Life is not without its struggles, and unfortunately, kids are not immune to these struggles. Much like adults, some children can struggle with both perfectionism and procrastination. After all, don't we want to be flawless in what we do?
Kids may not quite understand it's okay to make mistakes, fall flat on your you-know-what and get back up to try again. This perfectionism can cause some kids to simply put off doing whatever it is they want to excel at, which can lead to a serious case of procrastination.
As parents and adults, we're here to let them know it's okay to not succeed every single time. No matter what, we will be cheering them on every step of the way as we encourage them to simply try their best! We rounded up some tips to help you combat your child's perfectionism and procrastination in the best ways possible.
10 Use Behavior Momentum
This term may not be a familiar one to most parents. It's used in behavior therapy to encourage children to do things they may find difficult. Have your child do things they're fluent in and find fun before presenting a task they have been procrastinating.
Because they're already doing things, they're more likely to keep this momentum up and tackle a more challenging task. For example, if your child is putting off doing their math homework, start with a subject that they do enjoy or do well. After completing a subject they do well in, they will likely be ready to take on that tricky math assignment since they are already in the homework mood.
9 Work With Them On Goal Setting
Working with kids of all ages to set clear and obtainable goals is one major key in helping them overcome procrastination. You can break a project down into pieces so they can achieve small accomplishments resulting in the overall goal being completed within a timely matter. Large goals can become overwhelming quickly, which usually results in people simply putting it off.
Need to clean your entire house? Start with just the bathroom today. This philosophy will not only help you get a clean house by the weekend, but can also help your child finish their science project, learn to tie their shoes, or organize their room. Whatever needs to be done, goal setting can help.
8 Set Expectations
Kids might procrastinate because they don't know what's expected of them. Giving your child clear expectations can help jumpstart them into action.
If you want them to clean their room, give them a deadline. If homework needs to be done, tell them exactly what assignments you expect done by dinner time. These clear expectations can help combat any procrastination your child is feeling just as expectations help adults get their to-do lists done.
7 Be Open About Your Own Mistakes
As parents, it's easy to not let our children see our struggles and mistakes. But this can be detrimental in the long run. Allowing your kids to think you're perfect may lead them to believe they need to be "perfect" as well. And we all know there's no such thing as perfection.
So let your kids see that burned dinner instead of rushing to order pizza, talk about those big work projects in front of them, and be open about your mistakes (as long as it's age appropriate) so they know it's okay to fall down once in awhile.
6 Help Them Embrace Their Mistakes
Part of being open about your own mistakes is allowing room for your children to make mistakes, too. Instead of stressing out or breaking down in tears, teach them appropriate ways to handle imperfections. After all, life is filled with them.
Show them it's okay to ask for help, to try again, and to not immediately be an expert on everything they try. Knowing imperfection is a part of life will help reduce procrastination as your child stops putting off tough tasks in fear of failing.
5 Provide Rewards For Effort
Perhaps your child is putting off those tasks simply because they aren't rewarding enough. Maybe getting gold stars on homework isn't enough reinforcement for some kids, and this is where you can help by providing a little extra reward.
Provide praise, give an allowance, or have them work for a special outing when they get things done without procrastinating. Knowing they get a little something extra can encourage them to finish their to-do lists, even if it's not done perfectly. You can work on increasing the quality as you go, but without pressing for perfection, of course.
4 Have Patience
This may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes we need reminders of just how important it is to have patience. Constantly nagging your child to do something will probably make them want to do it less, which will only work to increase that dreaded procrastination.
Also, constantly reminding them of unfinished business will only place that much more attention and importance on it, and this can be a negative thing if your child struggles with perfectionism. Instead of nagging, work with them. Provide them tools and teach them steps on how to avoid procrastination and perfectionism in the first place.
3 Teach Them To Start With Simple Tasks
Much like using behavior momentum, teaching your child to start small and work their way up can help reduce perfectionism and procrastination. It's easier to get small tasks done separately than try to tackle the entire project at once- especially if you're a kid.
Getting the small tasks out of the way can also make the big picture goal appear more attainable, which means kids are more likely to actually get it done.
2 Encourage Them To Discuss Their Struggles
Just as important it is for parents to be open about their mistakes, it's important for kids to feel free to share their struggles as well. Maybe there's a reason your kid fears failure, and maybe you can help them overcome that.
However, it's hard to help when you aren't aware of what's really going on. This is where open and honest conversations can help!
1 Help Them Create A Calendar
Most adults have some type of calendar or system to remind them of what they need to get done and when, so why not create one for your kids?
Having a visual schedule of what they need to do and when they need to do it by is a creative and easy way to help overcome procrastination. Plus, your kid will probably enjoy making it!