Use the 5 Second Rule to Help Your Child Stop Procrastinating

We all know how hard it can be to get our kids to do their schoolwork, clean up their room, or finish that project they’ve been putting off. ⁠We want them to work on these tasks with enthusiasm and a sense of eagerness, but usually, they mope and complain that they don’t “feel” like doing it. ⁠

Hey kid, guess what? No one feels like doing something, except maybe sleep or eat. Everything else we just have to push ourselves to do it. ⁠Cue the 5 Second Rule, a technique by @MelRobbins that’s helped many people overcome the mental blocks they experience when trying to accomplish goals.⁠

So why not teach our kids the same skill set to add to their personal arsenal?⁠ I did just that a few weeks ago, and it’s transformed our home life. ⁠

So. Much. Less. Nagging!⁠

The 5 Second Rule is simple: if you have the instinct to act on a goal, move within five seconds or your brain will kill it. The moment you feel that hesitation before doing something that feels right but might not be the most natural thing for you- use the rule and count down from 5 (5-4-3-2-1-GO). Your instinct has been noted by your mind – so now it’s time to do what’s best to overcome any doubts.

The 5 Second Rule can be applied anywhere in life- at work or school and even your social life. It has been proven to help people tackle their fears and accomplish great things!


Child sitting down dressed as Scooby Doo wearing a sombrero.


What is the 5 Second Rule

The 5 Second Rule is a simple idea developed by Mel Robbins to help combat procrastination and get you moving. If you have the instinct to act on a goal, you move within five seconds or your brain will kill it.

The first part is your gut instinct, where you “know” that you should do something even if you don’t “feel” like doing it. Like calling a friend or finishing up a task you’ve been putting off.

Next, you must physically move and count down to activate the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for critical thinking skills that allow you to take control of your thoughts instead of locking into autopilot mode.

Finally, at the end of the countdown, you go and tackle the task because if you don’t your brain will talk you out of it as a way to protect yourself from something that may feel difficult or uncertain. It’s pretty simple, 5-4-3-2-1-Go!  

So how can you apply it to your homeschool?

If your children are anything like mine, they’re keen to play and run amok rather than get their schoolwork done. It can get frustrating trying to wrangle them into working on whatever subject they’re avoiding, but I’ve found that teaching my kids this simple trick of counting down to launch them into a new activity has transformed our homeschool.

My eldest son has become pretty self-sufficient when it comes to his daily work and chores, to the point where I just write his agenda on the chalkboard and he accomplishes it in his own time using the 5 Second Rule to get him moving.

With my younger kids, I have to guide them through the process. When I feel like we’re ready to transition to the next task, I ask them to stand up and slowly walk while counting down from 5. Once we hit 1, we yell “Go!” and quickly launch ourselves towards our next task.

Tips for implementing this rule into your homeschool

Implementing this rule into your homeschool is pretty easy. With older kids, you can simply explain the technique while physically showing them how to do it, and if you ever see them struggling with procrastination, you can gently remind them of the 5 Second Rule to get them on the right path.

For little kids, making it fun will help the technique to stick. You can get them excited by starting with fun and easy tasks like putting away toys right before screentime or pretending to be a rocket and counting down while launching off the couch onto some pillows.

I always tell my kids that they are in control of their own destiny, but sometimes procrastination is a natural reaction when we’re feeling overwhelmed. When you feel like you have too much to do, start by picking one thing and then trying the 5 Second Rule.

Final Thoughts

I love the idea of using the 5 Second Rule to help my kids stop procrastinating. It’s so tempting for them to put off doing their chores, or get distracted by something shiny and new on YouTube instead of focusing on what they need to do now.

The problem is that if we don’t teach our kids the tools to self-regulate, they will always have difficulty managing their time. But knowing how important this rule can be has made me want to try it out with my children and see if it works for us here in our homeschool, too.

If you need more tips on building positive habits, be sure to check out Encouraging Healthy Habits in Kids and 6 Easy Tips to Help You Teach Your Kids Grit.

And don’t forget to check out Mel Robbin’s latest book, The High Five Habit! I’m hoping to write an article about how you can incorporate this habit into your homeschool soon.

What about you? Have you tried Mel Robbins’ 5 Second Rule yet? If not, give it a go, and let’s talk more about it.

Xuan Klevecka is a Southern California-based homeschool mom, wife, and sometimes purveyor of vintage goods. She’s an Enneagram 5w4, a lover of good food, and a former middle school history teacher. You’ll either find her looking at road maps and daydreaming about her family’s next epic adventure or perusing recipes and cooking up a feast for the brood.



Hey, it's Xuan!

Homeschooling should be easy and joyful, not stressful and overwhelming. As a Homeschool Mentor and Slow Living Coach, I am here to support you and guide you through every step of your homeschooling journey.

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