I always find that the summer is a great time to work on those things that we, and our kids, rarely have time for during the school year. During those nine months, we are simply too busy to put one more item on our to-do lists.
That’s why I’ve resolved to take some time this summer to end a scourge that is afflicting my family — and likely yours, too. It’s called procrastination. And if you allow procrastination to infiltrate your life, it will undermine almost everything that you want to do.
Specifically, when it comes to our kids, teaching them the art of accomplishment is crucial to their ability to succeed in school, sports, extracurricular activities, and life. Some days it's a minor miracle if we can get our kids to do their homework without waiting until the last minute, or get them to clean their playroom without telling them 15 times and finally screaming at them.
Here are some tips on curtailing procrastination:
1. Explain It
Young kids don’t know what procrastination means. They just know that they don’t want to get up off the couch to clean the playroom, so you must put it in terms that a child will understand.
2. Put a Time Limit on a Task
If you give your child something to do, set a timer and tell them that it must be done before the timer goes off. If it is, they’ll be rewarded. If not, they won’t.
3. Follow a Mantra
Make this refrain part of the lingo around your house: “Do the job now and relax later.” This crystallizes the method to beat procrastination. If you exemplify this behavior and show your children that you get chores or work done and then have time to kick back and relax, they’ll want to embody it also.
4. Make Lists
If you make lists of the things that you want to get done that week or that day, it makes the tasks easier to manage and keep track of. Plus, there are few better feelings in the world than crossing an item off of your to-do list. It empowers you to work harder and cross off more.
5. Make Them Early Workers
One key is to get the work done as early in the day as possible. It’s easy to let the work lag until later in the day as we put things off. “Oh, I’ll do that later,” we say. But that only spreads the disease. The cure is to find the will and the time to accomplish all that we can, as early as we can to put those tasks aside and focus on the things we really want to do.
6. Make it Routine
Like most things in life, if you can make these habits part of your child’s daily routine, they will become ingrained and expected. And, before you know it, your child will do them without even asking. For instance, this summer we’ve asked that our oldest read at least two books a day. At first, he resisted. But we followed through and refused to let him have his way.