Although nagging can eventually be effective, it’s just not pleasant for anyone involved.
Nagging is exhausting to do, (Isn’t that the truth?) and that it’s the drudgework of parenting. Yet with impending adolescence, it becomes more necessary to do because as our kids get older and begin to exert their independence, now there is more
active resistance (argument) and more passive resistance (delay) by the child who begins pushing for having more freedom on his/her own terms.
One way to get closer to your kids is to quit the nagging and replace it with a different approach. Persistent gentle reminders will get things done—better, faster, and with less stress. Think kindness rather than anger and patience rather than barking out orders.
Easier said than done, right? Not necessarily.
A few years ago, unbeknownst to me, one of my kids videotaped me when I was having a fit about the dishes not being done. When she shared the video with me, and the rest of the family, I was mortified. Although I had every right to expect the dishes to be done after asking about it at least six times, my nagging approach made me sound like a pathetic lunatic. What's worse, it was clear that everyone was tuning me out.
That moment left a lasting impression on me; so much so that I made a pact with myself to nix the nagging once and for all. Now I ask once for a job to be done and if it's not done in a timely manner, I simply go to the child responsible for the task and quietly, matter-of-factly remind them of their responsibility. Failure to comply results in the addition of an extra chore besides the one that wasn't accomplished. In our house, silence is now golden!
Kids will nag their parents about the same thing countless times in order to get their way. Parents finally cave because they just don’t want to hear it anymore. How many times can you listen to your tween moan that all her friends are allowed to hang out for an hour after the movie gets out?
Nagging, however, goes both ways—we as parents can be pretty fluent in nagging when we’re trying to get our kids to do their chores, finish their homework, or get to bed at a reasonable hour.
If you want to put a fresh spring in your parenting step suggest that your family go on a no-nagging diet. Become aware of your tone of voice, how you ask one another for things, and how you react to your children’s endless requests. Nagging can ultimately become a bad habit, so turn down the negative dial and increase the positive channels instead.
Too often we as parents focus on what our kids aren’t doing right rather than what is going well, and that’s understandable at times when we’re all busy with our hectic day-to-day lives and are trying to keep everything in our home, school, and work lives running smoothly.
When we do get caught up in juggling dozens of responsibilities, however, we can become overwhelmed and lose our patience and ultimately become cranky. With my own eight kids, I have always had more success in getting them to help out with their chores and stay on task with their homework by heaping positive comments in the mix rather than berating them with sarcasm and crabbiness, including the type of body language I use.
For example, I recently came home from a 12-hour day at work to find my son and a couple of his friends goofing around in our family room while the kitchen was piled high with dirty dishes and an overflowing garbage can, which the dog was enjoying tremendously. It would’ve been easier to walk in, slam my pocket book down on the kitchen island and rigorously start loading the dishwasher myself to get his attention while prattling on about how tired I was from my long day at work and question how he could forget to take care of his own responsibilities and leave them for someone else. Instead, I greeted the boys in a pleasant tone (I didn’t go overboard with niceties) and reminded him it was time to get busy with homework etc. and he’d see his friends tomorrow at school. I left to get out of my work clothes and to give him a little space to see his friends off. About 20 minutes later, I returned on the scene much more relaxed and I reminded him it was his night for dishes. As I heated up some tea I told him it was great to see him having a good time with his friends and maybe they could’ve stayed longer if he had tended to his chores. Message was received and he got right to the dishes and even unloaded the dishwasher later that night so his sister wouldn’t have to do it in the morning.
That important slogan, don’t text and drive, is one we remind our kids (and ourselves) over and over again because of how dangerous it can be. Texting has become one of the most popular and convenient ways for parents to keep in touch with their kids, but it can also become a negative tool as well. Nagging in person is certainly draining, however, it can also be just as wearing if we do it via electronics and smart phones, so I try to keep that in mind when I’m communicating with my thumbs as well.
Nagging is unpleasant enough when you’re in close range to your victim (I mean child or spouse!), but when you’re barking demands from across the house, it sounds even harsher. One of the best parenting strategies I learned from my own mother was not to communicate from one room to another but to physically go to the location of the person you wish to speak with and do it face to face. If you’re in the kitchen and need to get your daughter’s attention who is in her bedroom upstairs and at the other side of the house, you’re going to have to exert a lot of energy and volume to get her attention. Think about those hot summer days when your windows are open and how far all the sounds coming from your house will soon travel. Not only will your own family be inundated with listening to your nag-fest, so will most of your neighborhood. It may take a bit more effort on your part, but when you get into the habit of communicating face-to-face, your requests will be taken more seriously and it will certainly eliminate some of that negative noise we can all live more without.