Strategies To Help Children Who Procrastinate

“Not now” and “later on” are common things that a household with older children or teenagers will hear. It could be relating to homework, chores, or just general helping around the house. And in many ways, it can be completely normal. Even us as parents can put off the less than desirable tasks as we have other things to do instead or don’t have the energy right then and there to do them. What is important is noticing if you or your child are an occasional delayer, or if you or they are a proper procrastinator and do so because of an underlying issue. Dealing with children that delay tasks for either reason can be a challenge, but knowing the difference and why your child does it can be even more of a challenge.

The thing is, if children are delaying these kinds of thing at home; by simply not starting them with enough time, not completing them, or not even bothering with them, it can cause them some challenges in life. It can mean lower grades, less freedom due to parental punishments, or the inability to take part in extracurricular activities.

A group of teenagers chatting happily

Some reasons why they will put doing things off could be:

• Boredom or lack of interest

• Poor time management

• Lack of self-discipline

• Lack of empathy and seeing the relevance of the task to them

• Fear of failure or anxiety

As parents, we need to identify why it might be that our children are putting off doing certain things, or just not wanting to do them at all. Do any of these reasons resonate with you? If so, then it is a good idea to intervene. Here are some ways that you can help your child to be more focused and productive…

Use Your Experiences to Share and Relate

Whether our children like it or not, we have been there and done that, so to speak, and can share some of our life experiences. You could talk about how to become a productive student and what changes you had to make when you went off to University, for example. You could share what you struggled with as you were growing up and what you learned, or strategies that helped.

Clarify Your Expectations

If your child puts things off because of anxiety or the perceived thought of failure, then make sure you are clear in what you expect of them. You are highly likely not expecting perfection; so let them know. Focus on the effort it takes to do something, rather than the end product, or the score, or grade.

Help Teach Problem Solving

Children with anxiety will be likely to make a small situation much bigger than it is, in their head. If they perceive failing at a certain task before they’ve even done it, then it could mean to them that they’ll instantly be punished or become unpopular. The scenario is not likely to happen, but the thought that it could might well be enough to put them off. Help your child to do some rational thinking about this and sometimes even talking about worse case scenarios will make them see it is not that bad. Also help problem solving skills and confidence by starting with smaller, more manageable tasks. You can also teach relaxation skills too.

If Anxiety Gets Too Much

If your child has anxiety, it is important to be understanding and support them in beating their anxiety, using approaches that help them feel able to do whatever it is they are trying to achieve. Gentle nudges out of their comfort zone without making it too overwhelming tends to be effective. If their anxiety becomes unmanageable, CBT and/ or self- help strategies can sometimes be very effective. If it gets to a point where anxiety is significantly affecting daily functioning though, please ensure you seek professional help asap.

*This is a collaborative post.

Random Acts of Kindness Day & Valentines Day: Spread Some Love!

Happy (belated) Valentines Day and happy Random Acts of Kindness Day everyone! Firstly, an apology. I had good intentions, I genuinely did. My ‘Spread Some Love’ theme for this year was meant to include a bunch of giveaways for you all; I contacted companies, started to arrange the details… then we were hit with a family bereavement and that sent Squiggle’s anxiety spiralling. With a mental health crisis on our hands, naturally everything else just got thrown to the wayside. So I hope that you all appreciate the sentiment ‘it’s the thought that counts’ and know that I would have done this – and will as soon as we are back on top!

However, in the meantime, Squiggle wrote a message…

Paper heart cut out with message 'Happy Valentines Day! I love Everbody!' written in pink felt tip with hearts over it.

Squiggle had her own ideas about how to spread love too, which fitted in perfectly for both Valentines Day and Random Acts of Kindness Day combined! These were entirely her own initiative of course, which is particularly why I was so touched by her thoughtfulness.

Her first idea is to buy some small plush hearts to give out to people wherever and whenever the mood takes her. So sweet! She also told me to put the heart message (pictured above) in my coat pocket so she could randomly hand it to someone. Lastly, she made a point of smiling, waving and verbally greeting or complimenting everybody she saw in some way. For an autistic child with severe anxiety disorder this is huge! She pushed herself out of her own comfort zone in order to be friendly to others – I am so proud of her!

As for kindness to her family, she gave us this…

Happy valentines day message with lots of colourful hearts drawn and written by Squiggle.

Two hearts - one sweet and one chocolate - in a bowl.

Now this may not seem like much, but Squiggle bought these in Ikea a few days beforehand and thought ahead to Valentines Day by saving some heart ones specifically that she had chosen for us. The fact that she went out of her way to do that and chose to give away something she had meant so much! Like the saying goes; ‘if a child gives you a rock, cherish it. It is all they have to give!’

Relaxation Tips For Children: Dealing With Stress and Anxiety

This post has been written at the request of Squiggle. She specifically asked for advice from other children, for dealing with stress and anxiety, and strategies to help her to relax. We do alot of work on this already and have lots of strategies in our toolkit. But sometimes you just need fresh ideas, or to hear them from someone else! So here are some tips for kids, by kids…

Relaxation Tips For Children: Dealing With Stress and Anxiety. Title written on image of child smelling flowers in a sunny field.

Keep a gratitude jar or list where you write positives, achievements and things you are grateful for to look at when you feel low. ~ Nomipalony

Kids self-help books can be really useful. As can therapy apps. I have written about these here.

My nine year old said a spa day – I feel I’ve taught him well! ~ Twinderelmo

My 3.5 yo just said going outside makes him happy – so guess he’s right, everyone in our family loves to be outside, being close to nature. It’s also proven to reduce stress and anxiety levels. No wonder all kids love to be outside! ~ Captainbobcat

Writing and drawing her own stories helps to alleviate anxiety.

My six year old daughter says spending time with loved ones and her animals makes her happy, relaxed and feel lucky and appreciated. Particularly dog walking and exploring new countryside areas. ~ Family Travel With Ellie

My twelve year-old suggests putting a nice film on and then fall asleep with a blanket. ~ Edinburgh With Kids

My son says to do some mindful deep breathing! ~ Pink Pear Bear

Music – whether it is singing, dancing, listening to it or playing it – is very therapeutic.

My children have both said reading, they like to read before bed and I have found them with books in their hands while fast asleep… they are 7 and 6. ~ Mummy Cat Notes

I write a reasons to be cheerful post everyday on my Facebook page ~ Monkey Footed Mummy

Yoga with the kids! I have 5 and 7 year old boys and even though their attention span on yoga is about ten minutes, it is ten minutes of calm and recentering before we’re onto the next crazy activity. Well worth giving it a shot. ~ Motherhood Diaries

My 5 year old said to eat lots of chocolate! ~ Five Little Doves

Treating yourself can really help, as long as the child understands the need for balance and to moderate.

My 8 year old suggests going to your room and finding your favourite music. Then dance until you feel better! ~ Household Money Saving

My nearly 7 year old has struggled with anxiety over the last few months. We’ve introduced a ‘worry bag’. Every day, she takes a few minutes to write down any of her anxieties on pieces of paper. The paper goes into the worry bag at bedtime and we put the worry bag away. Then once every few days (can be more or less frequent depending on how she’s feeling) we open up the worry bag, and go through all the worries, and work out how to manage each worry. We throw each worry away once we’ve tackled it.

She’s found this really helpful, and is sleeping better and is happier at school as a result. I think the symbolism of writing the worries down, putting them away / throwing them away once we’ve tackled them really seems to help. ~ The Mum Conundrum

Incase anyone else relates to this or finds this information useful, my daughter finds writing down her problems distinctly unhelpful. She described it as making them even more concrete and real. I included the advice anyway because I think it is generally a great strategy for the majority of children and her reaction/ way of looking at it is very rare!

Our 8 year old says, “music, reading and being with her pets” helps her to relax and chill out. ~ Virtually Allsorts

Child sat outside on the grass in sunshine reading a book.

My daughter (10) likes to read her favourite books and escape into imaginary worlds through them. ~ Starlight and Stories

My son likes to draw and paint so he takes the pen or paint brush whenever he feels stressed. It let him pour out his emotions through art expression. ~ My Parenting Journey

Getting enough sleep is essential for a healthy mind.

Playing outside or going for a walk. Great for kids and grown ups alike. In my teens I always put on headphones and laid in bed listening to music to relax. Always slept with my headphones on. Also, hugging someone you love. ~ Mum of 2 point 5

My son gets very anxious alot due to his autism. When he is like that, he loves to organise his train collection! Anything to feel he is in control and it relaxes him. Also, we read books about different feelings to help him understand why he is feeling how he is. Lastly, he says playing football in the park helps him alot! ~ Mother Gets Lippy

When you feel like it’s bubbling up inside, try and stop yourself, close your eyes, take a very deep breath (or two) and see if that changes your immediate response to a situation. If you manage to do it often in the day, you find yourself being more positive or receptive to life’s everyday situations. Hard to do at first, but it can become a (good) habit! ~ Mind Your Mamma

Self-care, including healthy eating and plenty of exercise, really helps.

I just asked my five year old and he suggested Netflix and a duvet with chocolate fingers! From Mammys perspective I find his interest in sports is which causes him to be less stressed, that coupled with minimal screen time; I find it drives them wild! ~ The Mamma Fairy

My 7 year old daughter says bubble bath and quiet time. She loves being by herself to block out noise and just chill out! ~ Country Heart and Home

Totally immerse yourself into a hobby. It can be absolutely anything, from crafts to music, to baking or sports. Getting better at something and seeing the results of your efforts help gain perspective and a more positive outlook on life overall. ~ How To Rock At Parenting

Thank you to all the children who contributed to this post!

*This is a collaborative post.

#TimeToTalk Mental Health 

As it is Time To Talk day, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share some facts about mental health.

Time To Change, Mental Health, #timetotalk, mental illness, Living Life Our Way

Mental health can affect anyone of any age, at any time. In the UK alone, one in four adults experience at least one diagnosable mental health problem in any one year. (The Office for National Statistics Psychiatric Morbidity report, 2001). Furthermore, one in ten children between the ages of one and 15 has a mental health disorder. (The Office for National Statistics Mental health in children and young people in Great Britain, 2005).

People of any age suffering from mental health issues need to be taken seriously and supported by those around them. The stigma that sometimes still exists around this subject in our society must be broken down, because people need to talk openly about mental health problems with the expectation of understanding and acceptance. Sufferers must never feel they have to hide their true feelings from the world, for that is the most dangerous thing of all.

However, as MQ Mental Health research suggests, the majority of young people are not in touch with mental health services and there is a serious lack of funding for such services too. In addition to this, around half of young people with mental illness are concerned about stigma and how they will be treated. This has to change.

As a parent of a child with an anxiety disorder, I know how important it is to talk about this subject and to ensure your child receives the treatment and support they need. Childhood mental health needs to be taken as seriously as adult mental health, and that also should be seen as just as important as any other health issue. But many people believe young children cannot possibly suffer from anxiety, depression or other mental health issues; this is simply not the case. And having a ‘happy childhood’ does not guarantee against it either.

As an article from The Guardian explains “depression (like all mental illnesses) typically doesn’t take personal factors into account. Mental illness can affect anyone….

…Smoking may be a major cause of lung cancer, but non-smokers can end up with it. And a person’s lifestyle doesn’t automatically reduce their suffering. Depression doesn’t work like that…

…Perhaps none of it makes sense from a logical perspective, but insisting on logical thinking from someone in the grips of a mental illness is like insisting that someone with a broken leg walks normally; logically, you shouldn’t do that.”

I’ll leave you from the following message from Jason Manford, written shortly after the death of Robin Williams:

“If you feel alone and down, anxious and low. If you feel deep sadness but can’t find a root cause. If people tell you to ‘snap out of it’ or ‘things can only get better’ or ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’, know that it’s simply not always true. Sometimes it does kill you. Please seek help. No one will think you’re being melodramatic, I swear. No one will think you’re silly or wasting people’s time. No one will say ‘what? But you’re always so happy, maybe you’re just having a bad day’. For some people, every day is a bad day and they get through it, but sometimes they stop getting through it.

If depression can (allegedly) kill Robin Williams, one of the world’s greatest funny men, well it can get any of us at any time. If the Genie from Aladdin can suffer and the DJ in Good Morning Vietnam can be affected by it, then so can you, or your child or friend or work colleague. I always remind myself of the quote from Watchmen: “Man goes to doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life is harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. The great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor… I am Pagliacci.” 

Please. Ask for help. If you have no one or if you don’t want to to tell them yet, then ring Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 for someone to talk to, or talk to your GP. The world needs you even if you don’t think it does. I promise, we need you here, now.” (Jason Manford, August 2014)

If you need more information on mental health and/or where you can find help please visit mentalhealth.org.uk 

PDA Awareness Day

Today is PDA awareness day so I made this brief info video. Apologies if anyone feels that the video moves along abit too fast and is therefore hard to take it in. If so, this is actually a good demonstration of how the world can feel for someone with sensory processing difficulties, which is often one of the many challenges faced by those with PDA (and other types of autism). Pressing the pause button will help with reading and digesting the information if needed, not as simple in real life!