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5 Ways to Procrastinator-Proof Your Child

How to respond to last-minute scrambles over homework assignments.

Learning Benefits

Hover over each Learning Benefit below for a detailed explanation.
  1. Step out of the line of fire. Leave the issuing of orders and consequences, advice and directives, to the school. Tempting as it is, if you rush to his rescue either by doing his homework or writing an excuse to the teacher about why he couldn't, your procrastinator learns that his tactics will ultimately be rewarded. Rescue too often, and you also send the message that you really don't believe he can do it himself.
  2. Acknowledge even tentative steps in the right direction. If you're forever noticing what she isn't doing, instead of what she is doing, you'll chip away at her confidence. Praise such as "Good first draft!" or "That's a fine outline" can go a long way toward motivating a child to complete assignments. Reward her for trying by putting a star on the calendar for each day she finishes her work on time. When she collects a week's worth, celebrate with a movie date.
  3. Help him set goals he can meet. Simply beginning is the hardest part for a procrastinator, so show him how to structure his time. A book report in three weeks? Pencil each step into the plan book or calendar: Research in the library; make note cards; write an outline, etc. If he's staring at a blank page, suggest that he write down any thoughts that come to his mind, even if they seem off-base. The process of writing down ideas can generate new ones.
  4. Involve your child in her homework schedule. Hammer out a study routine you can both live with — taking into account after-school activities and favorite TV programs as well as her temperament (some kids prefer to finish in one sitting; others need a break every 15 minutes or so). Give her choices — but not too many. If she wants to watch a show before beginning work, that's okay. But then she has to sit down and begin — even if that means missing a "very important" program later.
  5. Turn homework time into family time. Bring home some paperwork, organize your recipe file, do the Sunday crossword puzzle, or pay bills while your child studies — doing it together can be a motivator.

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