NAGGING OR TEACHING... are we nagging our children or teaching responsibility


Are we nagging our children when we think we’re teaching them responsibility?

It’s easy to do.  And being the parent we think we’re right.  But are we?

There is a difference between teaching responsibility and nagging.  Sometimes, we get frustrated with them because we see the negative in us emerge through them.  Is that their fault?  Of course not.  Is it ours? Not always because we don’t realize what we’re doing.

Parenting is a circle of hit and misses.  But it’s the misses we must pay attention to, and if we’re lucky, we will learn more about ourselves as we go along – if we’re willing to put aside our ego and acknowledge, “Okay, let me retrace my steps, see what went wrong, the words I used, the actions I used, and start over.”

We all want our children to take responsibility for themselves, starting at a young age.  When they start crawling, that’s the time to start teaching responsibility.  You can never start too early!  Have a small basket nearby and crawl with them to toss their toys into the basket at the end of the day.

But as they get older, it can turn into nagging.  Do they even listen to us if they feel like it’s nagging?  Probably not.  It’s frustrating when you think you’ve taught them, and showed them by your actions, to take responsibility for everything from homework to cleaning up after themselves and they still do not do it for one reason or another.   We as parents feel hurt and frustrated because we’ve tried everything.  Maybe switching gears a little may help.

Maybe it’s the way we’re speaking to them.  Instead of, “Didn’t I tell you no T.V. until your homework is done!”  Ask questions.  “I know you were excited about staying on schedule with getting your homework completed by 6:00 P.M., how is that coming along?”  Instead of, “We’re not leaving this house until your bed is made, how many times do I have to repeat myself!” (No question mark because in our mind, it is a rhetorical question!), ask, “I know we agreed your goal was to make your bed every day this week, how is that coming along?”

It’s very important that they SEE US take responsibility, as well.  We really shouldn’t tell our children to keep their room spotless if we’re not going to do the same.   Keep their bathroom spotless, if we’re not keeping ours that way.  It’s not always that the child is hardheaded or rebellious, sometimes – and this is difficult as a parent to say – it is us.  It’s what we’re doing, or not doing, or it is the way we are presenting it to them.  And how we react to their actions, speaks volumes to them, especially when you do keep everything spotless and do everything right, and expect them to follow.

Every child is different.  So are parents.  When we focus on our responsibilities, and ‘show’ them we did, and even say, “It feels so good to make the commitment to myself to go to the gym four times this week, and actually do it! I did it, and it feels great!” There’s a very good chance soon thereafter your child will follow in your footsteps for his or her own goals.*

The main thing is that we as parents never stop trying to guide and help our children anyway we can.  As parents we have to be creative because every child is special and unique, and so are we! Their actions aren’t perfect, but are ours?  As long as we keep searching for what will work for that special individual child, then we need to pat ourselves on the back, because we deserve it!

Debbie Caldwell

*There are developmental problems that should be addressed by a professional, such as ADD, if you feel you’ve exhausted every avenue and still having issues.