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Reforming chronically late teens

If your teen is late to school, sport, their job, or simply struggles to adhere to a study schedule, first things first – they’re not the only one. But, with some good time management strategies to implement, this is something that can easily be addressed and nipped in the bud.  

Identify why your child is late as a starting point. Is it because they are…  

  • Not committed to/feeling apathetic about the activity they’re doing?  
  • Trying to avoid something they dislike doing?  
  • Unable to manage their time or organise themselves?  
  • Unwilling to manage their own schedule or expecting you to do it for them?  

Once you’ve identified the reason, take this into consideration as you prepare to sit down with your teen and talk about ways to work on their chronic tardiness. Be empathetic and use their reason for being late as a driver behind how and why you’re approaching them.  

With that in mind, here are a few ways to discuss and address their lateness. 

Setting expectations and consequences

Define your expectations with your child in a face-to-face conversation. Make sure they know that you’re not okay with them being late, but that you’re supportive and just want to help them improve. Outline subsequent consequences for their lateness, too – if they don’t meet these expectations, it’s important they’re fully aware of the flow-on effects their lateness has, whether that’s inherent to the task (e.g. less time spent practising = a dip in performance, late to school = dropping grades or detention) or something you’ve set for them in your household. 

Tick tock, set a clock

No, we’re not talking about everyone’s favourite social media app. We’re talking good, old-fashioned time management! Implement an alarm clock or use their phone to set alarms for various activities. Encourage them to take ownership of this and work out exactly how long they need to account for to get ready for a particular activity, including time spent travelling. Set alarms ahead of time to keep to a structured time management system.  

Routines and schedules

Work with your child to develop routines for important times throughout the day, such as their morning, afternoon (post-school) and evening. Set realistic study schedules that fit comfortably around their mandatory activities like school, extracurriculars, mealtimes and family times. Outline these on a calendar, be it physical or digital, so they can see all their commitments at a glance. Treating study, for example, like an extracurricular may encourage them to take it more seriously.  

Make them pay

If they’re still not getting it, and you’re setting your own household consequences, it’s time for them to pay up. You can implement a ‘charging’ structure that affects how much free time they have to play games, browse social media, watch TV and experience downtime on the whole. You could also institute additional chores as another consequence.  

These tips will help your child respect you and your home, but more importantly, it will teach them the skills they need to function in the working world as an adult. After all, when they’re out on their own at uni or in a first job, the only person responsible for their time management (and any subsequent lateness!) is themselves.  

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