Why Kids Procrastinate and How To Help
with Leslie Josel
One of the top complaints from parents is procrastination. Kids procrastinate on a variety of things, but the most common are schoolwork and chores. The key to resolving procrastination (or letting it go) is to understand the reasons behind it. Does your child wait until the last minute for a reason? Does your teen refuse the tools you suggest for a reason? Yes, there’s always a reason. In this episode of the Parenting ADHD Podcast, Leslie Josel, an ADHD-academic and parenting coach, explains how to understand your child’s brain and procrastination, as well as what to do to honor how your child functions while also getting important things done.
Resources in this Episode
NOTE: Some of the resources below may be affiliate links, meaning I receive a commission (at no cost to you) if you use that link to make a purchase.
She is also the creator of the award-winning Academic Planner: A Tool for Time Management®, a planner that helps students develop time management skills, and the author of 3 books including the recently published, “How to Do it Now Because it’s Not Going Away: An Expert Guide to Getting Stuff Done.” Leslie also writes the weekly “Dear ADHD Family Coach” column for ADDitude Magazine. She speaks to audiences all over the world helping them utilize their resources to best navigate the task-driven world in which they live. Last year, Leslie’s line of student organizing products – a collaboration with Samsill Corp – was released.
And for the last four years, Leslie has been named by Global Gurus as one of the top 20 Time Management experts in the world.
Thanks for joining me!
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Intro (00:00): Procrastination is masking the lack of skill, and it's the equivalent of, I can only lift a two pound weight, but you're now handing me a 20 pound weight and I just can't lift it. So I'm just going to check it out the door and I'm going to go to something else.
Penny Williams (00:19): Welcome to the parenting ADHD podcast, where I share insights and strategies on raising kids with ADHD straight from the trenches. I'm your host, penny Williams. I'm a parenting coach, author ADHD, aholic and mindset. Mama honored to guide you on the journey of raising your atypical kid. Let's get started.
Penny Williams (00:47): Welcome back to the parenting ADHD podcast. I'm really excited today to have Leslie Jostle back with us on the podcast. And we are going to talk about procrastination. That thing that bugs us so much about our kids sometimes never getting anything done, putting it off for later. You know, I have that kid who's always later, later, later. So Leslie is going to give us some really great insights as to why our kids are procrastinating, what it's like for them, and also some strategies to help them out and improve in that area. Thanks so much for being here again, Leslie, I always enjoy talking to you.
Leslie Josel (01:28): I love being here. Thank you. Thank you.
Penny Williams (01:31): Yeah. Start by letting everybody know who you are and what you do.
Leslie Josel (01:35): Sure. So I am an academic life coach for teens and college students with ADHD and LT, but I am the owner of order out of chaos, been around now for about 16 years. So I'm old, but we are a very robust global virtual community of parents and students who come to us for products and programs, workshops, webinars, and coaching to help students be successful in learning and life is how we say it because we put as much emphasis on life skills as we do school skills. I also write the weekly dear ADHD, family coach column for attitude magazine. I bring A's to people's skews. So people know me as the academic planner girl. That's a funny one. They're like, wait, your order out of chaos. I, we created academic planners that are tools for time management and, write books and run a company and everything else. So, but those are the, I think those are the main, main points, but that's sometimes how people know me is through attitude or the planners or order out of chaos where my community.
Penny Williams (02:44): Yeah. I've known about your planters for years. Probably 10 or 12 years. Yeah. 10 years. That's how we connected. And it's going strong still, which is amazing. It's such a great tool.
Leslie Josel (02:57): And by the fact that I know we should talk about this, but I just, I love fun backs cause I'm a, I'm such a Virgo. I liked him. I like information is I do some work with the paper, like association of America and they do this back to school survey every year. And the fastest growing population of planners papers or paper planners have grown like crazy over the last five years. But the fastest growing population who are using them are actually college students. So I think that's so interesting that college students who grew up on, digital and computers and all that are now going back to paper planning for a host of reason. So just a little fun fact there
Penny Williams (03:41): That is interesting, more tangible,
Leslie Josel (03:43): More tangible, I think, less distracting. I think it is, it is actually, that's what we hear from our college students that they find paper less distracting and it gives them a place to see their, their life in a whole, as opposed to trying to find it in different places digitally. So you can talk about it. That's another podcast.
Penny Williams (04:04): Another show. We'll do that
Leslie Josel (04:06): Another day. Yes.
Penny Williams (04:08): Let's jump into procrastination. Do you want to start by letting everyone know kind of how you define procrastination
Leslie Josel (04:17): Or so let me just also wrap it back a second so that you also understand where I am coming from. So I wrote a book about a year and a half ago called how to do it now because it's not going away an expert guide to getting stuff done. And it came out this past October and it is geared specifically to teens and college students. The book was written to them for them. And the book is really a compilation or I would say like of all of the work that I've done over the last 15 years, we literally went back and interviewed as many kids as we could find that had worked with us. And we asked them a lot of questions, some serious and probing and sunlight and funny. But over the course of the years, I, Oh, procrastination has been the number one.
Leslie Josel (05:02): How do I say it? You know, complaints from parents who come to us and go, my kid procrastinates, my kid procrastinate always seems to be the thing that bubbles to the top. So coming up with like a definition, I know that sounds funny to work through for both parents and students for me was crucial. And I always feel that the deficit. And so again, I want to make it clear. This is my definition because there's many out there that for me, for someone to truly, truly quote unquote procrastinate, it's not just about putting something off. And that's where we tend to stop the definition, particularly parents and I am not disparaging parents. I am one, trust me. I have to check myself at the door all the time, but there has to be a true consequence on the other side. And I think that that is sometimes where we stop with that definition that we think not only just the parents, but even for ourselves, that if we putting something off or we're saying later, is that really procrastination?
Leslie Josel (06:06): I don't really feel it is to the degree that we do. I feel that there needs to be a consequence on the other end and for whatever reason. And there are multitudes of them, consequences, reign big for your student. So the kids that we poach, obviously we do multiple check-ins during the week. We'll text them. And we expect obviously for them to text us back now, some don't. But the interesting part of that is when we asked, like, what is it or what got in your way or to do, why didn't you, the response is usually, not texting you back right away. There's no consequences if I don't, but if my teacher, professor a boss does, I will right away because the consequences greater. So for whatever reason, your kid does understand consequences. So we, that's why I really liked putting that consequence piece on the back end of the definition.
Leslie Josel (07:00): I think it helps us realize that we all learn differently. We all do things differently. We all show up differently and not necessarily just putting something off does not make you a procrastinator. So that's kinda how I, I set it up so to speak. And I think it'll also helps kids not feel so bad about themselves because just because you procrastinate doesn't mean you're a procrastinator and not all procrastination looks the same either. So I think that helps students understand what's going on, feel better about themselves because that's another whole podcast too. But I think you understand where I'm going with that.
Penny Williams (07:40): Yeah. And that piece about helping them feel better about themselves is so important. You know, we, we tend to assign different challenges as character flaws and then our kids are feeling bad about themselves. We're feeling bad about them, right? We're feeling negative towards that.
Leslie Josel (08:02): And it just kind of, I call it the parade of horribles cause just keeps going. It just keeps going and going. And interestingly, when we talked to these students who felt, they were being told, they were procrastinating on X, Y, and Z, you ask a lot of them, well, what do you get up for? And they're like, well, I get up every morning on my own. And I exercise because I'm health conscious or I have a job and I am never late for my job. So that one size fits all definition of procrastination doesn't fit. So there, here are things that you're, that a student is doing really well. They're on time, they're showing up, they're getting it done. Like even kids who are heads of clubs in college or in high school are saying, I'm getting all the work done. I'm doing what I need to do. So that's why I feel like we need to dig deeper and say, okay, procrastination is a mask. It's never the true reason. There's always something going on underneath that we truly need to figure out. And that's really in my, literally when I say in my book, I think, you know what I mean is the key to figuring this out. It's truly what is getting in the way, procrastination doesn't live alone. At least I don't feel it though.
Penny Williams (09:14): Yeah, absolutely. Behaviors, communication and procrastination as a behavior. So what, what is triggering that? What is behind that? And sometimes, especially for ADHD brains, it's just disinterest, my son procrastinates on doing his chores while that's, because he's not interested in doing that. He doesn't want to spend his time putting the dishes away. Right. And he, of course, he's going to say later to that and knowing that is part of the battle, seeing that piece behind is everything, to help them to improve that challenge.
Leslie Josel (09:51): I'm so happy you brought that up because that actually, so again, to give a little context behind it, when I said we did go back and we interviewed a lot of, a lot of students, so a lot of, I would say a lot of their voice is in this book. The why, like, not only the why, but also what did I do differently? And there were definitely themes that came up and one of them was disinterested. And when we talk about disinterests, what we found was how do you make something that you're completely disinterested in? Interesting. And the response was knowing the why. And this is so fascinating to me because, and I just, I just wrote a column about a parent and again, not dispatching parents. I am one who said, you know what? Every time I asked my child to do something, they asked me why I find that disrespectful.
Leslie Josel (10:42): This is not me speaking. This is the question I wrote back. I don't agree with it. I respectfully don't agree. I love the Y your child, particularly if they have that ADHD brain or they're not neuro-typical they need, there needs to be an interest. There needs to be a connection there needs, they're, they're curious by nature. So we need to, particularly if it's something that is so disinteresting to them, like taking out the garbage or emptying the dishwasher that Y helps them connect emotion to it, to then help them activate. So if it's, can you go into the dishwasher? You probably going to get up sure. Later, but Hey, can you empty the dishwasher for me? Because I'm running out the door and could use your help. Now I have a kid who might have more buy-in because that there's that human connection of, Oh, I'm going to do something to help support my mom because I'm not a bad kid.
Leslie Josel (11:32): I don't know I get it. Or can you take out the garbage because the sanitation guy is going to bore women, sorry, is going to be here in 10 minutes. So, okay. Now there's a reasoning why it needs to be done now, but that came up as a big theme to centrist. And that was the rationale. What kids came back with is knowing the why behind it helped, helped me activate that helps me get over that. Isn't that interesting getting over that disinterest. So I thought that that was just to me, that was a brilliant way of you know, distilling that down of going, help me to understand why I'm not being, I'm not being disrespectful. I'm trying to make connection to activate my brain,
Penny Williams (12:15): Right? It's their neurology as their neurology, they need interest or urgency in order for their brain to engage. It's just their biology. And I love that. You're talking about the why for many reasons, but you know, that is really the mindset that we need to have as parents of neuro-diverse kids. But also we need to help our kids discover their why's behind the NGS too. If they're not connecting to something, it's going to be really hard for them to engage and get it done. But there's so many aspects in life where it's really important for them to figure out their own why to it. And I think a lot of neuro-diverse kids struggle with that. They struggle with making those connections and it's our job to really help them do that.
Leslie Josel (13:09): Okay. You have read the book because the second theme that came out of a lot of it and this one, not every I'm, I'm a truth teller. I am who I am. And a lot of parents like, well, this one, I got a lot of pushback on was choice and control. That was a massive, massive, massive thing. Because again and again, we could sit here and that's that in and of itself is a whole podcast topic. But that, particularly for those who are neurodiverse, they're being asked constantly to be doing things they might not be able to. We can also, along with choice and control also was the theme of skill that I don't know how, and all the nagging nudging I could use. All those words go, why aren't you is not going to move the needle any further than it is that skill.
Leslie Josel (14:03): That a lot of what the procrastination is based on is the skill or lack of skill bottom line. If your kid doesn't know how to study, he ain't going to do it. If your kid doesn't know how to plan, he's not going to do it. So that was missing for a lot of students that I just don't know how, and you need to understand that. So the question isn't go do it, the questions. Do you understand what I'm asking you to do? That was a question that doesn't get asked and needs to get asked. And along with that was choice and control of my, my days, not my own, the way I'm being asked to do things is not my own. What I'm being asked to do is not my own. I understand because remember, these are not little kids. These are teens and college students.
Leslie Josel (14:46): So they're like, I understand there are things that I have to do in this world that I don't, that are in my control. We all know that, but so allow me to have control over what I can allow me to be able to say, as something as simple as writing a paper two weeks ahead of time does not work for me. It might work for you, mom and dad, but not for John. I would rather do it the day before. Sit down, get it done and hands it in no stress. And I do well now that is a simple version of that. Then not always happens. This that's where that consequence piece comes in. Meaning just because you're tall, just putting something off does not make him a procrastinator. So as much choice and control, that's what they're looking for. Please allow me to loosen the parameters of how I get things done. And that was a massive theme that was like, I could've written a whole book just on that.
Penny Williams (15:42): And it's really honoring who they are. It's understanding who our kid is, what their biology is, what their strengths and weaknesses are and honoring all of that and allowing them to get it done in the way that works for them.
Leslie Josel (15:58): My favorite I, it's an interesting story. It's a very quick story. It's rare that we coach a parent at a student at the same time. This was about two years ago, but it was like a Friday. I'll never forget this. And it was a long weekend and the student had something. Do you know how things are due? Like 11:59 PM on Monday night? So it was it was a young man who was 16, a young boy or an adult, whatever. I don't know how you want to say that kind of happened to be the mom. And I'm not disparaging moms because I hear it from dads too, or caregivers or whomever. And just this situation was a mom. And the mom was saying, I don't get it. It's Friday afternoon. He's home. He's not doing anything. He's procrastinating. He has this thing. He had this project.
Leslie Josel (16:40): He has to get it done. It's due on Monday night. Like, why isn't he doing it? And very quietly, the young boy turned to his mom and said, you can yell at me at midnight on Tuesday and not a minute before. And sure enough, he got up on Sunday morning because I checked in. He said, I got for me just sitting down in one day and doing it works better for me having the deadline right in front. I got up on Sunday on my own. I, I finished it handed in. Now my point again is that doesn't always happen. There are definitely kids that don't. And again, that is procrastination. That consequence piece him doing it on Sunday, there was no consequence, right? He figured it out. I call that phone. We get out for some parents. I call it a functional procrastinator, even though I don't even like the word procrastination there, they start to understand that I have to let my child make decisions and do things in the way that works best for them, especially right now, particularly now where a lot of our choice and control is not there anymore. So I know that was a very simplified version, but I just thought that whole aha moment of the student turning to his parent and saying, you don't get to yell at me until I screw up. Then you get to yell at me.
Penny Williams (18:01): It was a great illustration. Yeah. A great illustration of that. And I think so often we're putting our own stuff on our kids. So like I'm a doer. I just want to get things over with and get them done. My kid is not a doer in that way. His brain needs the urgency and not everything that is important to me is important to my kid. And it's taken a lot of work on my part to kind of honor that, to be able to step back and still I catch myself all the time, like, Oh, I just wish he would just get this done. Like why, why does he have to stress me like this while I'm stressing me? He's not stressing me. And we have to tease apart, what is my stuff? What is my child stuff? And of course we want to help them function efficiently and productively. But again, that can look different for different people. It does look different for different people. And you know, sometimes our kids are very much like us. Sometimes our kids are the polar opposite of us, and we just have to honor that,
Leslie Josel (19:13): You know, it's a, it's a fascinating conversation and it comes down. So I want to be very transparent that my company, obviously, this makes academic planners and what people find fascinating is I don't feel that every kid should even use one. So again, this whole procrastination piece, we get a lot of parents who come to us and say, I want my kid to write in a planner. I want my kid to write an a player. My kid needs to write in a planner and I have to take a step back and say, let's hang on. Let's, let's take a deep breath. Because what I feel is missing here is what you feel this planner represents for you. The planner is the goal, right? I never looked at that as the goal, the planner in my book is the system. The goal is maybe I want my child to be able to see everything they have to do, or I want my child to be able to see their time and their tasks and marry the two, or I want them to be able to have a holistic view of like everything going on in the world, whatever it is we could, I could give you 20 of those.
Leslie Josel (20:12): That's ultimately the goal, the planners, just one system. And all of a sudden I get, Oh wow. So perhaps that system is not the right system. And moreover, that system is a two-step system. You want your child to write and you want your child to write in a planner. So let's get the, so literally there's a case study in the book. And I, and I'm not bringing it up because I want to sell the book. I want to bring it up because it's probably the case study that has resonated the most. Like it's the one I've gotten the most like, Oh my, I read that. And I was like, that's crazy. And the key study is again, I had a 15 year old boy. That was some story. Mom wanted my one and my monetarily. We kind of revamped the whole mindset. And I looked at the student, I'm like, you're not writing in a planner.
Leslie Josel (21:03): He goes, no, and you're never going to make me. I'm like, all right, I'm cool choice and control. And I was noticing because we were virtual and I noticed he was doodling on paper towels. He was sitting in the kitchen and he was doodling. And I said, you like to do it on Vegas. I love that. That's great. How about writing your assignments everyday on paper towels, I've been taking a roll of paper towels to school, my name on paper towels. And he goes, are you kidding? You know, you had a little, he was sassy, but you've got to New York girl on the other end who can give the SAS right back. I'm like, I don't really give it. You know what I mean? Right now, right now, all I want to do is get you to see what you need to do instead of getting it out of your head.
Leslie Josel (21:42): And he's like, okay. He goes, I'm going to do that. I'm like, great. Let's see how it work out. Do you know, we spend an entire year writing on paper towels and it worked for him. He would rip the paper towel. He would look at it. He would write on it, what I have to do first, but I have to do second. I don't know why that spoke to him. I think he was just one of those kids, but eventually we did get to move him to a planner. But again, there it is. There's so many things in that story of that was a system that perhaps his parents, his mom or dad wanted to work that didn't, we had to start at a, and I'm going to tell you why I feel that's important. There was choice and control there. And we were building a skill.
Leslie Josel (22:23): So all of those pieces had to happen before I could, we could move him into possibly a system that would obviously benefited him maybe a little bit better than, than the paper towels. So I don't know. I hope that story, that story for whatever reason resonates the most, because I believe it checks off all the boxes. And I, we talk a lot about the book. It being like, all of this would talk about is brain-based behavior. We know that. And a lot of your kids show up at the door only being able to lift what I call a two pound weight. That's as much as their brain at that point can handle. So if you're giving them tasks, if you're giving them instructions, if you're giving them whatever that are too difficult for them, you're going to see massive procrastination. It's what the procrastination is, masking the lack of scale. And it's the equivalent of, I can only lift a two pound weight, but you're now handing me a 20 pound weight and I just can't lift it. So I'm just going to check it out the door and I'm just going to go do something else. That's where I feel. What we really need to be doing is trying to strengthen that brain by always asking. Cause this was a big theme. Do you understand? Do you know how, because a lot of our kids just don't
Penny Williams (23:42): Yeah. Getting started or being able sequence or plan a task can be really difficult for our kids. I, I hear in that story to a tale that I have also struggled and learn the hard way when you push your child to do something that you want them to do, they are going to be less apt to ever do it. Right? So like my daughter was the same way. All through high school, I kept saying, use a planner, use a plan. I'd buy her all these different planners, fancy stuff. I'd let her pick it. You know,
Penny Williams (24:24): Never, never did she use one. The day we left her at college, she got an app. She put everything in it. She became the planning queen. And I asked her why. And she said, because you wouldn't let it go. You wouldn't leave me alone about it. You pushed and pushed. So I didn't want to do it. And when it came down to her being on her own and having to keep up with things on her own, she knew that she needed a tool and a system for that. And she got one and she used it and she still uses that four years later.
Leslie Josel (25:06): That's amazing. Yeah. That's a great story.
Penny Williams (25:09): The more I pushed, the more, she was like, Nope, not going to do it, but she would still let me buy her all those planners. It was like,
Leslie Josel (25:17): No, I do. And we use them here for tool for time. Like people ask us all the time. And again, I'm not here to talk about planners per se, but we get asked a lot, like, how do you, how do you get buy in? And I said, cause I think a lot of us ask our kids, what do you have to do today? And to me, that's just reciting a, to do list. That's a two pound weight. I go back to the question of how are you going to see what you have to do? How do you know when you have the time to do it? Can you see that? What else is going to get in your way? How are you going to see that? All of a sudden, a planner in any form becomes a little more of an obvious choice. Notice I didn't, I didn't nudge, I didn't nag, but I asked a lot of questions to the point where even my own kids are granted, my kids are grown and flown now, but when they were younger, they'd go, okay, can you just tell us what to do, stop asking questions.
Leslie Josel (26:07): But I feel like that in and of itself allows your child to not only help strengthen their brain, but instinctively again, go back to this whole choice and control. I spent an enormous amount of time teaching kids how to study. I do because, and again, not disparaging teachers, but a lot of that is just missing for some kids. Not necessarily that they weren't taught, but they weren't taught in a way that works for them. Right. And the one great thing about studying is that is really where your child has any normal amount of choice and control. And that's how I present it. And a lot of them are like, I never would've thought of it that way. I'm like, let's, let's particularly for our kids that are neurodiverse. You know, homework gets presented to them in one way. And it's very difficult to figure out a different way.
Leslie Josel (26:56): You have to go to page 52 in your math book and do problems one through five. There's not much choice and control there. However, you have, a Mesopotamia test to study for other than possibly a study guide that you know, that your teacher might ask you to, do you have complete control and choice on how you go into learn that information. Some kids write a song, some kids do a dance. Some kids make up fun like Q and a, some kids, work with friends. Some kids, are writing on giant sticky notes and whiteboards all over their room. And for some kids, I know this is going to sound crazy. And I think a lot of your listeners are going to be like, is she really for real? But you remember, this is the world I live in. I sometimes get more buy-in for study than I do for homework because they get choice to say, you know what, I'm going to, I need to listen to a podcast or a YouTube video to help me dissect this.
Leslie Josel (27:51): Or I'm going to go meet with three friends and I'm going to pick their brains. Cause he's the comp side, genius in the group. Or it helps me to lighten the load to be with, with others. But with homework again, not so much. So I know that's probably an aha moment for a lot of your, for your listeners. But when I presented, as you make the choice and control, you can figure out how, when, why and why? I think a lot of listeners are always like, Leslie, buy in, give me a tap. How do I do it? You know, that's believe it or not. That's how I get in. I turn to them and go, how, how do you want to do it? What works for you? If you're a musical theater kid, let's make a song like to learn the Latin alphabet, you know? And they're like, I can do that. I'm like, you can do whatever you want. This is your space. And I see that really working particularly for my, my neuro-diverse kids who were like, I can't do it in the way that was presented to me. I need to figure out what works. I need to do it when I want, how I want and in my own style.
Penny Williams (28:54): Yeah. That control piece is so, so powerful. And I don't think parents recognize how powerful it is. You know, we think, okay, if I give my child control, then they're just going to choose not to do things. And really the opposite is true. Like that, that feels like common sense. But actually the opposite is completely true that the more control we give them, the more ownership they have, the more of a personal connection they can make to the task. And the more likely that they will get on board with what needs to be done because they get to choose. They are in control of themselves and kids who are neuro atypical spend so much of their day, not in control, wanting to meet expectations that they cannot meet struggling and squall struggling socially. They need us to give them a sense of control more than most kids do. And again, you, you talk about choice. You can give control while still setting boundaries. You know, it's not to say that you're giving your kid free reign. You know, you can give them options that gives them a sense of control, but it also helps you to maintain your boundaries. So, it's just a super powerful tool in so many ways. And I see how it works with procrastination too.
Leslie Josel (30:24): It does be, I, we have a mantra here at order out of chaos, we say to parents, it is your job. As the parent to set the parameters, it's your child. Stop to negotiate them. That that is my party. That is my party line. If you've ever heard me speak, that is it. And obviously those parameters are smaller when your child is younger. Obviously not going to have the same for the eight year old as you might've 17, but it's exactly what you just said. You set the parameter, your child has, that should have the ability to negotiate it. So as something as simple as, and I'm going to tell you one of my little things. So it's simple. As you know, if you have an eight year olds at home, you can say, okay, when do you want to, do you want to start your homework at four Oh seven or four 27?
Leslie Josel (31:07): I love things on the odd numbers because I think they're engaging for a brain that bores easily. So four o'clock and 4:30 are boring. 4:07 and 4:17 are not. So that's just a little Leslie ism that I do a lot. I know it's funny, but parents like, wow, you do that. Like, why not? Whoever wrote the rule, everything else start started on the even right? Whoever wrote that rule, there's no rule. You can look at your eight year old and saying, Hey, do you want to start at four Oh seven or four 17? Here it is. You've set parameters. They're negotiating it. And as your child obviously gets older, there's more to do. And I completely, there's, there's way more parameters to negotiate, but I completely agree with you that I have found where most students, because remember, I work day in and day out with this, this population who says, when my parents finally take a step back, it gives me the room to step up. It's like, hands down, hands down what I hear and, and that anticipatory, you're going to screw it up. You're not doing it. The kid hears you. What he's hearing is I'm lazy, I'm stupid, I'm weak. And that is incredibly damaging. And that also, I don't really talk about that. That's the theme came out a lot in, in the book, in the interviews that we did have that whole piece of when there's that anticipatory, you're not going to, and not allowing me to show what I can do. That's what they equate it to me.
Penny Williams (32:36): Yeah. And that you don't believe in that or you don't, you don't think they can do it, right? Yeah. W we send so many messages to our kids that we don't intend to go, and we just don't realize, and it takes a lot of mindfulness to be able to kind of back off of some of that stuff and say, okay, how is my child going to receive what I'm saying and what I'm commanding sometimes. And I think too, the other thing is that we have to think about the overarching goals. I talked to parents all the time about this, like homework battles. What's the goal of the homework. The goal of the homework is to practice and show that you've learned the concept. Can it be done in a different way than a worksheet of 40 math problems? Sure. It can. It absolutely can. You know? And so the same thing applies here with giving our kids control of how and when they are going to take care of things, keep that goal in mind. The goal isn't that your child uses a paper planner. The goal is that your child is able to manage their time and succeed at what they need to do.
Leslie Josel (33:51): We have a tool I'm hoping I can share this it's free. So we have a tool on our site. That's called a personal homework profile. And I developed this about five years ago because this whole conversation of, how and when and why, and choice and control on, and it's for all students. It's not just for those that are neurodiverse it's for all able learners, but it became a, are you allowing, this is to parents, your child, to do the work they need to do in a way that works for them, not putting it off and not. But, and so everyone was like, well, I don't really understand. I'm like, so we develop this. It's a sheet it's free. You can download it. It's 15 questions. And it goes through everything from energy level. Like, are you the kid that has attention residue and wants to get work done right?
Leslie Josel (34:41): When they come home again, we're talking maybe about a pre COVID work, but not really. It could also be when they get off that last zoom call, where do they need time to refill and re-energize and do it later, do they need quiet? Do they need noise? Do they need food? Do they not? Do they need music? Do they not? Do they need to switch subjects? Cause that helps to engage their brain constantly. Or they are one, one at a timer. Do they need long lead times? There it is. Or do they need that? You know, immediacy in front of them, it's it answers the where the, how the why. And it allows your child to tap into their best practices. And it gives them choice and control over what they should have choice and control. We use that all the time in our work, even with our college students and we even do it again, we do one, even, even if you've liked done one the first semester and they come back for second semester, we do it again.
Leslie Josel (35:34): Cause things change. It's a great procrastination too, because what it does is it lightens the load for the students to try to figure something out. They go back to it and say, okay, I know this works for me. I like doing my math in the bath, right? No water, but I love doing math. I have a lot of kids doing homework in the bathtub because it's fun. It's sensory seeking. It's cold. They put a pillow behind them and rock on. Do I need to be moving around my house? Cause that helps me energize and engage my brain. All of these, particularly during the pantry. I mean, we, we did this prior to the pandemic, but it became even more vital during the pandemic because our kids who are home, particularly lost structure and systems and transitions and all of those things. So any way that we could tap into their best practices and allow them that really, we saw a massive difference when they were able to say, I would like to do my math in the bathtub, but I want to do my English with my earphones on, under the kitchen table.
Leslie Josel (36:35): Who cares
Penny Williams (36:36): Exactly. Who cares? Like there's no rule that says you have to do school at a desk. There's no rule
Leslie Josel (36:42): With the door closed in the quiet, which is how I grew up
Penny Williams (36:46): With no music. No, no distraction whatsoever. Yeah. I, my son's first grade teacher or years ago he was hyperactive. He was very messy, kind of like pig pen. There was always like this big mess around him, wherever he went on the floor. Right. And so she, she put tape on the floor, around his desk in his chair, gave him extra room, like pulled him, back a little bit where he had lots of extra room. And as long as he was within his tape and his stuff was in his tape, he was considered on task, doing what he should be doing. He would be under his chair in his desk, on the floor doing his worksheet. And that's how he got it done. If you asked him to sit in that chair at that desk and do it, it would not happen. But she was able to say, okay, this kid needs to do it differently.
Penny Williams (37:41): I mean, there were years and years where he would literally stand on his head on the sofa to read. It was the only way he could focus enough to read a page in a book, even as a young kid. So like, what was it hurting? It didn't matter. You know, I learned very quickly that he needs to do it in his own way and that's fine. And I hear parents all the time say, well, if the other kids have to do 40 math problems, my kid should have to do it to you. That's not fair. Or, the teacher is not going to be flexible. You have to ask, you have to ask for what your kid needs and fairness is not equal. It's what each person needs to achieve. The goal.
Leslie Josel (38:24): Exactly. We say that all the time, you can't count M and M. So we been talking a lot about this in our groups about, particularly now with kids home. And a lot of what been saying is when it comes to homework, go back to your child's teacher and ask, how long should this typical assignment be? How long should he really be spending time on it? So if it's 30 minutes or 40 minutes, again, depending on the age, that's the time limit. You know, I've had a lot of parents say, should I be asking for time and a half on homework and give them no, not, not after what their, their days are alike. I would rather you go back to the teacher and say, how long should this take? If it should take 30 minutes and that's the amount of time your child's going to spend on it and then they're done.
Leslie Josel (39:08): And that's what they're going to hand in. That's enough for them. And that's what the teacher needs to say that I think is way more powerful than, okay. Like after a full day of zoom or a full day in, in school, if your kid is back, in a brick and mortar building, they don't need more time and a half to do homework. They need right. They need bike. So that's been a, Oh, that's an interesting concept, never thought of that. And I'm like, and then I'm all about, can you even ask for homework possibly to be graded? And I've seen this. And again, I've seen a lot of teachers, particularly in the past year being way more receptive to this. Can we have partial grading on effort as opposed to completion? And we're also seeing a lot of teachers say, like, I don't, I'm not grading solely on the test grade.
Leslie Josel (39:52): I also want to see the preparation for it. So if your child, created a fabulous song to learn his Latin or created a cute fun, I've had a kid who did this, this is true. This is about two years ago. He created a website to learn instead of like studying study guides to learn Mesopotamia. He created a website because that's how he could, how cool is that? And he handed that in and the teacher said, you don't worry about this. Then the kids who are going to take the test. So there's no silver lining to this year, but that would be the small silver lining that we're seeing is that, as you said, how can we show information differently? How can we do things differently that still have the end result? Because again, we need to be crystal clear. What is the goal?
Leslie Josel (40:37): Your child takes the test or is the goal that your child shows that he has an understanding of the information taking a test is just another system. And that's a lot of what we're talking about now. And I think the pandemic of, again, I'm going, not all of you are gonna agree with me, but sometimes they say things and not everybody agrees with and that's fine. But I feel like that is the one thing that I have seen a lot of change in is that we've blown up the system to some degree and said, okay, my, my child's home, I have the front row seat. I have the bird's eye view. Here's, what's working. Here's, what's not, can we make these changes? And will those changes, last after things go back to a little more of a typical routine and I'm hoping they don't, I'm really hoping that that's what comes out of this.
Penny Williams (41:27): And I think you're talking about flexibility and you know, when we, as parents or show kids flexibility, then we're giving them that choice and control or helping them to get things done maybe in their own time and in their own way. But the goal is to get it done. And so I think it totally speaks to what we're talking about,
Leslie Josel (41:49): But it's so interesting because we are having these conversations about how this past year has taught us as adults who are working flexibility, choice and control. I might not be able to show up all day between nine and five. If you've been working from home or you're an essential worker, you have kids at home, but you know what? I get up at four and I'm not saying me, I'm a Lakeville. I'm not an early girl. You can always call me at midnight. Definitely not, but I have people, look, I run a virtual team and some of them get up at four in the morning and work till eight o'clock and then take time off and come back again. Later. Some of us are me, you'll find me late at night, but we're giving that flexibility to adults who are, who are working. I feel it needs to trickle down to our students to 100%.
Leslie Josel (42:34): That's my soap box for the day. So if you will, yeah, because I think you will see a lot of, less of I'm going to do it later or, you know? Yeah, yeah, yeah. I got it. I got it. I got it. Because I think I know we're talking a lot. I think if we can marry choice and control with building actual skill and be, look, there's a million other reasons why kids procrastinate that came out of this decision fatigue was another one, which was so fascinating to me. Right? Difficult sustaining effort was a big one, and then all the emotion that perfectionism and all of those things. It, but which is another one. But that lack of skill came up again and again, which I don't think we're talking about. I don't think we are, we are really digging in and saying, does my child really know how to study? Does my child know how to get certain things done? It doesn't even have to be school. It can be even life skills. Do they know how to do that? So that was something that I felt was super important to bring up. And then we're doing a lot to work towards. It is how do we build skills? So your child can activate. And, I can add not only activate, but also stay the course.
Penny Williams (43:47): Yeah. And does my child know how to get some things started when they're overwhelmed? Does my child know how to calm themselves? You know, there's so many other pieces
Leslie Josel (43:59): And we say a lot too to parents and again, non bad way, but telling is not teaching that we right. So, we have a saying here, like, we're very good as parents. And again, I am one, I checked myself. So I'm on your page here. There's a lot of the, Oh, by the ways. And don't forget that. Go on, like your kids walking out of the room, you're walking out of the room and you're screaming by them, not screaming in a bad way. You're going home by the way. And don't forget if you think your kid really heard that. And then what might show up in your eyes is procrastination. I did tell him like, Oh, the way don't forget to take out the garbage and he didn't do it. He procrastinated. Or he didn't. I'm like, no, he didn't either hear you. We didn't lay it down. We didn't say, how are you going to remember that? Like, that's another whole podcast, but there's a lot of ways to shore this up that I think benefit both child and parent.
Penny Williams (44:50): Absolutely. Yeah. Such a great conversation. So many amazing insights. I think always the first step to doing better for our kids, as parents and helping our kids with what they struggle with is to first understand, understand what is happening for them. That's the only way that we can really then honor who they are and, and move forward in a way that works for them. That gives them choice and control that, sees that they just do things differently. Or they do things at the last minute. And as long as they're done that's okay. So, so, so much good stuff there. For everybody listening, I will have links to Leslie's website, the planner, other things that we've mentioned as well in this episode, we'll all be in the show notes. You can grab those show notes at parentingadhdandautism.com/121 for episode 121. And without, I just want to thank you again, Leslie, for coming back on, giving us even more of your time.
Leslie Josel (45:58): Oh my pleasure. I, you are a masterclass in podcast interviewing, so I am so happy and thankful to be here. Appreciate it.
Penny Williams (46:07): Thank you with that. I will end the episode. I'll see everybody next time. Thanks for joining me on the parenting ADHD podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share, and don't forget to check out my online courses, parent coaching and mama retreats at parentingadhdandautism.com.
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