Many college bound teens procrastinate too much thereby losing their opportunity to get into a good college.

If your teen procrastinates and underachieves, why would your teen want to turn things around? Your teen may want to attend a special college and needs higher grades to get there. There is ample evidence that your teen has the ability to do this. Your teen may want to avoid the pressure that goes with starting late and leaving things undone. These two goals are reasonable and achievable.

Let’s assume that your teen believes that these goals are important to achieve. This is where a parent can make a positive difference.


Imagine yourself speaking to a friend about how to overcome a vexing and frustrating procrastination problem. You quickly discover that your friend believes procrastination is a moral issue--a bad habit you need to eradicate. You sense a moralistic tone. You feel judged. Are you likely to pursue that conversation with a friend with a negative attitude about a problem you want to solve?

Switch the image. Imagine yourself talking to another friend about the same procrastination problem. This friend doesn't judge you. Your friend understands your frustration. Your friend views procrastination as a solvable problem. Are you likely to pursue that conversation with an empathetic friend?

Empathy is the ability to see things from another’s vantage point and understand how they feel. People are normally willing to listen to others who understand them and have helpful ideas. From this perspective, you might have a productive talk with your teen about procrastination.

Now-a-days, empathetic parental support is especially important for teens who struggle to find their way in a world where teen depression and anxiety are on a sharp upswing and where procrastination is a common coexisting factor. Empathetic parent support appears associated with lower levels of needless teen stress, higher levels of confidence, and stronger academic performances.

Empathetic support is important. However, this support doesn’t automatically translate into your teen suddenly overcoming procrastination.

Procrastination is an often misunderstood and challenging problem for people of all ages to unravel and resolve. There are many steps to take along the way to reduce procrastination’s negative effects and to benefit from productive actions.

To address a problem, it’s wise to recognize and understand it. That’s where parent empathetic problem solving comes into play. By accepting your teen’s struggles with procrastination, and showing empathy, you may find your teen views you as a credible resource for being a part of the solution.


What does your teen need to know about procrastination? Procrastination factors include cognitive (I’ll get to it later), emotive (discomfort dodging urges), and behavioral (substituting easier and more fun things for priority assignments—the diversions). When these procrastination factors are operational in situations that trigger procrastination, we can predict a delay of a timely, relevant, priority activity.

Teens, who understand how procrastination unfolds, and how to prevent a procrastination pattern from starting, are in a stronger position to make a radical shift toward addressing academic priorities, without procrastinating, than those whose solution is “to work harder.”


In “The Road Not Taken,” poet Robert Frost wrote: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

There are many roads less traveled. Here’s one. The road to self-mastery is the road where you take charge of yourself and the meaningful and controllable events that take place around you. This road has its own allure and it is not very crowded. Yet, there is room for everyone who works to get there.

Self-mastery includes developing a realistic perspective where reasoned thought evolves to guide responsible actions. The academic results may include higher grades, getting into a desired college, pursuing a career that fits with interests and abilities, and enjoying a broad range of emotional and relationship experiences.

High self-mastery propels productive performances and serves as a buffer against procrastination. Self-mastery correlates with higher levels of confidence, accomplishment, health, and happiness. Adolescence is as good a time as any to pursue self-mastery skills.


Your teen might benefit from a resource on how to develop self-mastery skills.

Overcoming Procrastination for Teens is an off-the-beaten-path self-help book that teaches cognitive, emotive, and behavioral self-mastery skills for substituting effective performances for procrastination distractions.

Your teen will:

1. Find important self-help messages conveyed through memorable stories, myths and metaphors.

2. Learn vicariously from the stories of teens, who struggled with procrastination, and found workable solutions.

3. See how to do no-failure experiments to discover what works to overcome procrastination and what doesn’t.

Empathetic parental problem solving support goes beyond handing out a book and hoping a teen will read it. Personal involvement is important. The form this support takes will vary. The following represents one of many ways to help your teen effectively engage a challenging procrastination problem(s).


An empathetic way to encourage your teen to build self-mastery skills may start with an experiment where both you and your teen test ways to build these skills and where you both commit to supporting each other's challenges. It's easier to be empathic when you have a common cause.

You start with empathy and then set your sights on specific goals. 

People generally perform at higher levels when they have specific goals that are relevant, meaningful, measurable, and attainable. For example, you are out of shape and want to get physically fit. That's your challenge. Your teen can meet a procrastination challenge at the same time that you do. For example, your teen wants to earn a B+ average to qualify for a special college that requires no less than that performance. You teen can do this. That's you teen's challenge.

So, what’s the plan for achieving these goals? Start with a suggestion.  

You and your teen choose the same experiments from the Overcoming Procrastination for Teens book. You test them out on yourselves. For example, chapter 7 shows how to implement a self-mastery plan using a tested executive strategy that correlates with higher grades. You can adopt the approach for your physical exercise program. To help each other, you and your teen share what you are learning from the experiments .

As your teen builds self-mastery skills, you fade your formal involvement on the chapter 7 experiment. Meanwhile, you continue to work on your self-mastery challenge. In this way, you model persistence. By persisting, you send a message that your teen is likely to favorably receive.

Here is another message--perhaps a more important one. You probably won’t be perfect. You teen doesn't need to be perfect. Progress is often a struggle of old ways competing with new ways of doing things. Lapses are part of this process. That's an empathic view.

If you believe a self-mastery approach may support your teen’s development, click on Overcoming Procrastination for Teens.                           

                                      In memory of Runner

                                     We miss you little guy



                 Dr. Bill Knaus, author of End Procrastination Now


                              The Procrastination Workbook

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