5 Ways to Stop Nagging Your Kids

Although nagging can eventually be effective, it’s just not pleasant for anyone involved. 

Cheryl Butler,
April 11, 2016
Episode #373

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I recently received several e-mails from Mighty Mommy listeners who admit the only way they seem to get their kids to listen is to either raise their voice a lot (OK, yell!) or just as bad drone on with neverending nagging. This is resulting in a really negative family atmosphere so they want to turn it around, and fast.

Fess up: are you a nagger? Most parents would agree that the one thing that really drives them crazy is asking, and asking, and asking again for their kids to do some simple task. When the task doesn't get completed within a reasonable time schedule, we lose our patience and that's when we start letting loose with unpleasant commentary, otherwise known as nagging. 

We all know that nagging is about as effective as scraping nails on a chalkboard—it's unpleasant to listen to and it's a surefire way to drive those you care about far, far away. However, I recently read an interesting article that changed my way of thinking about nagging. Carl E Pickhardt Ph.D. believes that the term "nagging" might feel better to parents if they called this pursuit by its proper name: "supervision."  He writes, “It's what they sometimes have to do to get what they want accomplished. Wearisome though it can be, come adolescence nagging is honorable work. It needs to be done.”

Dr. Pickhardt goes on to say that for parents, nagging is exhausting to do, (Isn’t that the truth?) and that it’s the drudgework of parenting. Yet with impending adolescence, it becomes more necessary to do because as our kids get older and begin to exert their independence, now there is more active resistance (argument) and more passive resistance (delay) by the child who begins pushing for having more freedom on his/her own terms.

Although nagging can eventually be effective, it’s just not pleasant for anyone involved, so Mighty Mommy has five tips to nix the nagging and use a more positive approach to get the same results.

Tip #1: Silence is Golden

One way to get closer to your kids is to quit the nagging and replace it with a different approach. Persistent gentle reminders will get things done—better, faster, and with less stress. Think kindness rather than anger and patience rather than barking out orders. 

Easier said than done, right? Not necessarily. 

A few years ago, unbeknownst to me, one of my kids videotaped me when I was having a fit about the dishes not being done. When she shared the video with me, and the rest of the family, I was mortified.  Although I had every right to expect the dishes to be done after asking about it at least six times, my nagging approach made me sound like a pathetic lunatic. What's worse, it was clear that everyone was tuning me out. 

That moment left a lasting impression on me; so much so that I made a pact with myself to nix the nagging once and for all.  Now I ask once for a job to be done and if it's not done in a timely manner, I simply go to the child responsible for the task and quietly, matter-of-factly remind them of their responsibility. Failure to comply results in the addition of an extra chore besides the one that wasn't accomplished. In our house, silence is now golden!

See also: 5 Ways to Speak Positively to Children

Tip #2:  No Nagging Diet

Kids will nag their parents about the same thing countless times in order to get their way. Parents finally cave because they just don’t want to hear it anymore. How many times can you listen to your tween moan that all her friends are allowed to hang out for an hour after the movie gets out?

Nagging, however, goes both ways—we as parents can be pretty fluent in nagging when we’re trying to get our kids to do their chores, finish their homework, or get to bed at a reasonable hour.

If you want to put a fresh spring in your parenting step suggest that your family go on a no-nagging diet. Become aware of your tone of voice, how you ask one another for things, and how you react to your children’s endless requests.  Nagging can ultimately become a bad habit, so turn down the negative dial and increase the positive channels instead. Check out my episode 5 Ways to Say "Yes" to Your Kids for more tips on dialing down the negativity in your home.

Tip #3:  Redirect Your Delivery

Too often we as parents focus on what our kids aren’t doing right rather than what is going well, and that’s understandable at times when we’re all busy with our hectic day-to-day lives and are trying to keep everything in our home, school, and work lives running smoothly.


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