Ask the Experts

Q: Why Does My Child Procrastinate?

Do you know why your child procrastinates? Time blindness, disorganization, executive dysfunction, and other ADHD symptoms can spark procrastination. Here is how you can help.

Q: “I’ve heard that students procrastinate differently than adults and for so many different reasons. How can I help my son? He can’t get anything done unless I tell him to, and even then he says he will do it ‘soon’ or ‘in a while.’” – FrustratedMom


Hi FrustratedMom:

The key to managing procrastination is to truly understand why you do it in the first place — not an easy task, I know, and even more difficult for students with ADHD. I can offer you all kinds of tips, tools, strategies, and systems for your son, but none of them will be truly effective until he understands his roadblocks. Simply put, different types of procrastination need different tools to help manage them.

I do feel that a student’s procrastination can look different from an adult’s. As an academic/life coach for teens and college students, I hear constantly from my students that they feel powerless and want control over their time and “tasks.” Getting motivated to do what someone else determines important or timely is truly difficult, especially if they don’t know how!

That is the root cause of procrastination for many students. Whether they are time blind, disorganized, unprepared for an exam, or unable to plan ahead, the cause is usually based in “I don’t know how,” not in “I don’t want to.”

Also, please remember that procrastinating doesn’t necessarily make you a procrastinator. We all put things off from time to time. We all say we’ll do it later. We don’t always finish what we start — and sometimes it’s really not horrible.

[Click to Read: Preventing Procrastination 101]

For some students, particularly those with ADHD, waiting until the last-minute works. It gets them activated. They see the immediate deadline and it jumpstarts their engine. For those of us who get things done two weeks in advance (that would be me), this may be a hard pill to swallow. I had to remember that my son is a “last minute kind of guy,” and getting him to do things way in advance stunted his creativity.

I hope you will check out my newest book,How to Do It Now Because It’s Not Going Away: An Expert Guide To Getting Stuff Done (#CommissionsEarned), where I dive deep into students’ procrastination.

Good Luck!

Procrastination: Next Steps


ADHD Family Coach Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, will answer questions from ADDitude readers about everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone bedrooms and from mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time.

Submit your questions to the ADHD Family Coach here!


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Updated on November 6, 2020

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