Let us recall the teaching in the bible that says: “Fathers, do not nag your children lest they lose heart.” Most parents nag because they want the best for their children and want them to change for the better. They feel it is their duty as parents. The problem is that the more they nag,the less the children change. In some families, it gets to the point that if the parents tell the children to do something, they do just the opposite. Nobody is going to tell them what to do, certainly not their parents. In this scenario, the children and parents enter into power struggles and nobody wins. All involved wind up fighting and screaming and are left with bad feelings toward each other.
There are other children who do lose heart when their parents nag at them. Some become so discouraged and upset that they cease to function. They would please their parents if they could but they do not know how. Everything they do is either not good enough or is wrong. No matter how hard they try, they cannot seem to get it right. Some of these children become so afraid of displeasing their parents that they cease to take risks or withdraw from the struggle altogether with displays of inadequacy.
Obviously, nagging is not the way to help children to change
for the better. There are some practices which do help children change, however. It helps if parents learn these techniques and
put them into practice when their children are young. In that
way, they become automatic. Some parents know these guidelines but because of their temperaments find it difficult to apply
them. I encourage you to try again as a new school year begins to
make it a year joy, rebirth and new beginnings.
First, communicate with your children OFTEN when they are
doing things right. By often, I mean at least once a day. It
can be something very innocuous like thanking them for noticing
and picking up a paper on the floor or telling them they look
nice. Most parents assume that is what children should be doing
so make no comment. If you do that, you will find yourself
communicating with them only when they have done something wrong
or annoying. That is nagging.
When you want your children to do something, be very
concrete in your requests. Children are concrete thinkers, but most parents’ requests are abstract. Be Good. Be Neat. Be
Smart. Instead of saying: “Clean up your room.” Say, “Put your
socks in the basket and your dirty clothes in the hamper.” Make
your request doable and short. Instead of saying, “Be Good” say “When you are finished playing with the blocks, put them on the
Do not say anything against the child as a person or label
him. You need to accept him completely. That does not mean you
have to accept what he does. That is called separating the deed
from the doer. If he takes money from your purse, do not say,
“You are a thief and will never amount to anything. I am going to ground you for a month.” Say, “I know you took money from my
purse and I am very upset. If you need money, talk to me about
it, but add a consequence which fits the offense like having him
pay you back by giving up some allowance or doing work around the
In all interactions with children, it is important to use
“I” statements not “You” statements. “You” statements label,
place blame and stop communication. “I” statements on the other
hand tell how you feel and how the child’s behavior or
misbehavior affects you.
Try not to let your children lose heart. I hope we have
learned something since biblical days and are more responsive to
children. They do lose heart easily, especially when they feel
they are unable to please their parents and feel they are in
danger of losing their love. Tell them often that they are the
best thing that ever happened to you and you’ll love them
forever. If you do that, you may never have to nag again.