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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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.

astrojax astrojax 9:27 am 05 Dec 10

terubo said :

Your teenager may also be concerned about the way you spell your name, Monika.

um, this is a bit of a culturally insensitive comment – is the op from a germanic background, perhaps? and this from someone who can’t spell ‘turbo’ 😉

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

as to the op’s query, i agree with those above who have noted that this is normal behaviour for a teenager – though the door banging and other disruptions to your night’s rest are reprehensible and you should discuss this with him.

perhaps a visit to his teachers and have them assign work in discrete chunks that are more manageable might make the all-niters half niters, if more often. 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…

Grail Grail 11:26 pm 04 Dec 10

Dave Allen’s “Getting Things Done”

Make sure you work with him to do daily and weekly reviews. Make sure you let him set his own goals.

breda breda 10:18 pm 04 Dec 10

He is perfectly suited to some jobs in the Public Service, like drafting answers to possible Parliamentary Questions, in an hour, first thing in the morning.

There is nothing wrong with someone who needs a short deadline to spur them on. Unless you are a PhD student, that is life.

Annoying other people while he is writing essays is not on, and wouldn’t be no matter where he lived. Separate issue. Get up and tell (not ask) him to cut it out. Repeat as required. Consider measures like playing 1950s rock and roll every time he does it, if gentler responses do not work.

terubo terubo 9:43 pm 04 Dec 10

Your teenager may also be concerned about the way you spell your name, Monika.

el el 8:04 pm 04 Dec 10

Remove all doors and light switches from the premises, or kick him out. Problem solved.

You’re welcome.

akinom akinom 5:21 pm 04 Dec 10

Thank you for all your comments. There’s a lot to think about there.

georgesgenitals georgesgenitals 4:55 pm 04 Dec 10

Could be worse. He could be a profactionator.

Samuel Gordon-Stewart Samuel Gordon-Stewart 4:22 pm 04 Dec 10

I wouldn’t change his studying habits, especially as it seems to be working for him. What I would look at addressing is the noise and disturbance issues that this is causing for the rest of the household. Have a discussion about the need for other people in the house to sleep and the fact that banging doors is not appreciated by the rest of the household.

As for the turning lights on and off bit, well your bedroom has a door, use it. Your teenager needs to use the household’s lights in order to study or get to other parts of the house (eg. the kitchen) and this should not be a problem if you simply close your bedroom door.

A bit of give and take should solve the problem. Your teen agrees to be a bit quieter, and you agree to close your door. If your teen won’t agree to this, then your teen is being unreasonable and other measures need to be taken, however forcefully changing their study system which works for them is NOT the answer and will only result in worse academic outcomes.

It might also be worthwhile asking your teen about their workload, as I’d be surprised if they are leaving everything to the last minute. Often when I was in years 10, 11 and 12 a good half a dozen or more important assessment items would be due in the same week, meaning that no matter how much work I did before the due date, I was always left with a lot of work in the last few days. Usually I would do a lot of work before-hand on the assessment items which were interesting to me, and less work on the ones which either didn’t interest me or clearly required less work. I would then, in the last few days, compile and often re-write large chunks of the ones which I had done a lot of work on, and do whatever needed to be done on the ones which required less work or simply were uninteresting or quite unimportant in the grand scheme of things. The night before an item was due ALWAYS resulted in finishing the job, proof-reading, making the item more presentable etc.

My way didn’t always look productive or efficient from the outside, but I always knew at every moment what I was prioritising and what I needed to do on any given day. I strongly believe that most students who achieve decent grades have their own similar system which works for them and doesn’t necessarily make sense to people who are looking on..and for most students, explaining their system isn’t a high priority as they aren’t outsourcing their work.

From your description, your kid sounds smart to me and more than capable of managing their own workload without somebody else dictating a system to them. I think a chat and some compromise on the night-time noise/interruption burden is all that is really needed here.

Gerry-Built Gerry-Built 4:07 pm 04 Dec 10

I once put a “Homework/assignment advice” sheet together for my students. When my Principal got wind of it, she told me that I couldn’t distribute that sort of material as it could be seen to be too “preachy”…

There is plenty of good advice online – try Googling various study-type words and also “time +management +student”… this was one of my better finds

housebound housebound 4:01 pm 04 Dec 10

Only two suggestions:
1. ban doorbanging and lightswitching, using whatever it takes (loss of a much-wanted privelege usually works, but will get more doorbagning and lightswitching in the short term) – whatever you do will give short term pain on this one

2. let him crash and burn and help pickup the pieces when it happens. You could also try the early panic approach – so see if you can get him to do his all-nighter a week early – but I don’t like your chances. This is one reason skill-based subjects like music are good.

Your child could just be really bright but have poor social skills. In that case, forget the deadline thing and get working on how to live with people!

Eby Eby 3:51 pm 04 Dec 10

I actually think it would be really useful (for you and him) if you just had a chat to him about it.

Tell him how proud you are of him; his commitment and good grades. Say that you’re worried he will burn out by staying up all night. Then say that he needs to be more mindful when he does stay up at night, that although he may work well at night, other people in the house need to sleep; and so he needs to keep noises, movement and light to a bare minimum.

Ultimately it’s his decision on how he works, especially if he is getting good grades out of it. Where you do have traction is in how his behaviour affects others at night.

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