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Book Review:
The Procrastinating Child

by Rita Emmett
Softcover, 180 pages

reviewed by Beverly Morgan
Georgetown TX USA
From: NEW BEGINNINGS, Vol. 22 No. 6, November-December 2005, p. 265

Repeated procrastination may be eroding your relationship with your child and undermining your child's self-confidence. The Procrastinating Child: A Handbook for Adults to Help Children Stop Putting Things Off, by Rita Emmett, helps parents and caregivers uncover the truth behind the excuses and discern whether the excuse hides a habit or a power play. Is the child unable to do the job because he lacks a necessary skill? Does she "forget" to feed the dog nearly every day as a means of gaining control of a situation or asserting her independence?

When parents ask children, again and yet again, to do a job that remains undone -- clean their room, feed the dog, put out the garbage, pick up the toys, or do their homework, the parents may feel annoyed, frustrated, and even betrayed. The child may be feeling frustrated or anxious because he knows he is letting his parents down. The child may feel bad when she sees her more organized peers succeeding while she mumbles more excuses. Over time she may begin to believe that that's just the way she is, labeling herself lazy or disorganized, and feeling powerless to change.

Emmett explores a variety of reasons a person might procrastinate -- from a teen who puts off sending in his college application, to a child who is overwhelmed by a room jumbled with clothes and belongings, to a child who says "I don't like it, so I shouldn't have to do it."

Procrastination problems, Emmett explains, can be solved with some simple strategies. The book lists several tricks to take the "sting" out of overwhelming projects:
Select one task you have been putting off
Time yourself. Give the task one full hour.
Ignore everything else. Focus on doing just this one task.
No breaks allowed.
Give yourself a reward when the job is done.

There are also tips for selecting reasonable and realistic rewards. Here's Ms. Emmett's "buzz" about rewards:
Be realistic and reasonable: a trip to Disney World would be nice, but you are not going to get that for cleaning your room.
Use your creativity: what can you give yourself? Complete a chore first and then go out and play.
Zero in on a meaningful reward so it means enough to you to really get you going.
Zoom in on a now reward, something you can enjoy soon after you finish your project or job.

Parents, grandparents, babysitters, and others who deal with children will all benefit from reading this book. Together, they can develop their strategies for changing procrastination.

Whether your child is three or 13 this book may change your life. Shifting the focus from "a quick fix to make the child shape up" to developing a skill that will help him live a successful life can help to mend frazzled nerves and strained relationships. As an added bonus, caretakers just might discover a few tricks to help with their own procrastination!

Last updated Wednesday, October 25, 2006 by njb.
Page last edited .


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