For Parents

School is back and so are the school time routines and rituals, most of which are around household jobs, school work and time schedules. To quote MomUnfiltered, “Some days it feels a little bit more like hostage negotiating with a band of drunken bi-polar pirates than actual parenting”. Amen!

Besides being a pain in the backside, is there really anything wrong with nagging your child?

Yes. Firstly, nagging directly and indirectly communicates a lack of faith in our children’s capacity to get the job done. If you were asked ‘Do you want your child to feel capable and competent?’, you would naturally answer yes. Nagging defeats this objective.

Secondly, nagging doesn’t pass the responsibility to the child. You retain control of the required task if you don’t hand it over. How will they learn initiative if they’re only ever receiving instruction? Let go and let them realise the opportunity and power they have over their responsibilities. If you don’t plan on moving in with your child and his mates when he’s ready to find a flat, then we’d better start somewhere.

Thirdly, nagging cultivates rebellion and resentment. You call your dogs off and I’ll call mine! Kids really know how to dig their heels in, especially when we’re at our weakest. Nagging is often an antecedent to resentment which, without putting too finer point on it, can be a very destructive emotion. It may not be proportionate to the cause but it doesn’t need to be. In a resentful mind, an injustice has been carried out and that’s where the focus remains.

Finally, naggees become naggers. Model positive communication by more effective conversation and dialogue.

Easier said than done? Here are a few strategies to help our kids get (and stay) organised without all the hassle.

Make a choice. Before every action comes a decision. Try a different approach and commit to practising it daily. Use whatever reminders you need to bed it down and make it happen. Share your no-nagging diet with your family, that way you will have several accountability partners that will surely let you know when you’ve lost your way!

Keep quiet. Instead of substituting nagging with some other form of verbal communication, stay silent. Connect with your child by looking them in the eye and touching their shoulder, say it once then walk away. If their responsibility is not met, appropriate, consistent, and previously discussed consequences should ensue.

Encourage alternate solutions. Maybe your idea of what’s best is just not quite what your children really need. Try and avoid a win-lose situation. Have a positive, solution-focused conversation where they get to be the experts of their own lives and come up with reasonable solutions.

Maybe it’s not about getting the job done. Consider the possibility that the issue goes deeper than a reluctance to practice the piano. Come alongside them and actively listen to how they’re feeling. Take the time to explore what’s really going on for them. There’s gold in there, dig deep.

Pick your battles. Sometimes it’s just not possible to brush your teeth before you head off to school. Maybe that morning, it’s more important to stay close and cuddle them or let them finish that book they ‘can’t put down’. Keep some perspective.

With a fresh look, we can move from nagging negotiator to master motivator!! What’s stopping you?


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