Procrastinating Children Aren't Lazy
October is scary NOT just because of Halloween and goblins, it's
also the month that most schools send out the first report card of the
year. And have the first parent-teacher conference. Consequently, it's
also the month that many parents are beating their heads against the
wall wailing. "Why doesn't he turn in his homework on time." or "If
she only studied a few minutes, she would have passed that test." or
"They're smart; they're just lazy, Lazy, LAZY."
Rita Emmett, author of the first and only book published to help young
procrastinators, The Procrastinating Child: A Handbook For Adults
To Help Children Stop Putting Things Off, disagrees.
Emmett says, “You will not find the word ‘lazy’ anywhere in this book.
I believe kids procrastinate for a number of reasons, but lazy isn't
one of them. When smart children do poorly with homework, parents have
to be detectives to help them figure out what the problem is.
Otherwise, parents are working to solve the wrong problem.”
Is there a chance that your child:
CAN'T SEE THE BOARD WHERE THE HOMEWORK IS WRITTEN?
Besides asking your child, ask the teacher if this could be the
NEEDS TOOLS TO RECORD HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENTS?
Let your child accompany you to an office supply store to see if there
is anything that might help him feel more organized in recording
homework. If he is part of the shopping and selecting, he'll be more
likely to use whatever you buy.
HAS A LEARNING DISABILITY AND NEEDS SPECIAL HELP?
Talk to the teacher. If that doesn't help but you still suspect
something, look up Learning Disabilities on the computer (or have a
computer-geek-friend look it up) and read all you can about it. If
something seems to describe your child, print it out. If you don't
want to encounter the teacher again, ask to speak to the school social
NEEDS RULES IN THE HOME TO AVOID PROCRASTINATION?
Your child might now WANT these rules but might need them. Rules such
as: After dinner, do homework first, then watch TV, or play, or use
the computer, or call your friends, or whatever it is your child loves
NEEDS A BETTER PLACE TO DO HOMEWORK?
Maybe your children are too distracted where they do homework, and
they might need you to help them find a quiet spot to work. Or the
opposite might be true. Perhaps YOU loved working at a desk in your
room, but your child might feel isolated and cut off. She might need
to work at the kitchen or dining room table. If you're concerned that
the other kids or TV might distract her, tell her "You can do your
homework here as long as you do it well, you complete it and hand it
in on time. If not, then you won't do your work here, get it?"
NEEDS A ROUTINE TIME FOR SCHOOL WORK?
Enforcing a regular schedule to do homework helps them know what is
expected of them and eventually cuts down on battles with you.
NEEDS TO CHANGE THE ROUTINE?
When our son was six, the teacher encouraged us to teach him to sit
down as soon as he arrived home to do his school work. It didn't work.
This kid needed to run around outside and let off steam before he
could settle down to work. What works for one child might not work for
These are just a sample of the problems you might uncover. Work as a
team with your child with both of you trying (like detectives) to
figure out what is sabotaging her doing a good job with homework. When
she sees that you care enough to search for a solution, she's more
likely to become cooperative and together you might find the answer.
This will bring much more positive results than simply deciding that
your child is not doing homework because she or he is lazy.
And now it's time to put on your detective hat. That's not something
you'd ever procrastinate about, is it?
Please use this bio:
Rita Emmett, author of The Procrastinator’s Handbook, is
a professional speaker who presents Keynotes and Seminars nationwide.
She can be reached at 847-699-9950 and email is
To subscribe to her free monthly Anticrastination Tip sheet with quick
short tips & ideas to help break the procrastination habit, go to the
first page of her website
Back to Journalist Main