Looking back, I should have been much more consistent not only with discipline, but with a set bedtime, wake time, and meal times. There should have been more consistency with chores and schoolwork. Change was not only difficult for my rebel to deal with, but it was almost impossible because of the disturbance it would cause in his/her spirit and in the whole family. Consistency and regularity bring stability to the whole family, but especially to this one who is easily distracted or highly disturbed by any change in routine. If you tend to be spontaneous, you may need to change your own habits to reflect more constancy, which can bring peace to your days and especially to your rebel. These types of children need to know what’s going to happen and when. They need to know what will happen if . . . , and they need to know that Mom and Dad will always follow through.

Breaking the Procrastination Cycle

There were days that were so intense and difficult that schoolwork never happened for this child. Procrastination or distraction by other things often resulted in the loss of several days of productive schoolwork. One full day with Dad at his workplace with a backpack full of schoolbooks made short work of catching up on those unproductive days. Many play dates or extracurricular activities were denied because of unfinished schoolwork and chores or, most importantly, because of lack of obedience or respect.

The Words of a Former Rebel: “Procrastination makes things much worse. You miss the fun times with the family and you rarely get to see your friends. You get in a bad cycle and have a constant miserable feeling. You go to bed feeling guilty and feeling like you can never change and wake up feeling like you can never get caught up, so you don’t even try.”

So how did we help our rebel break the cycle of procrastination? We talked about ways to facilitate success together. We prayed and asked for God’s strength together. We came up with practical things to ease the load. We decided to cut math lessons down, not requiring every problem to be solved, as math was a real Achilles’ heel. We took away any frivolous busywork that didn’t provide any new knowledge. Our rebel acquired knowledge and retained things quickly, so we decided that we didn’t need anything repetitious. We found friends who were using the same curriculum, which helped stir up a little friendly competition (which our rebel enjoyed).

Tangible rewards were the best motivators. Free time was not an effective reward for our rebel, because it just ended up being “more of the same.” Let me explain. Throughout the day the rebel wasted time on distractions, so to be offered more free time (which would most likely be frittered away) was not an appealing offer, at least not as appealing as something tangible. Telling the rebel about the potential for rewards early in the day helped our rebel stay on course. When our rebel was younger, we offered rewards that were tangible and given immediately (books, treats, picnics, movies). As they have grown, the rewards are more like “gifts of time,” such as spending time with Mom on a shopping trip, having a friend over, renting a favorite movie, or making a favorite food together.

Distractions

Distractions were a huge factor in our rebel’s habit of procrastination. Everything distracted our rebel. He/She had the ability to simultaneously process input from all the senses and keep track of it all! Some would call that “over-stimulation of the senses.” It literally drives our rebel crazy to hear and understand everyone’s conversations and household noises and take in the sights and smells from everywhere in the house in a family the size of ours!