Procrastination and poor decision making in your teen
Do you have issues with getting your teen listen to you? Does your teen keep delaying his chores at home or at school? Is he or she selectively active in doing things which he/ she likes the best. Have you tried to get your teen help, he or she needs but lead to no success?
This article is primarily on two things on how to get your teen listen to you and to understand why do our children procrastinate? From staying out of home at a friend's party, to some seriously questionable outfit choices, teenagers often do things that seem outlandishly stupid.
But thanks to the advancement in research that we now know why: the areas of the brain that control decision-making doesn’t fully develop until early adulthood. A teen's developing brain places them at greater risk of being reactive in their decision-making, and less able to consider the consequences of their choices.
Parents will often note that the teen possess the cognitive ability to thrive in school and in the home and will express frustration regarding their difficulty in understanding why he does not make any progress.
It is not unusual that some parents with children like these will take a corrective approach where they see to it that the teen experiences unfavorable consequences for his failures in following through with his obligations.
Another common route some parents in these circumstances will take is the tough love approach, where the parents allow the teen to experience the natural and logical consequences for his or her failures for not following through with personal obligations.
Neither of these approaches may be effective in getting the teen to change his or her behaviors in the long run, because they fail to address the fundamental cause for the teen’s procrastination or stalling in following through with important and daily obligations.
There is an effective strategy parents in this situation can use to find common ground with their teen. This strategy is not manipulation, nor does it involve any need for the parent to enforce any disciplinary action. This strategy is simply about finding out what your teen wants.
As simple as this strategy is, it is something that is most likely very difficult for the teen, as he or she may be experiencing one or two things.
- First, your teen may not know what he or she wants at all and may be simmering in a ball of overwhelm and confusion.
- Second, your teen may be very aware of what he or she wants but may be at a loss on how to go about getting what he or she wants.
Regardless of which case applies to your teen, go about asking him or her the simple question, “what do you want?” What’s more important than this question is the timing and situation during which you ask this question.
Do not ask this question after an argument or quarrel, rather you want to ask this question when your teen is in the best possible mood you have seen him or her in a long time.
It is also important to note that you also must be in a good mood yourself. You also shouldn’t bother faking it, as your teen has most likely become very adept at reading you. This means that all issues which bring about back talks and episodes of defiance should be temporarily quashed for at least a week.
So, when you ask your teen about what he or she wants from his or her life moving forward, you want to explain your concerns, regarding your observations about his or her struggles. This needs to be communicated without judgement.
Regardless of where your teen is on the spectrum of not knowing what he or she wants, to knowing but not knowing how to get what he or she wants, you will become pleasantly surprised to your teen’s willingness to open to you about his or her concerns.
It is also important to remember to avoid coming across as someone who has the answers (even though you do). You want to get your teen to buy in and commit to a process of getting his or her life back on track, for preparation for his or her successful future.
There lies the power of this strategy, teens often do think about their future, and those who struggle often experience a lot of stress about what their future might be.
(The author is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Learning Arena, an e-learning company)