Some people change when they see the
light, others when they feel the heat." --Caroline Schoeder
There is a disease running rampant among our nation’s teenagers. Nobody knows how it is contracted and recovery is often a long, frustrating, process. Yes, it’s the dreaded Procrastinationitis. You are probably aware of this affliction and may even have someone who suffers from it living in your home.
The world could be their oyster if they would just stop texting and open a textbook! The people who manufacture Ambien are making a fortune from insomnia caused by worrying about our apathetic teenagers.
All kids want to succeed, but many are overwhelmed and don't have the tools to succeed at school. So, they shut down, hide behind screens, become irritable, say they don't care or what they think you want to hear just to get you to stop nagging them.
By and large, this lack of motivation comes from a combo platter of anxiety (yes, even the ones that don't seem to care), low self-confidence (confidence is a breeding ground for success), immaturity (what were you thinking about when you were a teenager?), and in many cases, weak executive function skills.
Fear of failure also tops the list of why kids procrastinate. I have had several students who would rather not hand in an assignment and get an F rather than hand in something they feel is not perfect. If you feel your child has emotional issues which impact academics, such as anxiety or depression, seek professional help first and worry about academics later.
Some great ways to combat Procrastinationitis are setting realistic goals and, if they will let you, help them learn to break down overwhelming assignments into smaller, workable tasks. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Right.
Try to amp up the positive support and tone down the negative feedback. Encourage self-advocacy. Take away the safety net and allow them to experience the natural consequences so they learn to be self-reliant and independent.
Pulling back and letting your teenager steer the ship is no easy task. Watching them make mistakes is painful and our natural instinct is to catch them before they fall. We also know this is how they grow. I suggest doing what I do when I see my son on Facebook instead of studying for his chemistry test. Take a deep breath, take a step back, and take an Ambien.
Sue Schaefer, M.ED., M.A.T., founder of Academic Coaching Associates, is an Academic Coach, Student Advocate, and certified teacher. You may visit her website at www.academiccoachingct.com, email her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @sueschaefer1