When your child doesn’t do what you want them to when you want them to do it the easiest thing in the world is to start nagging them. You remind them every ten minutes that homework needs to be started or that the garbage needs taking out. It wears you out and it gets you nowhere!
I know, it is difficult not to nag when you think your child isn’t going to do what you asked him or her to do. You may not even be aware that you are doing it. It may have become a habit that everyone ignores – except you. You get angry, upset and exhausted.
So stop nagging. It never did any good and children learn to not hear when you do this. They learn to ignore you and you don’t want that to happen.
So what do you do instead?
First you tell your child that you are going to stop nagging him or her. You are not going to do it anymore. It is too exhausting and it makes you feel bad. And you actually are going to stop nagging – even though the idea scares you because how is your child going to get his homework started if you are not there to nag him to do it?
This is the hardest part. You have to trust the process. You have to follow through and be consistent and help your child develop responsibility for their actions.
So, now you have told your child you will no longer nag what do you do instead?
You tell your child that you will ask once – make sure he understands what you have asked – and then remind him ONE MORE TIME if he doesn’t start doing what you asked.
You don’t set the timeline. If you want your child to start homework he has to decide what time to start. If he leaves it too late he will not get his work done and have to suffer the consequences. He will soon learn. At first he will be waiting for you to nag him to start and be surprised when you don’t. Don’t let that put you off. And don’t let him blame you when things go wrong. He may say – ‘You didn’t remind me!’ But you have already told him that you will only remind him once. The responsibility to start his homework then becomes his.
Is this going to work first time? Probably not.
Is your child going to get flustered and angry? Possibly.
Is your child going to start taking responsibility for his own actions? Yes, if you remind him or about the ‘only once’ rule and keep to it.
But there is another side to this. You have to do what your child asks, after only one reminder! You can’t let your child nag you so you too have to live by the rule.
I never said parenting was easy but only you can help your child develop the skills that lead to success.
Let me know how you get on.
Dr. Patricia Porter