the necessary tools to focus and manage their time. Passive procrastinators know the consequences of not getting something done on time. They are often the most amenable to trying new strategies to help prevent procrastination, though.

 

If we can determine what is getting in the way of their success and help them get unstuck, then they are more motivated to cultivate new habits for their success.

 

The Convicted Procrastinator has a heightened awareness that they are procrastinating but, instead of working toward their goal, they quickly become overwhelmed and spiral into thoughts of self-criticism, defeat, and guilt. They are so hard on themselves that they self-sabotage and end up not getting anything done. Or, they are so overwhelmed about their lack of activity, there is often a resultant headache, stomach ache, or even a migraine. When this happens, they feel even worse, and it becomes a vicious cycle.

 

I would also like to mention a fourth type of procrastinator that I know well as I witnessed this type in my teen. They are a kindred spirit to the Passive but to a more extreme level. It is the Avoidant Procrastinator. This is the teen who thinks that if they don’t think about it at all, it will go away. I had one of those in my house. It does not go away. It only gets worse and can cause great anxiety and stress.  Please be aware of the signs that your teen may suffer from more than just being a procrastinator.

 

So what should a parent do? Each procrastinator has his or her own set of rules, coping skills, excuses, and struggles. The first thing I do when I work with young people is to let them know that I come from a place of curiosity, not a place of judgment. We dive deep to determine what they want for themselves, how they want to be seen and heard, what is important to them, and their “why”. If we can determine what is getting in the way of their success and help them get unstuck, then they are more motivated to cultivate new habits for their success. This takes time, patience, and intentional listening.

The teen years are transitional years of becoming more independent yet still needing the approval and counsel of parents. When you have a procrastinator in your home, instead of asking nagging questions or given them endless reminders, seek out resources to get them the support they need that works uniquely for them. This may take some trial and error, but in the end, they will find their way, and will feel empowered and in control of their lives now, and hope for the future.

 

 

 

 

 


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By Peggy Ployhar

Over the years of working through my parenting anger issues, the biggest lesson I have learned about myself is my natural tendency to want to always be in control. I have talked about letting go of control in many areas of parenting throughout this series; control of my children’s character development, as well as my parenting approach in respect to my use of authority, of conveying acceptance, in providing forgiveness, and with my desire to  restore honor. The final, and most deceptively hidden, area I needed to surrender my need to over control as a parent was time management.

 

Finding Balance in Time Management
Controlling every single moment of every single day in my children’s lives was not healthy. Plus, if my goal was to help my children learn the skill of managing their time effectively they needed opportunities to practice. Opportunities I was denying them by always micro-managing their schedules.

 

My blindness to my overly controlling approach towards my children’s schedules was aided by the fact that all my children deal with varying degrees of executive functioning deficits. These deficits limit their natural abilities to quickly and efficiently schedule, plan, and organize themselves. So, as a mother who is naturally gifted in this area, it was easy to just step in and take over these responsibilities for my children instead of letting go and teaching them to take ownership for their own use of time.

 

For any parent of a struggling child, the tendency to overcompensate and take control is a constant battle. On one hand you desire for your child to learn and grow, but on the other hand the pain this struggle causes your child and often your own self (extra messes to clean up, extended length in completing tasks, etc.) is much more easily alleviated by stepping in. How then is a parent to win over this desire to control while still keeping a child on track? The answer is balance.

 

A balanced time-management approach involves evaluating three things: your child, your approach, your tools. Looking at these three areas and then determining a balanced plan on how to appropriately give your child the help needed to get through a regular schedule while developing time management skills of their own along the way.

 

Your Child
Understanding the true capability if your child to manage time is critical when figuring out how much this child can manage realistically without your help. Have you ever done a critical analysis of how well your child can break down a larger task into a checklist of smaller parts to complete the whole project?

 

One easy way to figure out your child’s executive functioning capability is to test it by asking your child to do a task which requires multiple steps. I would suggest doing this test with different types of tasks because children often have a greater ability to focus and plan when they are interested in the task (like building a Lego set) than they do when they are disinterested in a task, like cleaning the bathroom.

 

If you have an older student, you can also use this free time management quiz. The quiz has 15 simple questions your student can answer, and then the website provides ideas for goal setting based on the deficiencies revealed by the quiz.

 

Your Approach
Now that you know what skills your child has for managing his own time, and which ones you need to help teach for greater mastery, you should develop a strategy for teaching time management skills. Here are some website with great resources on helping kids with mild time management issues, moderate executive functioning issues, or even more severely limited scheduling abilities.

 

Mild Time Management Strategies
11 Easy Tips for Teaching Your Kids Time Management
The Age-By-Age Guide to Teaching Kids Time Management
6 Ways to Teach Time Management Skills

Moderate Executive Functioning Strategies

Graphic Organizers from the Learning Disabilities Foundation of America
Helping Kids Who Struggle with Executive Functioning
10 Frightfully Useful Tips from Executive Functioning Coaches
5 Must-Have Apps for Improving Executive Functioning in Children

 

Strategies for Students with Severely Limited Scheduling Abilities
Tactile Schedules for Students with Visual Impairments and Multiple Disabilities
8 Types of Visual Student Schedules
Object Schedule Systems
Free Printable Visual Schedules


Your Tools

Based on how much help your child needs and what approach you feel would best help in teaching better time management, you can now start putting together your tools. The various articles above are filled with everything from digital tools to very hands-on physical tools.

 

For our family, we did a lot of visual schedules on a huge blackboard in our kitchen when our children were very young. We supplemented that schedule with daily conversations about upcoming activities and plans to ensure our children remembered what lay ahead and weren’t surprised when we had something planned that didn’t fit into our normal routine. But, as our children grew older those schedules moved to student planners, apps, and shared documents along with the daily conversations.

 

Knowledge has great power. In my experience with letting go of controlling my children, knowing more about the type of help they needed and when I was becoming overly controlling greatly helped with restoring a proper parent-child relationship in our home.

 

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