This post: Stop Nagging Your Teen: 10 Doable Tips to Create More Peace in Your Home
“Your bedroom is a mess! For the fifth time, I want you to clean it… today!”
“You left your dirty dishes in the sink… again.”
“Did you turn that form in at school? I’ve been asking you for a week. Are you listening?”
Nagging. Nearly every parent I know has been guilty of it at one time or another (including me).
Life gets busy and exhausting and chaotic and we get tired, frustrated, and worn out from keeping so many balls in the air – (balls that no one seems to notice that we’re constantly juggling… until we drop one of them, that is).
We lose our patience, we lose our empathy and before we know it, our kids are tossing out comments like “Will you quit nagging me! I said I would!” or “Mom, you’re always nagging me and I hate it!” And, that’s when you realize that what you’re doing isn’t working. In fact, not only is it not working, it’s quite possibly damaging your relationship with your kids.
The truth is, I don’t like it when I nag and I don’t like my kids’ reactions or responses when I do. At a time in their lives when I want (and need) to be drawing them closer to me and building more trust and connection, I don’t want to be pushing them away because I’ve suddenly been labeled (in their book) as a “nagger.”
(Plus, here’s something you may not know. Studies have proven that when we nag, parts of our kids’ brains literally shut down, which means when our kids act like they aren’t listening, there’s a good chance they actually aren’t.)
What I’ve found is that being a nagger is just as irritating as being nagged. That’s why I gave it some serious thought and decided I was going to do my best to STOP.
Here are a few tips and tricks I’ve used that might help you stop nagging your teen.
Stop Nagging Your Teen: 10 Doable Tips to Create More Peace in Your Home
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#1 Identify the Triggers
If you pay close attention, chances are you’ll begin to notice a pattern or “triggers” that have a tendency to put your nagging into action. In our house, it’s always chores that didn’t get done, dirty dishes left all over the kitchen and my kids’ messy (slightly disgusting) bedrooms.
Whether you list them on a piece of paper or list them in your head, once you identify the triggers that are setting you off and causing you to nag, you can approach those instances with more self-awareness and work toward a more peaceful solution with your kids.
#2 Set Clear (Constant) Expectations
In my house, my son knows that one of his responsibilities is to take the garbage cans out to the street on garbage day and bring them back in the following day. My daughters know it’s their responsibility to change the cat’s kitty litter. I’ve pounded it into their heads.
Rather than tossing out varying chores or tasks that are constantly changing, create a list that’s solely their responsibility. Knowing that every day, week or month, they’re responsible for taking out the garbage, feeding the pets or mowing the lawn, it will help them create a routine and alleviate a whole lot of nagging.
#3 Pick Your Battles
Not everything is worth agonizing over. Not everything matters. If your list of nag “triggers” is long, try prioritizing them. What matters the most to you? If the fact that your teen makes themselves a snack and leaves the kitchen a total disaster is your top trigger, focus on that first.
Talk to your teen. Set your expectations. Add consequences, if needed. I can’t tell you how many times I said to my kids, “Sure, I can drive you over to your friend’s house – after you clean up the mess you made in the kitchen.”
#4 Keep it Brief
I read an article once that offered great advice to quit nagging. Instead of barking out long-winded reminders and orders, “Remember, you said you’d clean out the garage today and I really need it clean because Aunt Joanne and Uncle Mark are coming over this weekend and it’s a disaster…” Instead, keep it to one or two words – “Garage!” “Bedroom!” “Homework!”
You can also put a note on their bedroom door or on their dresser/desk in their bedroom. Bottom line, keep it simple and brief.
#5 Create a No-Nag To-Do List
Rather than nagging them to do something now, what I’ve found works is simply creating a “no-nag to-do list” and leaving it where they can find it. (Don’t overcrowd the list with tons of to-dos – that freaks teens out.)
Just put your top three things on the list and the date you’d like them completed. That way your teen has some latitude when they choose to do it. (You can also add consequences to the list so they know you mean business.)
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#6 When Possible, Let it Be on Their Terms
Don’t insist that a chore be done on your timeline. “I want your bedroom clean today.” “You’ve got to clean out the garage this afternoon.” When possible, give them a little leeway on timing. If it isn’t urgent or necessary, try saying, “I’d like you to clean your room – can you get it done by Sunday?”
#7 Remember, They’re Teenagers
We have to remember, our kids’ priorities don’t align with ours and they don’t see things the way we see things. Hence, the reason why our kids can walk past an overflowing garbage can ten times without noticing, caring or doing anything about it.
We can’t expect our kids to view life through our lens. We have to come to terms with the fact that they may not fully “get it” until they become adults, have a house or apartment of their own, or they face, first-hand, the consequences of their actions or inactivity.
#8 Settle for a Partial Victory
When I asked my kids to clean their bedrooms, I was initially looking for a spic n’ span room – you know the way I would have cleaned it. I quickly realized that wasn’t going to happen. Their idea of clean and my idea of clean was completely different.
Instead, I settled for a compromise. If their dirty clothes made it to the hamper, if they brought down any dishes or cups they were hoarding and they (at least attempted to) put clean clothes away where they belong, I considered it a win. Sometimes, we need to settle for progress, not perfection.
#9 Keep Things in Perspective
Our kids’ lives are oftentimes busy. School, homework, sports, extracurriculars, volunteering, a job, friends and family obligations can leave even the most energetic teens dog tired.
Cut your teen some slack when you know they’re overwhelmed, stressed or have a lot on their plate. Surprise them by doing the chore for them. (You’ll win big brownie points with them if you do.) If you’re flexible and understanding, your teen will be flexible and understanding when you ask them to do something.
#10 Keep the Goal in Mind
When you catch yourself nagging, stop and remind yourself what the goal is – to relieve stress and have a more peaceful and connective relationship with your teen and to have a more peaceful home with less arguing, yelling, and nagging. We owe it to ourselves and our kids to (at least try to) stop the nagging once and for all.
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