Why Nagging Your Child Doesn’t Work

Do you nag your children?

why nagging your child doesn't workPerhaps this sounds all too familiar …

  • “How many more times do I have to tell you to clean your room? It’s a pig sty! I don’t know how you live in it. It’s no wonder you can’t find anything …”
  • “Did you put your dirty clothes in the basket? It won’t get done spread all over your bedroom floor. There’s no magic fairy around here. All I ask you to do is the simple task of putting your school uniform in the laundry basket and it’s just too hard …”
  • “Why do you always have to put on that shirt with the button missing? You have at least three others and you just have to wear that one. What’s wrong with you. I tell you over and over and you refuse to do anything to help in this family … “

Oh, and let’s not start on trying to get a teenager out of bed in the morning – or into bed at night!

Most parents nag their kids (especially in the teen years), even though deep down they know it doesn’t really work. But it can be a difficult habit to break.

And so it goes on, day after day after day, your children seem deaf to your requests, demands, reminders, yes, let’s face it … nagging.

If nagging worked, we would all have wonderfully cooperative and well behaved children.

Unfortunately, numerous family disagreements stem from parental nagging – according to research, it’s the cause of around 50% of arguments with teenagers.

Parents Don’t Mean to Nag

But to be fair, most parents don’t mean to nag and the motivation is benign – surely a few reminders can’t do any harm? After all, we feel we need to teach our kids about housework, and pitching in to get things done? Our patience is sorely tried as our kids show little appreciation for what we do for them, and it is all so frustrating!

So if we are so well meaning in our nagging, then why do our kids ignore or even get angry with us?

It’s not so much the nagging, but the message they are receiving behind the constant reminders. The loudest part of the nag is that kids feel we just don’t trust them. They take it as a low blow, and it can undermine their self confidence.

During puberty particularly, our kids are plagued by self doubt as well as numerous other physical and psychological changes. It’s a period of dramatic change, growth and challenges, and teens and pre-teens, in spite of their seemingly confident exteriors, have difficulty trusting themselves.

Nagging: a Vicious Cycle

Consequently, it is not surprising that our kids respond to our nagging by sullenly withdrawing into their bedrooms or attacking and arguing, instead of complying with our request.

Parents too, feel angry, hurt and frustrated. It’s a vicious cycle all round.

The first step in resolving these family disputes is to stop nagging:

  • Become aware of when you are nagging.
  • Listen to how you are coming across.
  • Accept it is not the solution.
  • Decide whether the nagging is for your child’s good – or good for you!

For many of us, shifting gears from control over a small child who fits in with our expectations and is eager to please us, to acceptance of a teen or pre-teen seemingly intent on pushing the boundaries (and all our buttons!), is a difficult transition.

This transition is made more difficult by the fact that parents just don’t give up authority easily, especially when their child is still financially dependent on them.

nagging doesn't work

How to Quit Nagging

Fortunately, when you feel the urge to nag, there are a number of behaviours you can substitute for a more positive outcome, and build an improved relationship with your child.

There are no ideal substitutes that all parents can adopt and what we do is different for everyone and for different situations. One parent, for example, whenever she wanted to nag, substituted the nag for a compliment.

One thing we can do, when we become aware of our expertise in nagging and the reasons for it, is to appreciate the side benefits of not nagging. Parents who stop nagging and use substitute behaviour almost always report reduced stress and positive consequences. Arguments drop significantly, and parents and kidss learn to get along without the constant bickering.

Funnily enough, when parents stop nagging, kids begin to do the tasks expected of them. Nagging just seems to provoke the undesired behaviour. Try using compliments instead!

If you are tired of the anger, frustration and bickering in your house, and want help to quit nagging, please feel really comfortable in making an appointment to see me. I will be most happy to chat with you about your personal situation and discuss some strategies that you can enjoy trying out.

Dr Jan Philamon Psychologist for childrenAuthor: Dr Jan Philamon, PhD, BA (Hons) Psychology, C Teach, JP (Qual) Qld, MAPS.

As a registered teacher and a psychologist, Dr Jan Philamon has a wealth of experience with children, however she enjoys helping people from all walks of life. Jan aims to help people to be the best they can be and find success: improved wellbeing, gaining a sense of empowerment that allows them to actively problem solve and manage obstacles constructively, as well as positively plan and achieve their personal and career goals.

To make an appointment with psychologist and hypnotherapist Dr Jan Philamon, try online booking – Loganholme or call M1 Psychology (Loganholme) on (07) 3067 9129.