Nag, Nag, Nag

I hate being a nag, I really do. However, on occasion, I find myself slipping into ‘repeat’ mode. I’m reminding the kids five times to do their laundry; finish their spelling work; put the glass in the sink; get to the kitchen table; and more. I will not be doing this any longer!

To prevent myself from becoming a permanent nag, I’ve decided it’s time to take action. All instructions will now be divided into two categories: Do it Now or Countdown.

Do It Now – In emergency situations, we don’t have time for our kids to second guess our decisions or question whether they need to move quickly. If I tell our kids to sit down, they need to do it immediately; not two minutes later. If I tell them to stop, they should do so on the spot.
While, hopefully, emergencies are not part of our weekly routine, there are still situations in which immediate action needs to be taken or should not be avoided, at any rate. Dinner is being served; kids need to get out the door; bedtime has arrived; and so forth. Some commands need to be taken care of immediately or consequences need to be doled out. What are those consequences? Each family needs to make those decisions for themselves. Whatever they are, I highly recommend establishing the boundaries and letting the kids know exactly what they’re in for if they choose not to obey. Once the ground rules have been stated, there is no excuse for lack of action.

Countdown – Let’s face it, when we’re in the middle of a creative flow, we hate being interrupted; our kids are no different. If we see our children in the middle of a project and need to interrupt them to handle something, I try to meet them halfway. We usually assess each situation and set a time limit on when said ‘chore’ needs to be accomplished. For example: Our kids might be in the middle of doing a little programming and I need them to transfer their laundry to the dryer. I will let them know I am setting a timer for ten minutes. They have ten to make sure the laundry gets handled and then there will be consequences.
No nagging on my part; no stress on theirs. Our children have a choice, live within the guidelines or be willing to accept the consequences. Often, they will push to the limit and barely get it done, other times they will surprise me and move immediately. Either way, they get it done and I don’t have to keep reminding them. 

How are our children expected to differentiate between ‘Do it Now’ and ‘Countdown’? Easy; we use concise language when communicating with our children. “T, I would like you to put that in the sink now.” “Little Lady, I would like your laundry transferred. I understand you are programming right now. I’ll give you five minutes to save your project and then handle the chore.” Once our children learn the lingo, they will understand whether they need to move quickly or have a few minutes to spare. What happens if I give a quick command? Words such as “Stop!” or “Sit”? All commands not given a specific time limit are expected to be done immediately.

I will add, as a side note, our kids are free to ask for time. If I ask them to do something, but they need a minute to get it done, they are free to ask for the minute. However, if the minutes goes by and the action is still not done, there will be consequences. In addition, if they ask for the minute and are refused, they are expected to be polite and respectful of the refusal.

With these basic guidelines implemented, mommy feels like less of a nag and the kids feel less pressured. They might not like the consequences of their poor choices, but they are being trained and learning time management. No more nagging here!

Time to Chime In:

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” – Colossians 4:6

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13 thoughts on “Nag, Nag, Nag

  1. I feel your pain and then some. I have a special needs teen who sometimes absolutely refuses to do something and his father is a micromanager which makes teaching him to do things on his own a NIGHTMARE. I don’t want to stand over a child dictating basic functions like glass in sink, etc…..I totally understand what you mean and thanks for your article!

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  2. I know how it feels to feel like a nag – I really don’t like it and try to use constructive language. Sometimes I slip, but then try and haul myself back on track. It’s hard tho, when your teenage hormonal daughter finds it necessary to counteract every verbal direction, with a series if waylaying comments and questions. One way trip to frustrationville lol.

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    • I understand completely. I have three girls; two who are in the midst of young adult angst. They aren’t little kids and they aren’t yet adults. I think it’s tricky for both sides. They are trying to become mature and make decisions for themselves, all while remaining respectful to the adults who raised them. The adults are trying to finish their job, while letting go a little at a time. It takes humility and a lot of graciousness from all.

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  3. I feel the same – I was determined not to get into nag mode! I decided first to make a decision to ignore all the little irrelevant things – and yes, that sometimes ended up with me perhaps putting stuff away for other people! And secondly, to make sure the big things were important and really go for them!! Then there were times when I broke my rules and just had my own tantrum!!! 🙂

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  4. I am most guilty of expecting my children to jump up and do something for me (usually a chore) when they are in the middle of something they feel is very important. I love the timer idea and also the request for more time. We are working on communicating more effectively in these instances. “Mom, I just need to finish up (fill in the blank) while it’s fresh on my mind and then I’ll get right on those dishes.” Luckily, my kids are pretty good at following through, eventually. 😉

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  5. We give our children a 5 minute warning before a change e.g. It will be time to pack up for lunch in 5 minutes. It gives them time to prepare for obedience, means they can finish that “just one thing” that will need to be done and when the instruction is then given they should be ready to obey immediately. Consequences are given at that point if they will not obey. Of course there are other times when no warning is given and they just need to obey straight away the first time.

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  6. Why all the talk about consequences? I have 6 kids and they all do chores without a lot of nagging. Why not provide rewards instead? The standard is they do their 2 chores each after dinner. The reward is they get a snack before bed. If the chore isn’t done, they go to bed without a snack and get to do the chore in the am.

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    • We use the word ‘consequences’ so our children understand there is a response to certain behavior brought about by their own decisions/actions. This is not their parents being upset with them, this is the result of their choices.

      In adult life, most actions do not come with a reward for doing what is good. Instead, there is a consequence for not doing what is expected of you. Rewards are for going above and beyond what is expected or as a blessing; not for doing what was asked.

      If our children do not understand the concept of painful (not necessarily physical) consequences for poor choices, when will they learn to obey the law? You are not rewarded for obeying; respectively, you are punished for failing to do so.

      Incidentally, consequences are not always bad. Some consequences are good and should be celebrated.

      Good question though! I’d love to hear others thoughts on this concept.

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    • Hi Elizabeth, We do try to keep a positive approach whenever possible with lots of encouragement and praise for a job well done. There is however a place for consequences. There is also a big difference between bribing, rewarding and giving goal incentives. When children know that they will be given a snack for their chores it is effectively a payment system or bribe – You do chores, I give you a snack. For an explanation on the difference and some ideas on how to develop character, see http://angathome.com/2011/10/03/the-marble-jar-is-full/

      Liked by 1 person

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