One of the biggest mistakes my wife and I made with two of our children was to allow them to move on without finishing things in a timely manner. Instead, I have had to help my teens on many occasions as they work hectically under a tight timeline.
My wife and I have always had a bit of a problem with procrastination (all right, mainly me). So yes, it’s led to some bad habits in our offspring. As they hit high school, this bad habit of procrastination only got worse, which led to a significant level of academic stress.
We made up for it with our younger two, and along the way, their older siblings followed suit. But it would have been so much easier for everyone if they had learned to be proactive and productive from an earlier age.
Proactivity and Productivity Are Key Life Skills
There are two skills we can instill in our children to get them ready for the years ahead. One is productivity, which is the art of getting more done. It includes time-management, prioritizing and learning how to finish each task in turn rather than dividing focus too many ways. Productivity is a necessary talent for anyone, whether they are in high school, college or in their the career field.
Second, there is the life skill proactivity. This one can be applied to many different areas of life, but I am specifically referring to how it might be used for getting ahead in an academic and professional sense. An example of this would be the proactive teen seeing the science fair is coming up and they have two months to work on their project. This teen will begin researching and working immediately, rather than taking the majority of the two months as time to push off their work.
However, procrastination is not merely putting off tasks to the last minute. It is not bothering to doing anything before they ever come close to being due, allowing pressure and stress to build up. All of us who went to college in particular probably learned the hard way that it isn’t enough to keep your grades up, you have to keep a step before the deadlines. Otherwise, a single misstep, illness or bad week can snowball into disaster.
Proactivity as a habit will help your teen avoid this fate, which can end up affecting every part of their lives, even on a personal basis.
Have Multiple Conversations With Your Teen
Your teen probably won’t appreciate the lesson at the time. But when they are taking five classes over an accelerated summer semester and have to write a research paper for every one of them, they are going to see how having productivity and proactivity drilled into them was a major benefit.
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So, how do you do that? Mostly, parents can accomplish this through persistence and consistency. Some of the things your teen needs to know are:
- Work comes before play.
- Leaving it to the last minute makes the work much harder.
- If they miss a deadline you aren’t going to help get them out of it.
- Proactivity feels good!
Whether they acknowledge the positives of proactivity in the moment, your teen can still build this all-important habit along the way and benefit from it down the road.