About Procrastination

Submitted by PeterAKenny on May 15, 2020

Get ready for school. Pick up your toys. Do your homework. Come to dinner. Foot-dragging can provoke long drawn-out attempts to get results by endless nagging. Parents become frustrated. Reminding and arguing and threatening are usually ineffective. Even worse, the attention that nagging provides can reinforce the very behavior that is driving the parent mad. The best discipline for slowpokes is for the parent to set deadlines. And then to enforce them, not with a lecture or punishment, but with practical consequences.

Foster dad tells Kaleb to empty the trash. “In a minute,” Kaleb responds, but the minute never comes. Dad tells him a second time and gets no action. Dad may have to rise up from his recliner, set his handheld device aside, and quietly take out the trash with his son. Kaleb learns that there is no third request. No extra attention. No lecture on the way to the garbage. This may need to happen several times. Assuming that Kaleb would prefer not to have his foster father’s help in carrying out the garbage, he is likely to become more responsive.

Foster mom has a difficult time getting 12-year-old Briley out of bed in the morning. Nagging goes nowhere. Briley is consistently late for breakfast and has missed the 8:00 o’clock school bus two days out of three. Mom finally decides to set some deadlines and let Briley face any consequences. She sets an alarm clock for 7:00 and gives Briley one subsequent personal get-up call. Briley is rewarded with a point if she arrives at the breakfast table by 7:30 and another point if she makes the bus. The points are worth small treats or privileges. If she fails to make the bus, mother will drive her to school in return for double time doing chores before she can go out or use her handheld devices.

Some foster parents are less aggravated by outright disobedience than by the unending effort required to get a child to move.  Procrastination is difficult to deal with because it is the absence of any behavior. Don’t waste words. They are only likely to make matters worse. Instead, use a brief plan of small rewards and practical consequences within your control to get some action.  

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