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How to Get Teens to Stop Procrastinating

by Tiffany Raiford

Most people procrastinate on some level, but maybe your teen procrastinates more than anyone you know. Why should he do work on that final project when he has another week until it's due? Why study for his exam when it’s not for another three days? Why clean his room now when he can do it later? Procrastination is a natural inclination, but you can help your teen realize he has to stop procrastinating.

Learn to recognize the underlying issues with your teen’s procrastination. Take notice of the times she procrastinates the most, such as when a task is difficult, takes too much of her time or she’s not sure how to do it. According to Jerry Osteryoung, director of outreach at the Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship at the College of Business at Florida State University, recognizing underlying issues of procrastination can help you help your teen overcome those problems.

Help your teen come up with a list of priorities that will help him stop procrastinating. According to Scouting Magazine's May/June 2003 edition, it is easier to get things done and avoid procrastination when you have a clear idea of what needs doing first. For example, if your teen wants to procrastinate on a school project that’s due in a week in favor of studying for an exam that she’s taking tomorrow, that’s a priority. However, she needs to understand that once her exam is over she must begin work on her project.

Provide your teen with a reminder of what happens to procrastinators, according to Scouting Magazine. For example, remind her that if she finishes her school project today, she won’t have to think about it again until it’s time to turn it in, which will give her more time to spend time with friends, practice her favorite sport or otherwise enjoy herself. If she chooses to procrastinate and work on the project this weekend, she might have to turn down the opportunity to go to the mall with her friends or dinner and a movie with the rest of the family so she can work on the project.

Allow your teen to suffer the consequences of his procrastination issues. Sometimes you need to step back and realize that his problem with procrastinating is his problem, not yours, according to Jan Faull, a Seattle-based parenting expert and author of four books. This might mean letting him procrastinate and learn the hard way that procrastination does not pay off. For example, if he doesn’t finish his school project on time, his grades suffer. If his grades are not acceptable and your house rules state that your teen's driving abilities are taken away when grades suffer, then he loses his driving privileges until he brings his grades up. It’s harsh, but sometimes it’s the most effective manner of teaching teens to stop procrastinating, according to Faull.

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