Good Parenting: Does Nagging Help Kids Listen?

Many parents cringe at the sound of themselves nagging. I know, when I nag, I am surprised and I wonder when did this happen to me. What was the turning point?

Did it happen right when I brought my first child home from the hospital? Or was it when the piles of laundry got so high that I knew that I could not wade through it without help? Maybe it happened when I could not walk in my family room without stepping on a lego.

Whenever it was, I did not like it. I knew I did not want to be a nag. Kids and spouses alike do not respond well to being hen-pecked, to put it mildly. The fault finding and the criticism that comes along with nagging does not help a mother’s cause. It does not generate the cooperation that we want and need from our family members.

So, what do we need to do to quit nagging and gain cooperation from our kids? Here are 3 simple strategies to help you stop nagging and help your kids listen to you:

1. What not to say:

When parents nag we usually use one of the following statements:

a.”You always…”

“You always forget to put your backpack in the mudroom! When are you going to start being responsible for your stuff!”

b. “You never…”

“You never are nice to your sister. When are you going to start acting like a good big brother!”

c.”Why can’t you…”

“Why can’t you clean up your room? Why can’t you just clean up when I tell you!”

Talking to kids in this way, puts them on the defensive. They feel criticized. It does not encourage cooperation. The underlying message of these phrases is this, “You can never do anything right!” We want to avoid this type of language as much as possible.

2. Use “I” statements:

The best way to help your kids listen is to talk about what you need or how you feel. You can do this by using some simple “I” statements. You can say:

“I would like to see your backpack in the mudroom.”
“I would appreciate if siblings showed kindness to each other in our home!”
“I would like to see a clean room with papers off the floor and clothing in the hamper.”

3. Start a “No Nagging” campaign:

The best way to change a behavior is to enlist the support of your family. In this case, you want to ask your kids and spouse to help you stop nagging. You can say:

“Guys, I have been nagging way to much! I need help. How can we get stuff done around here so that I don’t need to nag you about it?”

“What would be the best way for me to ask you guys for help without nagging?”

We don’t want to nag and now we can put these strategies to work. It is tough to change our behavior but it can be done. There are better ways to inspire cooperation in our homes. Knowing what phrases to avoid, what to say instead and enlisting your family’s support are all great ways to stop the nagging and get the help you need so your home is running smoothly.

Adina Soclof

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