Does your child make excuses?

Do they procrastinate?
Do they come up with reasons why they didn't do what needed to be done?
We've all been there, right? Or is it just me? 🙂
You have this big project due Friday but you don't even start it. You feel crappy about it, not sure how to start and when someone asks you, you say “I didn't get around to it yet.”
In college, I had this huge math final. A pile of notes was sitting on my desk for 3 weeks. I postponed studying until 2 days before the test!
Have you experienced those types of situations?
I know you have!

Let's be crystal-clear: if your child makes excuses, it doesn't mean their lazy.
He or she is not necessarily trying to get out of doing the work.
It also doesn't mean they are making stuff up.
Also, you busting their excuses does not mean you turn into a militant, pushy parent.
As a matter of fact, empowering your child to get over their excuses is a very loving, caring, empathetic thing to do.

Do you want to be a loving, caring and empathetic parent and at the same time propel your child to break their limits and bad habits – such as the habit of making excuses?
You do?
Let's get started then, shall we?

What are excuses – how do you recognize them?

Excuses are beliefs, statements, reasons or common phrases that justify inaction.
Everything that justifies inaction is an excuse.
Remember that excuses might sometimes be 100% legitimate. The test your child took last week may, in fact, have been hard. The project you finished late after putting off the work for days may, in fact, have been mis-scheduled.
Can you think of an excuse your child have used within the last week?
What about “I didn't have time, I was too busy.” “This is too hard.” or “I can't focus right now.”?

Convert excuses into action and empower your child to unleash their full potential.

Outside forces will always be present. Excuses emphasize the outside forces your child has limited control over. In reality, excuses are simply a matter of perspective, your child chooses to focus on what they can't control.
Why? Because it's hard to admit that he or she just messed up! It hurts. It's a painful reality.
“I messed up. Not my teacher, not life, not other people – me. I messed up.”

Sounds like a depressing statement, doesn't it?
It is, in fact, incredibly empowering. How come?
“I messed up.” so “I have the power to make improvement.”
Taking the ownership will give your child the power to change things. Take control. Fix the mistakes. Do better next time.
The only requirement: they need to immediately acknowledge the mistakes, learn from them and take action to fix them and avoid them in the future.
Acknowledging that they messed up is the scariest part. Instead of dwelling on it, help your child immediately focus on the next action: fixing the mistakes.

Abolish excuses - regain control

All the reasons, people, events and inconveniences made your child do poorly on the test.
Not enough time. Lack of focus. Life got in the way. Other people messed up. The test was too hard.
It almost sounds like your child couldn't help but do poorly!
Words are powerful. If your child says it enough times, they will start believing that they have no control.

You need to abolish all excuses right now, if your child is to make any progress.

The new way of thinking: Full ownership. Full control. Translate excuses into action and take it.
Shift your child's focus from blame-game to action.
What could they have done better?
Your child can always improve, no matter the situation or circumstances.
[ctt_hbox link="spx23" via="no"]Every excuse points in the direction of the opportunity for improvement.[/ctt_hbox]
“I didn't have time” - can he or she schedule things differently to free up more time for important things?
“I was too tired” - what priorities did they mix up – did they play video games all night and then overslept for the test?
“I can't focus” – how could they get rid of distractions?
Would your child say the test was too hard if they aced it? No. The test was hard because they were not prepared. How can they prepare smarter and more effectively?

Let's have a little session here.

Let's take a common excuse and see what you could do to help your child overcome it:

“I didn't have time to study, I was too busy.”

Identify it as an excuse.

Does it justify inaction? Yes, your child didn't study and now they're finding the reason why.
Hence, it's an excuse. Even if they in fact, had no time.
Have a conversation with your child, dissecting the reasons why they “didn't have time.”
Remember: every excuse points in the direction of the opportunity for improvement.
Find the reasons why your child had no time to study. Figure out the priorities. Figure out how to free up time for the top priorities. Figure out how to limit time-wasters and low priority activities.

Help your child acknowledge it and own it.

Nothing happens to you. You make things happen. There are always ways to do better and improve. Help your child stop looking to others for reasons and look in the mirror instead. Help them look at what they did.

Help your child gain clarity.

Help your child figure things out, analyze the situation together. This is not about figuring out who's to blame. The goal is to figure out what to do differently from now on – tomorrow, next week or on the next test. Help your child be clear about their options, resources and direction.
What could they use to improve? Who could they ask for assistance? What habits should they start? What should they do less of?
Be laser-specific:
“Can you reserve some time over the weekend to go over the notes?
Can you ask 1 question in every class so that the small efforts accumulate overtime?
What mistakes have you made and how can you ensure you don't make them again?
What can you plan out to do better next time?
Did you sleep enough? Did you eat before the test? Did you drink water?”

Plan the action.

Set up a specific 3-step plan to execute this week, starting today.
Remember, your child doesn't have to change the teacher, buy new books or make radical changes to improve. Start with simple things. Something your child can do on their own.
What 3 specific step (each 15 minutes or less) can your child take today or tomorrow to get the ball rolling?
Help your child focus on what they can do to improve as oppose to what other people should do for them or what would have to happen to make all the circumstances align perfectly – which they never will.
Specific, clear steps – specific outcomes.

Establish expectations.

Make sure your child understands that this is not a 5-minute conversation after which you all go back to your normal lives. This is a process. They will need to take action. They will be responsible for taking action and evaluating the outcomes.
Change is difficult and it sometimes takes time. Help your child focus on taking consistent action – not on getting immediate results. Encourage them to keep going even if they don't see immediate results. Your child will need to establish new habits. Consistency is key.
Habits are incredibly powerful, one small habits can literally change their life.
“Drops of water wear away the stone.”
Help your child start small and build up the momentum.

Attention, please!

Have this kind of conversations with your child when they do poorly AND when they do well.
It will ensure that your child doesn't treat you as a bad cop who shows up only when they messed up.
You want these conversations to be a self-analysis party, not punishment.
Always help your child self-analyze what they did well and what they didn't do well.
This way, it's self-analysis and not self-blaming.
Help your child see “where they glow and where they might want to grow.”

Start Right Now

What is the main excuse your child often uses to justify their inaction?
How can you turn it into opportunity for improvement?

Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or on facebook or twitter.

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