5 Ways to Help Your Teen Develop Time Management Skills

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‘What you do today, determines your tomorrow’

Karen’s son’s excuse for not completing a task would always be ‘I didn’t have the time to finish it.’ When his mother was approached by the school, she sounded helpless, stating that, the same line was thrown around all the time at home. But a further inquiry into helping the child out only led the school to find out that his unmonitored, unscheduled activities, in other words, poor time management skill caused this hassle for him. He would have so many things that he wanted to complete, but couldn’t because of shifting thoughts, unfocused behaviour and lack of priorities.

Our children need help. They cannot act like the parents, but they will imitate you. Time management skills need to be, not only taught to the child but also practised at home. Here are a few techniques to be exercised with our children.

1. Goal setting:

‘‘I have too many things to finish, and I don’t know what to start with.’

A fundamental skill to learn to set priorities right is goal setting. Enable your child to set goals, both short term, and long term. Setting goals allow them to prioritise, make time for what is most important and complete tasks that are critical. As a parent, enabling your teenage child with certain responsibilities is important. Avoid setting the goal for your kid, instead, empower him to set his own goal. Goal setting can build a sense of responsibility concerning time, efficiency and productivity.

2. Be realistic:

‘ I planned to do a lot of things today, but I just couldn’t complete it.’

Allow your child to be realistic with the time he has. Reflect on what you do as a parent. Overburdening yourself could give a message out to your child to set unrealistic expectations. Completing tasks backed with unhealthy stress could lead your child to gain disinterest in completing tasks. It is okay to tell your child to take a break. They don’t have to be doing something constantly. Realistic and measurable goals are key to effective time management.

3. Seeking Help:

‘I didn’t complete this task because I didn’t know how to do it.’

Teach your child that it is okay and necessary to seek help. Spending time on a task that your child has no idea how to do, proves ineffective for them and uses up a lot of time which could’ve otherwise been handled better. Our children’s brain is set to grasp in new learnings. So when introduced to an unfamiliar task, show your child how it is to be done and assist them through it. You will see that your child learns quick.

Let this not be a space for your child to stop trying new things and keep coming to you for help instead. Strike a balance between what needs to be tried and what requires help.

4. Accountability:

‘My parents have no clue how I use my time, so I can do whatever I want to with it.’

Our children need our attention, support, and guidance. Teenage is a time of change physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially. Children would want space and time of their own which is only reasonable. But it is important to practise accountability. This aspect cannot suddenly be brought in when they are older but must be inculcated as a practice while growing up. This scheduled, monitored and structured time for children benefits them in being accountable to it.

5. Research:

‘Why should I manage my time? I can do what I want to, whenever I want to.’

Time management is not just another life skill enforced upon us by life. Research shows that effective time management reduces emotional stress, reduces academic stress, improves the ability to solve problems and improves academic performance {Misra & McKean (2000), George et al. (2010), Josephs & Hahn (1995)}.

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