Book offers an end to nagging

Don't put this off: Helping kids stop procrastinating

March 16, 2003|By Stephanie Dunnewind | Stephanie Dunnewind,Knight Ridder / Tribune

Many parents tire of nagging their children to do their homework, clean their room or write a thank-you note to Grandma.

Some dawdling is expected. But a chronic "I'll do it later" attitude is a bad habit parents should -- and can -- eradicate, says Rita Emmett in The Procrastinating Child: A Handbook for Adults to Help Children Stop Putting Things Off (Walker & Co., $10.95).

Her book looks at the causes of procrastination, such as lack of motivation, feeling overwhelmed, disorganization and perfectionism.

Besides making life easier for themselves, parents who help children overcome procrastination will likely see a rise in their kids' self-esteem. Here are some of Emmett's tips for curtailing children's procrastination:

* Set rules requiring children to finish chores and tasks right away.

* Reinforce positives so kids don't procrastinate in order to receive negative attention.

* Let children suffer the consequences of procrastination. For example, don't stay up late completing a science project they put off.

* Give them motivation for completing tasks without reminders. Let the child brainstorm rewards, which could include computer time, a trip to the park or an overnight with friends.

* Brag about your child's new behavior of getting things done when he can overhear you.

* Help children break down a large job into smaller tasks.

* Reward the steps. If a child has a long-term project, such as reading a book and doing a report, reward him for starting well ahead of time by taking him out for a small treat when he's halfway through the book.

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