Time Management for Teenagers in Canberra

akinom 4 December 2010 51

I have a 16 year old starting at Narrabundah College next year. He is a perfectionist and, worse, a procrastinator. He leaves assignments to the last minute, and spends all night working on them. Unfortunately, he gets very good grades (As and Bs).

So the system rewards this practice. But the rest of the household is upheaved every time this happens – he turns lights on and off, paces around the house looking for stuff, and bangs doors. My teenager refuses to plan and lacks empathy for the rest of the household.

One solution suggested to me was enrolling him in a time management course. Does anyone know of any good courses coming up over summer or early next year? Any other suggestions for coping with this behaviour would also be welcome.


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somewhere_between_bundah_and_goulburn somewhere_between_bundah_and_goulburn 11:11 pm 07 Dec 10

Fiona said :

The Unis run them for their students, perhaps a suggestion that the college can seek interest in holding one there?

As a former Bundah student (graduated this year), and they organise study skills days with UC twice a year during moderation day.

deezagood deezagood 8:14 am 07 Dec 10

Hi Akonim – this must be extremely frustrating for you as a parent … and your son sounds exactly like I was at his age. The bad news – there really is nothing you can do about it. My parents wasted money and time trying all sorts of things to help me, but the chronic procrastination/perfectionist tendency is a difficult one to curb. I coasted along, doing things at the last minute, until things got really hard in year 12 … and then I ended up learning a huge life lesson by only getting into a second rate university and not into my preferred degree. Did I learn this lesson and stop procrastinating? Nope, I still do this (I’m 42) and yes, the whole family does suffer for it during my periods of intense time-pressure. I just can’t, no matter how hard I try, do the work unless I am under time-pressure. It’s just the way I roll. I have to say that this unfortunate study habit and tendency to leave things until the last minute hasn’t impacted too badly on my academic life thus far (I’m currently completing my Doctorate – in good time too!). I know it’s hard, but maybe just try to accept that this is your child’s modus operandi, drop him off at the National Library to work when he is under-the-pump (or find somewhere else where he can pull his all-nighters) and feel assured that it is possible to survive and thrive in life as a procrastinator (I only procrastinate with study stuff – everything else is done before time!). The other thing you could try is setting him your own strict deadlines (I want to see 500 words by Thursday, another 500 by Sunday etc…) with punishments or incentives attached for non/compliance – you won’t change his intrinsic behaviour this way – but it may make your life more bearable. Most teenagers do tend to lack empathy for others (they are selfish little beasties by design)… but they outgrow it!! Good luck.

akinom akinom 4:59 am 07 Dec 10

From the OP. Thanks to those of you who provided constructive comments. I really appreciate it.

Sandpiper Sandpiper 9:47 pm 06 Dec 10

Hi there OP,

There are state associations for gifted & talented children (if you don’t already know of them) and they provide advice and support for issues including discipline and study issues common in gifted kids. It is a very common issue for gifted kids. http://nswagtc.org.au/mynswagtc/support-groups.html

However in my past experience the associations/support groups mainly consist of parents of younger children and have little available for teens. I guess it reflects the perceived needs of the children throughout the stages of the education system and how it caters or not to differentiated learning.

In issues such as you describe I believe that discipline is important but also understanding properly the underlying issues and whether behaviour is originating from insufficient challenge. Like with any child who is not behaving appropriately, discipline is not entirely useful if the underlying issues are not understood, acknowledged and dealt with. Attending to both is important and the gifted support lines/groups can help you talk through the issue informally without labelling you for seeking support.

This is not to say time management would not be beneficial, just additional info. I don’t personally know of any time management courses but the support groups might be able to help you there.

ace2279 ace2279 10:03 am 06 Dec 10

Hi OP

I might be able to provide you with some help/ideas for your son. I’m a coach that has over ten year’s experience working with young people helping them set some goals and plans and to manage them well.

Would love to chat further, you can contact me through my site http://www.edwardscoaching.com

Thanks

Andrew

Pommy bastard Pommy bastard 9:19 am 06 Dec 10

A reasonable reply beejay 76, the only thing I would disagree with is;

beejay76 said :

I find it a little strange that you seem to think that the parent is not taking responsibility. There is a problem, the parent is exploring solutions. Sounds like taking responsibility to me.

The parent is looking for someone else to tackle the problem, a problem it appears to me they have created by not nipping this situation in the bud at the outset, thus allowing it to develop to the point where the whole family is affected.

They are now looking for someone else to sort things out for them.

georgesgenitals georgesgenitals 8:40 am 06 Dec 10

I’d say the first response should be to kick him up the bum and micro manage his homework for a while. Lots of smart kids do this, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with them (other than being a bit slack).

astrojax astrojax 8:16 pm 05 Dec 10

I-filed said :

Sounding like high-functioning Aspergers … if he “lacks empathy” he will definitely not succeed in life regardless of high marks. I’d seek advice from professionals about this – he may need to be realistic about his career path if he isn’t likely to develop people skills (such as not banging around disturbing people in the night), and may need to be doing laboratory research or suchlike rather than interacting with people much. If he gets that news from a third party, he might start to modify his behaviour. And getting high marks doesn’t justify disturbing you or the rest of the family – perhaps you are treading on eggshells around him because he is scary if you try to discipline him? If that’s the case, really important to get help and support.

oh, and while this advice is quite sage, i’d be careful, i-filed, on how you use ‘definitely’: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temple_Grandin but doesn’t necessarily sound like asperger’s – nothing about his social skills outside these upheavals. could be an anxiety disorder, which is mentioned by someone else (too lazy to go back and see who) and this should certainly attract some competent attention…

beejay76 beejay76 5:27 pm 05 Dec 10

Pommy bastard said :

But this kid is not “paralysed”, he’s just leaving everything to the last moment, then acting out.

See what I mean about “counselling being a universal panacea”? It’s now a palliative for Aspergers it woud seem.

You have totally avoided the fact though, that what this kid is doing is normal, and would probably be best “treated” by the parente taking their responsibilities a bit more firmly in grasp.

Perfectionism is on a scale. I didn’t say this person was at the most extreme end, but I was trying to explain that procrastination and perfectionism aren’t mutually exclusive. I know what you mean about counselling being a universal panacea. I agree somewhat, but CBT is actually very useful for Asperger’s, and also a gold standard treatment for anxiety/ depression. If the child is experiencing anxiety related to perfectionism that prevents him from working effectively or causes distress, CBT could be very useful indeed.

Or, of course, it may be completely normal. As I’ve said, my comments were based on the assumption that there was something else going on. If not, I’m sure the OP will ignore my comments as useless, and that’s no problem at all.

I find it a little strange that you seem to think that the parent is not taking responsibility. There is a problem, the parent is exploring solutions. Sounds like taking responsibility to me.

shadow boxer shadow boxer 5:04 pm 05 Dec 10

Wouldn’t that be severe lack of self esteem or feeling of inadequacy rather than perfectionism ?

There is a common symptom of never being satisfied but that appears far from the case in the above example.

Pommy bastard Pommy bastard 4:47 pm 05 Dec 10

But this kid is not “paralysed”, he’s just leaving everything to the last moment, then acting out.

See what I mean about “counselling being a universal panacea”? It’s now a palliative for Aspergers it woud seem.

You have totally avoided the fact though, that what this kid is doing is normal, and would probably be best “treated” by the parente taking their responsibilities a bit more firmly in grasp.

astrojax astrojax 3:40 pm 05 Dec 10

i know terubo is not supposed to be ‘turbo’, but the germans spell monica with a ‘k’…

I-filed said :

astrojax said :

be thankful you have a bright kid and remember to praise his excellence, while not forgetting to work with him to solve some of his less endearing habits…

About the worst thing you can do for a child – fatal to their prospects – is praise them simply for “being bright”. “Being bright” is about 10 per cent of the picture. Nothing will set a child up for failure like telling them they are highly intelligent and letting “cramming ahead of an exam or assignment deadline” substitute for consistent hard work. We all know people who blitzed all the way through school with straight A results – then couldn’t cut it at uni or at work. There is NO excellence in passing school exams through cramming. Excellence is overall achievement.

and i disagree that praise is ever fatal, but i did then also specifically note that working with someone to address any problems is required. i certainly agree that simply praising someone for being bright doesn’t help = but argue that it doesn’t hurt. self esteem may be an issue and not acknowledging success is detrimental…

beejay76 beejay76 3:26 pm 05 Dec 10

Pommy bastard: I suggested counselling as I remember (I hope correctly) that this poster mentioned somewhere else that they had a child with Asberger’s. Given the behaviour described, I assumed (perhaps erroneously) that it’s the same child. I didn’t think a group time management class would work for such a child, and also, given that his marks aren’t suffering, it might be an option to help with the more troublesome symptoms of pacing and whatnot.

And, you can have your definition of perfectionism if you want, but it’s only one. It ignores the people who are perfectionistic to the point of dysfunction. I worked with many of them on an eating disorders/ acute psychiatric ward. Extreme perfectionism = paralysis in many cases.

Gerry-Built Gerry-Built 2:21 pm 05 Dec 10

Pommy bastard said :

Utter rubbish.

A perfectionist will ensure they have MORE than ample time for a task. The use of “perfectionist” in this case is symptomatic of the problem, as the parent views the child as something they are not, and give it a title which sounds like a good thing, but in fact is a negative.

I think what AKINOM has mistaken for perfectionism is simply part of procrastination. I see plenty of students do similar (to what I have assumed OP meant by perfectionist), spending more time on appearance, formatting etc rather than content, and than getting really upset by their appalling mark. It is some sort of avoidance for actual, real, meaningful work/research/thinking. Nowadays we have to “scaffold” the construction of research for most students (even older ones); providing them with “graphic organisers” (read “worksheets”) which model the appropriate way of seeking and presenting information in a step-by-step method, based, I guess, on the way their cut-n-paste brains now work…

Here is a lovely saying that is well known among Educationalists, that I’d like to share: Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance…

Gerry-Built Gerry-Built 1:59 pm 05 Dec 10

astrojax said :

[why do emoticons display themselves after where you type them on the riot?]

It’s a scam to get you to buy premium membership… [insert emoticon here]

😛

[hint] Sometimes, if you do a preview first, you can fix the location it appears… but not in this case LOL

georgesgenitals georgesgenitals 1:33 pm 05 Dec 10

Sound to me like he needs a kick in the arse, like most teenage boys do from time to time.

I-filed I-filed 12:41 pm 05 Dec 10

astrojax said :

be thankful you have a bright kid and remember to praise his excellence, while not forgetting to work with him to solve some of his less endearing habits…

About the worst thing you can do for a child – fatal to their prospects – is praise them simply for “being bright”. “Being bright” is about 10 per cent of the picture. Nothing will set a child up for failure like telling them they are highly intelligent and letting “cramming ahead of an exam or assignment deadline” substitute for consistent hard work. We all know people who blitzed all the way through school with straight A results – then couldn’t cut it at uni or at work. There is NO excellence in passing school exams through cramming. Excellence is overall achievement.

terubo terubo 12:05 pm 05 Dec 10

You’re light on brain-power today, astrojax (or should that be astrojacks?). ‘akinom’ is ‘monika’ backwards, and ‘terubo’ is an Indonesian word.

Pommy bastard Pommy bastard 11:00 am 05 Dec 10

beejay76 said :

Pommy bastard said :

Procrastinator ? perfectionist.

If he was a perfectionist he would not be procrastinating.

Yes, you can procrastinate and be a perfectionist.

Utter rubbish.

A perfectionist will ensure they have MORE than ample time for a task. The use of “perfectionist” in this case is symptomatic of the problem, as the parent views the child as something they are not, and give it a title which sounds lie a good thing, but in fact is a negative.

. According to Mallinger and DeWyze, perfectionists are obsessives who need to feel in control at all times to protect themselves and ensure their own safety. By being constantly vigilant and trying extremely hard, they can ensure that they not only fail to disappoint or are beyond reproach but that they can protect against unforeseen issues (such as economic downturn).

What this child does is procrastinate and then inappropriately behave to let his parents know he is fulfilling their wishes.

I-filed I-filed 10:41 am 05 Dec 10

Sounding like high-functioning Aspergers … if he “lacks empathy” he will definitely not succeed in life regardless of high marks. I’d seek advice from professionals about this – he may need to be realistic about his career path if he isn’t likely to develop people skills (such as not banging around disturbing people in the night), and may need to be doing laboratory research or suchlike rather than interacting with people much. If he gets that news from a third party, he might start to modify his behaviour. And getting high marks doesn’t justify disturbing you or the rest of the family – perhaps you are treading on eggshells around him because he is scary if you try to discipline him? If that’s the case, really important to get help and support.

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