Admit it. Sometimes you are worse than your toddler. When parenting toddlers, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all, at some point, turned into an adult-sized child. We throw our own tantrums, we nag our kids worse than they nag us, and we act and react based on emotion, no matter how silly it seems later.
Nagging your kids is not the same as raising your voice. I define it as asking your child to do something in a whiny voice. I’m guilty of this too, but if I catch myself doing it I’m able to replace that nasty habit with communication tools that are a lot more effective. I think that most parents are either not aware they are nagging, or they just don’t know what else to do. I want to change that.
In this article, I simply want to point out the behavior so that you are more aware of it when you do it. Then, you can stop what you are doing and implement some better alternatives. There is always a better way.
Parents tend to nag their kids when they are doing something that is not allowed or not desired. “Elizabeth, stop pulling on the dog’s tail … come on Liz … how many times do I have to tell you to leave the dog alone? Liz, the dog doesn’t like it when you do that … do you want him to bite you?” We both know this almost never works.
Parents also nag their kids when they are not doing something that the parent wants them to do. “Robbie, come to the table and eat your lunch. Come on, Robbie … Mommy made you a yummy sandwich and I want you to come sit down right now. Robbie … you can play with your toys after lunch. Come sit down for lunch”.
Between those two examples I’m sure you get the drift. The pattern is almost always the same. You, as a parent, are focused on what you want your child to do, or perhaps to stop doing. You ask once, and nothing happens. Your child ignores you. You ask again, but this time with stronger reasons, hoping your child will suddenly become rational. Rinse and repeat.
When you want to get your child to change his or her course of action, it doesn’t matter how many times you ask. If your child ignored you the first time then he won’t listen the second or third time. Somewhere inside, you know this is true, and you adapt by changing your tone of voice until you are either yelling or nagging. Neither is very effective, both cause you added stress and perhaps worse, they teach your child the same lousy communication strategies. Kids learn from mom and dad, after all.
So what can you do instead? When you catch yourself nagging, just stop for a moment. Reflect on what you are trying to accomplish. Are you expecting a small child to be a rational thinker? It isn’t going to happen. What else can you say to get the message across, or to distract your child from whatever he is doing? A great starting point is to enter your child’s world by incorporating things that will interest your child into the conversation. You could also use what I call “the illusion of choice” so that whatever choice your child takes is in alignment with what you want.
If you’ve purchased a copy of my audio course, “Talking to Toddlers”, then take what you’ve learned and apply it to these types of problems. I believe that parents run into resistance because they stick to a direct “do this” mentality of ordering their kids around. They expect their kids to understand logic and reason. Parenting toddlers is a lot more fun and less stressful when you can use softer, indirect methods to get your kids to do what you want.
The most important thing to take away from this article is the realization that we all nag our kids more than we should. It’s not particularly effective, and if you can stop yourself before you get too deep into it, you’ll easily be able to make use of any number of parenting tricks. Remember. Nothing works when you lose your cool.
If you haven’t already done so, go and get my free audio lesson where I’ll teach you 3 simple language strategies that you can start using right away. Click here to get the free lesson. Or simply look for the sign-up form at the top of this page.