Nagging stops children from taking initiative. This anxious micro-managing only teaches kids to dawdle and resist requests. Children want to be in charge of their own lives. So when the parent gives the reminder, they resist. They are so used to getting reminders that they wait for another reminder to do the task—and besides, once they have been reminded, they feel that doing the task is no longer their responsibility; it is the parents.
“I was just about to empty the dishwasher, but now that you have asked me, I DON’T WANT TO.”
Nagging also teaches children not to listen to the parent’s pleasant tone of voice. Children become conditioned to wait for the angry tone by their frustrated parents. “Why don’t you ever listen to me?!”
When parents lose their tempers, they often feel guilty. So, they work hard at a softer, kind approach the next time.
“Hey, Sweetie, would you mind emptying the dishwasher?”
Sweetie, sensing the guilt and uncertainty, doesn’t respond. Oops, here we go…
“I ASKED YOU NICELY, HOW MANY TIMES TO I HAVE TO REPEAT MYSELF?”
Well, probably 55 times per day per child, and if you are married, double that figure. You, dear parent, have fallen into a trap, and you are training your child to blame you when things go wrong.
What to do?
First of all, notice how many times you go to remind, direct and take over before your children have a chance to think. Stop yourself from doing this.
Second, if it is a family issue such as emptying the dishwasher, it helps if the agreement of time was in place beforehand. Stand in front of said child, smile, say “dishwasher.” Stay there, still smiling. “It’s five o’clock, you said you would do it before four.” Tone serious, face pleasant to neutral still standing there. Your body language gets to say, I mean this, I’m here, it matters.
If it is a child’s responsibility that only really impacts the child, why are you nagging? Your child will learn more from the natural consequences if the consequences aren’t devastating. When the natural consequence happens, don’t teach your child a lesson or say, “I told you so.” That is another reason kids don’t listen.
Give your child true empathy, not the manipulative kind! “You sound disappointed about your mark for the paper.” If you can see that this is part of learning, you won’t be tempted to take the problem over or feel sympathy. Sympathy makes kids feel incapable. It also causes said parent to rescue.