Ah… Procrastination. The bane of every Year 7 to 12 parent’s existence. 

Everyone complains about it, not just parents. Employers and even university lecturers have observed distinct differences between their best and struggling performers. Based on a 2022 survey by Studiosity, 8 in 10 students admit to struggling with procrastination. But oddly enough, it’s ‘almost’ normalised to the point that people assume that procrastination is just a normal teenage phase.  

It’s because procrastination isn’t really a ‘life or death’ issue, especially when compared to students refusing school or teenagers suffering from acute anxiety exacerbated by academic pressures. So, it kind of occupies this funny space where it doesn’t quite fly under the radar, but there isn’t much urgency by schools or educators to nip it in the bud as they would with, say, bullying or students caught vaping in the bathrooms.  

But that does not mean that it’s not important — it is. And most parents we speak to are deeply concerned. They come to us because they recognise it significantly impacts your child’s learning and buries deeper, more ominous problems. 

In this article, we unpack what lies under your child’s procrastination and three impactful ways to squash their ‘last-minute-up-til-dawn-finishing-assignments madness.’ 

Unpacking Your Child’s Procrastination 

Many students procrastinate but for many different reasons.  

What does that look like? Recently, a parent shared with me how their child suddenly tapped their shoulder because they had a project due the next day. So they rushed into their car for a late-night trip to the store and what seemed like a scavenger hunt for art supplies. Procrastination symptoms like this include forgetting about assignments, making excuses or being too distracted by a brand-new episode on Netflix, and you’re left with no choice but to nag them. 

 

 

But it’s not just that. A more subtle sign of procrastination is seen in students who do get their assignments done but with not the highest quality. They get stressed as project deadlines approach and pick at their work. Students with this kind of procrastination also only get to homework without proofreading or asking for feedback about their work. Sometimes, they completely run out of time because they lose track and misjudge how long their tasks will take. 

 

What most parents miss is that these are all surface-level symptoms of gaps in your child’s learning. These kinds of procrastination are commonly due to more profound problems. 

Poor time management 

Teenagers who procrastinate often lack the planning and organisation skills to help them manage their time and work. They don’t have a study routine to follow. And if they do, the plan doesn’t properly match and support their academic goals or unique learning profile. Otherwise, they’d use it because it the plan supplies the necessary motivation and structure.  

Another common obstacle for students is not knowing how to plan for projects because they cannot accurately determine how much work should be involved in their assignments. Because they lack the essential skills for proper time management, they choose the next, easiest thing: delay the work and ‘cross the bridge when they get there.’ 

Lack of engagement 

Based on a 2023 report by the South Australian Government, only 43% of students feel engaged and care about their tasks, leaving 57% of the majority disengaged in Years 4–12. When students are not engaged, it’s much harder for them to keep themselves from activities that would cost them time for their assignments. Not being engaged with what and ‘why’ they’re learning also makes it more challenging to choose to stay focused and productive. Because at the end of the day, nipping procrastination in the bud depends on your child’s choice.   

Low confidence and overwhelm 

When your child’s been stuck with the habit of last-minute work paired with mediocre results, it’s inevitable for them to feel overwhelmed and lose confidence in themselves. Procrastination takes more effort and energy than when students accomplish tasks on a well-planned timeline. This adds to the strain and stress in school, leading to more projects being pushed back — a never-ending, frustrating cycle. 

Squashing the Last-Minute Madness 

So what can you do to help your child overcome the ‘last-minute madness’ for better marks and healthier well-being? Our education strategists shared three best practices based on our experience working with thousands of students. 

 

 

1. Get Curious

As soon as you catch your child lazing about when they should be working, wanting to correct it and get them off the couch can feel like an instinctive reaction for parents. But before you drop the bomb, it’s best to start with an open conversation without judgment. 

Ask how or what makes your child push back their projects and retreat to watching videos on YouTube or TikTok with a pile of assignments to work on. Listen to their responses and keep your mind open. This mindset and approach will eventually help your child generate insights into self-regulation and making a change. 

2. Establish rules of engagement

Many families we’ve spoken to share that they ask their child to put away the phone as their child is already hooked on their device. However, this is a reactive way to address their procrastination. There’s no set rule that their child shouldn’t be on their phones unless their homework is already finished, which could’ve been a more proactive approach to respond to their child’s ineffective study habits.  

We can’t expect teenagers to know what to do if the rules and boundaries are unclear. When is a good time to use the phone? Why shouldn’t they watch Netflix while having breaks from focus times? What is the intention behind these house rules? There has to be clear rules of engagement. Otherwise, there will be no consistency to support young people in squashing bad habits like procrastination in their developmental phase. 

3. Build Accountability

No, this is not about you having to police every moment they grab their phones or steer clear of their assignments. Accountability is really just about checking in and reminding them of what they’re set out to do. 

Try asking, “Have you done what you said you would do?” That element of ‘what you said you would do’ can significantly impact your conversation because it needs to be agreed upon. Your child should be able to participate in the dialogue and set things for themselves. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be able to want to do it.  

Accountability is also crucial because it’s vital in building your child’s confidence and showing them what they’re capable of if they study consistently. It helps frame expectations from them and navigate results they’re less happy with. 

Bonus: Kalibrate-Ed’s Secret 

We know that proactive parents are concerned about what procrastination is doing to their child. They recognise it not only impacts their immediate marks but also breeds bad habits that affect their effectiveness in lifelong learning for university and their future careers.  

So to help our students stay on-task and on time, we designed the Procrastination Focaliser. It’s like having an alarm that can help teenagers who have fallen off the wagon to let them know they’re focalising and when they’re off track.  

With our Procrastination Focaliser, students don’t have to worry about procrastination and distraction problems. Its mechanism allows your child to self-identify and course-correct all on their own when they experience fatigue or stumble. 

If you want to explore this for your child, we can brainstorm ideas on how your child can turn their procrastination into productivity and boost their academic performance until the end of the school year. 

Take the first step and find a time to talk with us! Click the link below to schedule book a planning call with our education strategists. 

 

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