He does, she does, everyone PROCRASTINATES!!!

I’m doing it as I write.  I should be doing things that are more important than this.  Yet, here I am writing my blog.  I believe I’m procrastinating.  I think everyone procrastinates.  And since it’s the beginning of the school year, I figured it’s time to revisit why our kids do it.

About 95% of the time when I ask kids (and their parents) about their academic struggles the first thing they mention is procrastination.  And 90% of the time, they follow-up and say they’re lazy.  Most of the time, they say they’re disorganized.

And then everything freezes and the skies open.  Aha!  See!  If you didn’t procrastinate and weren’t so lazy and disorganized you’d do a better job of finishing your homework, studying for tests, and getting better grades.  Having never heard this before, they, suddenly motivated, jump off my couch, take an Uber home (because they don’t want to waste any time), and do all their work then and for the rest of their academic lives.

Problem is, after Uber drops your kid off, sometimes he’ll have a difficult time understanding the concepts.  If he didn’t understand it in class, he certainly won’t when doing it at home. Ok, maybe he should try a bit harder or ask his teacher or friends for help.  But, really, when he can’t finish it’s not due to procrastination. No big deal, parents think, we’ll just get you a tutor.  Problem solved.  And sometimes it is.

Problem is, most of the time most of the kids I see understand the concepts.  They just struggle overcoming the sheer mass.  Why do they have to do problems 1-70 “all” when they could do the same learning by 1-70 “evens?”  Not sure.  But I think some teachers/schools have the attitude that kids need this much homework to understand the material.  In some of the more difficult programs, it’s almost like a weeding out process.  Sort of an extended hell week.  If you can’t do all of the problems you get a “C” or, even better, drop the class. I don’t want you here, keeping a seat warm.  They’re subtle but I think kids sometimes get these unspoken messages from their teachers.

Some kids push back against this.  They look at the sheer mass, realize they don’t need to do it to master the material, and refuse to complete it in full.  They absorb the information they need in class, do well on the tests, and figure the rest will work out.  As you might anticipate, when challenged, they dig in their heels and refuse to change.  Although not necessarily a recipe for adult success, this isn’t procrastination.

Sometimes, the work is doable and kids aren’t being resistant or procrastinating.  But they aren’t getting it done, largely because they have way, way, way too many activities and they’re too exhausted or just don’t have the time to finish.  If parents get a hint that this is happening, it’s time to say “enough” and encourage your child to take her foot off the accelerator and chill out.

But this is hard when kids are being pressured by other outside forces to succeed.  Last year, a kid told me that her coach at school told her that her sport is as important as school.  Being the well-behaved kid that she is, she tried to keep-up with the demands of academics, her coach, and other extracurricular activities…and cracked.  She ultimately decided that her academic success and mental health were more important than keeping up with sports and other extracurricular activities.  Sure, her playing time suffered, but she was 100% ok with it, as she felt more balanced, calm, and happy.

Granted, many, many other factors are at play.  But taking a look at the whole picture, at least some of the time we’ve got overly programmed, overly stretched physically and emotionally, burned out kids who are doing their best (most of the time) to get things done and are struggling.   Procrastination and laziness are the least of their problems.

I don’t necessarily have answers, but I encourage parents to look at how and why your kids are “procrastinating.”  Is there anything you can do to help?

Once again, this therapist, parent and spouse goes through life, doing the best I can.

Until next time


4 Responses to He does, she does, everyone PROCRASTINATES!!!
  1. elizabeth
    August 24, 2016 | 8:27 am

    We all have to struggle with this…Good to take a break as a reward for accomplishing even a small part of your task….

  2. elizabeth
    August 24, 2016 | 8:27 am

    We all have to struggle with this…Good to take a break as a reward for accomplishing even a small part of your task….

  3. Larry
    August 24, 2016 | 7:27 pm

    As a former high school teacher (currently teach some college classes), I gave homework. I think it’s important to give enough so students can feel more confident in the skill that you want them to master. At that point, it’s enough.
    Going overboard does not help in anyway.

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