It’s a pattern that’s easy to slip into but there are ways to break the nagging cycle…
Whether your teen has been accusing you of being a nag or you’ve caught yourself repeating the same pleads and gripes over and over to an uninterested teenager, you’ve already made the first step: you’re here because you realise that nagging has become a negative stumbling block in you and your teen’s relationship.
Why Do I Nag?
There are many reasons for nagging. You may feel as if your teen simply won’t do a chore or carry out a task without you having to plead over and over again. Nagging often comes from a place of frustration because all you want is for your child to respond positively, act and take responsibility.
Nagging Doesn’t Work
It really doesn’t. Think back to your own teenage years and how you felt when your own mother or father nagged you. Would you say those memories are positive or negative?
Nagging can make your teen feel undervalued, angry and upset. Yes, they may eventually respond to your nagging and do that thing you’ve been asking them to take care of for weeks, but the emotions they’ll feel are likely to be resentment and anger. Your teen may also feel as if you’re controlling them, especially if you’ve resorted to a threat of punishment if they don’t comply.
Then, of course, there’s that infamous teenage rebellious streak to consider. The more you put the foot down and insist, the deeper they’ll dig their heels in. Nagging is a negative form of communication and it can drive a wedge between a parent and child.
Finally, the thought of being a nag most likely fills you with dread. You might cringe inside when you hear yourself nagging and wish you could find a more positive way to connect with your teenager. The good news? There are things you can try to help you stop nagging.
The Power Of Positivity
Swap negative nagging for positive praise and encouragement. Sounds tricky but, with practice, you’ll get the hang of it. When your teen does something well, let them know about it. Offer praise and thanks for the smallest achievements – your teenager will be far more likely to repeat a chore or offer a helping hand in future. A little positive reinforcement can go a long way – just ask Pavlov’s dogs!
Let Them Own Their Responsibilities
Talk to your teenager about how they’d best like to manage their chores and responsibilities. Perhaps they’d prefer for you to write a list once a week and leave them to work through it without constant vocal reminders. Agree to deadlines and ask that they stick by them. This places the responsibility firmly with them and gives them space to work through the list at their own pace. Give your teenager the chance to prove themselves to you and try to stifle the urge to remind them of their chores when you find an overspilling laundry basket or a pile of incomplete homework. When deadline day comes around, you can look at the list together and discuss what has (and potentially hasn’t) been done.
Help your teenager to plan their schoolwork and/or household chores. You can create simple timetables or use a chalkboard to give them a helpful structure to the week. Having a visual chart reduces the need for you to remind them of what needs to be done and so reduces the likelihood of arguments and frayed tempers.
Let Them Know You Care
Most nagging usually come from a place of worry – you may have concerns about things like your teen’s happiness, maturity or their personal hygiene. Instead of saying “Will you please tidy your bedroom, it’s disgusting!”, for example, you could lead with concern. Try saying something like, “I noticed you haven’t been keeping on top of tidying your room as often as you usually do. Is everything okay?”. Voicing your request in this way is far more likely to get positive results.
Practice Makes Perfect
Don’t expect nagging to be a thing of the past straight away. It takes time, effort and plenty of patience to master positive communication. Like most habits, it can be difficult to break and there will be hiccups along the way but it will get easier. Your teen will thank you for it – and you’ll thank yourself for kicking your inner nag into touch!