Lead by example, dear parent

Lead by example, dear parent

Mary Chelladurai, Nov 9, 2013


There is only one way to stop your kid from procrastinating. And that is to lead by example, by not succumbing to procrastination yourself first, reckons Mary Chelladurai.

Procrastination is usually noticed in late childhood especially during adolescence. It needs to be addressed and arrested. If not, it can plague adulthood. Procrastination or using delaying tactics in adulthood can become a hindrance to one’s desire to perform and excel.

How can we nip this in the bud? Many parents wonder why adolescents can’t just do the things expected of them. The area of great concern is, “why do children postpone home-work, tidying their rooms, getting ready for something, and even their daily routine?” Many frustrated parents talk about the number of reminders they give their children. Often, reminders do not help. In times gone by, every parent would have heard his/her child retort, “I’ll do it later!”, only to discover later that the task was left undone.

Are children out to defy parents and get at them? Are children overwhelmed with the enormity of the task at hand, or is it the push and force from parents which is de-motivating them? Are children natural procrastinators? This cannot be true because research reveals that all behaviour is mostly learnt or inherited but can be changed with conducive environment.


Rita Emmet, in her book The Procrastinating Child, gives us an insight into why children postpone action or play a waiting game. She brings home the fact that many times, our poor communications skills and demanding behaviour put them off. We use this technique on every child. Some children get tuned in and do things in order to get us off their backs. Others argue, display emotional upheavals, and empty buckets of tears before complying. In all this, we emotionally drift away from the child.

Many a times we are tempted to view procrastination as a small and harmless weakness. Beware! If not taken seriously and handled appropriately, it can erode the quality of our children’s lives.

Enormity of the task

Children can view some task as too demanding, or hard. The natural tendency is to bypass difficult tasks and get down to doing something which is easy and pleasant.

Parents should talk to their child, explaining how the task at hand can be looked at with ease and comfort. Listen to the child’s point of view and try to help the child to reason clearly. Break each task into small time-bound segments. Let the child complete each segment bit by bit within a 10 or 15 minute plan. At end of 10 or 15 minutes, let the child switch to something of interest before returning to the task. Eventually, chances are that the child will be interested to complete the task within the stipulated, mutually agreed upon time. Once the task is completed, genuinely appreciate and applaud the child’s efforts.

Feeling of inadequacy

Sometimes, children feel that they do not have the skills or knowledge to do the task given to them. Sometimes, the child can view a task as different from what (s)he is normally used to doing. They need to be positively challenged and motivated. Many times a child may want to do a task perfectly. But once they know that they cannot meet their own expectations, they avoid doing the task altogether! Help the child to set fair standards. Encourage them to understand that perfection is achieved when a task is done over and over again, and that experience brings perfection.


Young children have good excuses. They might say, “I am not in a mood to do this now.”  Do not buy this all the time. Confront this myth of moods. Speak to the child and make him/her understand that all of us are not always doing the things we like. We should slowly cultivate a liking to all the things we need to do. In fact, we get motivated and inspired when we take concrete steps and see that we are nearing the goal.

All said and done, remember that what you do yourself is what your child is going to learn. Be the best role model, when your youngster is doing home-work. Do not relax before the TV when you have loads of work to do.

Always lead by example. This will be a good motivation.

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