May 5th, 2009 / 9 Comments
A reader asked, “I would LOVE to hear some tips on how to get the kids to do their chores. You know, without making me turn into the Wicked Witch of the West???”
This is one of the most common question I get asked by parents.
First, we all know that mothers are known to be nags. That is a stigma that we live with, and unfortunately we live up to the stereotype.
I admit to having a natural tendency to nag. After all, if I say it once and there is no reaction, it seems perfectly reasonable to say it again, at a higher pitch, and that should provoke a response. With this line of reasoning, surely a continuing increase of volume and frequently should eventually get my kid to pick up his socks!
Eventually what is to us an almost instinctual action to get our kids to do chores turns into nagging.
Nagging is not a mere harmless irritation. Here are 4 major problems with nagging:
1. The more we nag, the more our children tune us out. After a while, they don’t listen to us about anything anymore. They’ve tuned us out about picking up their socks and taking out the trash. Now they don’t listen to us about more important matters ofÂ values that we want to teach them. It’s just “mom going off babbling about something again.”Â We have effectively taught them that mom doesn’t have anything meaningful to say.
2. Another problem of nagging is the break down of relationship. After telling our child to pick up their socks for the 10th time, our voice gets hostile. We get angry and the tone in the home is not pretty anymore. They are mad, and we are madder. Your relationship with your child turns cold and harsh.Â And all that over picking up a pair of socks?
3. When the socks finally gets picked up, what is our usual response? By this time after continual nagging, do we feel like giving them positive accolades? “It’s about time!” is what we end up saying, thus perpetuating the vicious cycle; without any positive affirmation, the kids will definitely not want to do chores next time.
4. Nagging makes us feel bad about ourselves. I really don’t want to be bad-tempered badgering person. I look old and ugly when I am that way. At the end of the day, I feel guilty for having been a nag. Even if those socks got picked up, there is no satisfaction.
Nobody likes to be nagged. We don’t like to be nagged.
The first advice to get our kids to do chores is to curb our habit of nagging them to do chores.
Here are a how to stop nagging:
1. Stop talking in mid sentence. As soon as I hear myself saying the say the same thing more than once, I immediately stop. Don’t even finish the sentence. “Hurry up and go pick up”. STOP. Shut your mouth, and take 3 deep breaths.
2. Give your child a hug. As soon as you feel the steam rising and you have that urge to nag, put that energy into giving your child a big hug. “I was going to nag you about picking upÂ your socks, but I am going to hug you instead. You’re a great kid. I love you.” This will help you gain control of your temper and put things in perspective.
3. Ask your children for help. I tell my kids, “Whenever mommy starts to nag, would you give me the signal?” Decide on a funny signal such as singing a Beatles favorite (“I want to hold your hand” is pretty funny!) Something silly puts you back into good humor. It also signals to the kids that they haven’t done their chore.
4. Employ a new method. If after telling your children once, at most twice to do their chore and it does not get done, then you’ve got to change the method and try something different. Einstein says,”Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
In later posts in this series of Getting Your Kids to Do Chores, we will talk about other more effective methods to employ.
Let me nag you one more time – DO NOT NAG your kids!
Continue to Part 2 in this series on Getting Your Kids to do Chores.
Photo by Sunrise Ottah