The Bad Habit of Nagging

Ever listen to a dripping faucet?  It can quickly become an annoyance.  But have you ever considered that maybe this is how we sound to our teens?

Nagging is oftentimes attributed to wives.  We have somehow earned this stereotype.  Yet the reality is that parents can easily fall prey to this bad (and annoying) habit.

Here’s what I think happens when we start nagging our teen.  Suddenly all they hear is the sound Charlie Brown’s teacher makes when she talks.

In other words, we are incomprehensible.  Nothing is getting through because they stop hearing what we are saying.

No wonder we find ourselves asking our teen, “Are you listening to me?”  The answer is quite simple….no, they aren’t.

I tend to be a nag, especially with my youngest son.  I would like to blame it on the fact that he doesn’t respond as quickly as my other children do.  Yet the fact remains that it gets me nowhere.

One of the things I am really trying to work on this year is to stop nagging him.  Instead, I need to implement consequences or allow natural ones to occur.

Here is a common scenario:

“It’s time to feed the dogs.”  He replies, “Just a minute.”

About 15 minutes later, I say (with my volume a little louder), “Feed the dogs, please!”  Then I get what we have dubbed as his famous last words, “Hold on.”

Twenty minutes later the dogs are starving and I am angry.  I don’t think you need me to paint a picture of what happens next.

So how would a consequence work in this situation?  Here’s what I’m thinking.  Instead of telling my son to feed the dogs, I will give him a deadline.  It might be around 5:00 and I will say instead, “I need the dogs fed by 5:30.”

Of course, I anticipate the usual “Hold on” or “Just a minute.”  When 5:30 comes and the dogs haven’t been fed, the internet gets disconnected (since this is most likely the reason he is not responding).

This sounds good in theory.  Breaking the bad habit of being a nag isn’t going to be easy.  But I think the consequences will get through much clearer and I can avoid becoming angry.

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