“Can you please clear your plates from the table, for the 100th time?”
“Why are there shoes in the middle of the family room? You guys know where they go!”
“Please, turn off the XBox. Do not make me say it again.”
These are just a few of the ways I nag… Sound familiar? Please say I’m not alone! And here’s the thing: Nagging works. Eventually. With a groan and a grumble, the kids do what they’re asked. But is this the way we want things to work in our homes?
1. Nagging is effective, but results are slow and temporary.
Nagging, by very definition (Dictionary.com), is relentless. It takes a long time for obedience to happen. The consequence for us is that we have to spend a lot of our time doing it. And although it works for the moment, it seems like most of the time, the shoes are right back in the middle of the family room the next day.
2. Nagging causes anger to build up.
There’s this funny verse in the Bible that says, “A nagging spouse is like the drip, drip, drip of a leaky faucet; You can’t turn it off, and you can’t get away from it.” It’s irritating to everyone being nagged, and it’s frustrating for the one doing the nagging too! Anger builds up, and at some point, it’s going to come exploding out.
3. Nagging communicates anxiety.
When we nag, we may not realize that we are “keeping in a state of troubled awareness” (Dictionary.com). We find faults everywhere we look — the undone chores, the lack of respect for the rules, and even in our kids’ behavior in public. We can walk around in this constant state of “things aren’t right” and it feels very unsettling inside. Our kids and husband can feel it too.
How to Stop Nagging
Anxiety comes from a fear that things aren’t okay, and that things aren’t going to improve — in fact, they might get worse. I’ve felt this before myself. Do you feel this way, deep down? If so, addressing your own anxiety is a great place to start. Find someone to talk to, whether it’s a friend or professional. It really is possible to find peace and hope amidst the imperfections of life.
Use consequences instead.
We all know about rewards and consequences, but why do we delay using them and nag instead? Because we are human, and we often take the path of least resistance. Have a family meeting and re-establish clear rules and consequences. Want to really make an impression? Try using creative consequences! Then agree with your spouse to hold each other accountable so that you follow through.
Start to turn around the “anxious vibe” in your house by verbalizing thankfulness. Pointing out the positives instead of the negatives will help to change the overall mood. Try a thankfulness chalkboard or gratitude journal. You’ll find that kids will want to please you more and more as they hear your thankfulness for what they have already done.
What do you find to be more effective than nagging?