Just for Today, I Will Not Nag My Child

All I do is nag my child.  I do not want to be this kind of mom. My time with my child is precious. And it’s limited, especially during the school year when he is gone for hours, then comes home to activities, homework, and sometimes, chores.

My few opportunities to have “quality moments” with my tween are rushed. It starts in the morning when I open his blinds and nudge him awake, sometimes losing patience.

Then, I’m hurrying him to make and/or eat his breakfast. Not 10-15 minutes later, I’m rushing him to get dressed, brush his teeth and fill his water bottle. I’m likely mad he didn’t start making his lunch the night before.

Tired of being a nag

While I’m not meaning to, I am nagging him about waking up earlier, or I’m stressing out and telling him to make his lunch the night before. It’s too late for this wisdom — there’s nothing he can do about it now, right in this moment — but I can’t stop myself from saying all of these negative things.

stop nagging

Sometimes I’m rushing him to put everything in his backpack.

I’m want him to remember to include his homework, and possibly his band instrument and PE uniform, and anything else he needs.

Typically, I’m not even giving him time to remember any of these things on his own. My comments are reflexive.

Even as they are coming out of my mouth, I can’t stop myself from saying them. And these are on days that I drive him to school.

Everything gets even more harried on days he has to be ready 40 minutes earlier to take the bus to school.

And yes, of course he should go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. More on that later when I end my day with more nagging.

Well-meaning parents nag

Parents know this feeling. We want our kids to be prepared for their school day. We want them to eat and drink, go to the bathroom, brush their teeth, and go to school clean and prepared.

All of this “reminding” is to help them be successful. It’s for them, not us. Still, it’s so negative. When did this change happen? When did I stop letting my kid be a kid?

How did it happen that most all of my interactions with my child involve me correcting him, nagging him, or reminding him to do something?

Remember when our kids were babies, toddlers and preschoolers? Even when they were in their early elementary school years, I never nagged and complained at them.

Everything they did deserved praise and encouragement. I was offering positive reinforcement… always. When and why did I stop?

Being a nag throughout the day

Try as I might not to do it, my nagging continues when I see my child again, after school. Sometimes I pick up my middle schooler from school and sometimes he takes the bus. Either way, after a few lackluster, dead-end answers to my questions about his day, I start in with the stress.

What homework do you have? What is due tomorrow? Do you have any tests or quizzes to study for? Remember, you have soccer practice at 7pm.

It goes on and on.

Middle school-aged students already have so much going on with their changing bodies and brains.

It’s a challenging time in their lives with new routines and increased responsibilities in school. They are dealing with new social dynamics and social stresses. Why can’t I be a little bit more lenient and gentle with him now?

Stressed out kids

Kids have so many opportunities today. This brings on several challenges. It’s our culture and society to be busy and to over-schedule ourselves and our kids.

And it’s not wrong to want to keep kids engaged in activities for exercise and/or learning. Especially in this age of electronics and how online pursuits can get out of control quickly, this is more important that ever.

We know that part of the reason we nag is because there simply isn’t always enough time to do everything we need to do. But when did we go from thinking everything our child did was wonderful to thinking they are lacking in some way? When did it turn from me encouraging and supporting to becoming a nag? Even when it was really hard, I was positive in front of and to my kids.

Ways to stop nagging

As the years go faster with my kids, I know I need to make a change. I am going to try to stop lecturing and nagging my kids so much. I need them to start learning to deal with the consequences and take responsibility for their own time and decisions.

Maybe I can start with one or two gentle reminders. Even better, I am going to sit down with my son and explain how I don’t like how I’m always nagging him.

I will explain how I’m going to let go a bit more. I’ll let him know I will make mistakes and will probably still nag, often. However, I’ll be working on it.

Letting kids take ownership

In the meantime, I’m going to give him ownership of his situation. I will talk with him about his chunks of time — before school, after school, and before bed – and what he needs to get done. I’ll ask him what he thinks he needs to get done before offering my opinions.

Realistically, I know I can’t (and won’t) back off completely. But I can lessen the reins. I’m imagining he will rise to the occasion, at least some of the time.

He will at least start to learn to rely on himself — and not me — to control his time and the outcome… his destiny.

This destiny being that perhaps he is late for school one day. Or maybe his destiny will be that he didn’t finish his homework and has to wake up early the next morning to finish it.

Of course I want to remind him about personal hygiene and getting good grades. I want to make sure he eats healthy foods and gets enough sleep. This is where it gets challenging — because all of these things are really for his own good.

That’s what makes it really difficult to not nag your kids.

Nagging at night

When I cringe the most is when I’m nagging at my son to go to bed. It crushes me when he’s reading a book, and I am getting angry that he’s up late.

Most likely, I’m telling him to brush and floss his teeth without even asking him or checking his toothbrush to see if he already has.

We’ve barely spent any time together all day. And now to end the day and our time together, I’m usually negative. I’m usually tired and stressed out myself.

I don’t want to come off as mean, especially to my son, who I love more than anything. But I do.

And the irony is I want so much for him to be rested enough to have a good day tomorrow, that I’m being negative with him at that moment.

Ways to not be a nag

So, the goals: Be more patient. Discuss expectations. Be there when he falls but help him back up.

(Truly, I can go on and on…. I have lots of work to do in this department!)

Be kinder and gentler. Take 5 seconds before speaking to really think about what I want to say. Say more positive reinforcing things.

I can pick my battles, allowing myself only one or two nags per day. (How fun it will be to prioritize my most important nags!)

The great news is I have lots of room for improvement. Just like I want to be kinder to my kids, I will learn to ease up on myself as well. Things usually work out, no matter how much or little I intervene.

Here’s to less nagging! Have you learned to curb your nagging? PLEASE leave your tips in the Comments.

2 thoughts on “Just for Today, I Will Not Nag My Child”

  1. It’s hard not to nag. When I tell my kids to do what they are supposed to do so I don’t have to nag, they say, “Well, just don’t nag us then.” Ha!

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