How I Stopped Nagging my Kid and She Behaved Better

How I Stopped Nagging my Kid and She Behaved Better

I was tired of giving constant reminders, and it turns they didn’t work, anyway.


By Lorraine Allen

“Brush your teeth!”

“Clear your plate!”

“Remember to feed the dog, please!”

“Put your shoes on! Let’s go!”

These were just some of the constant reminders I found myself dishing out to my first- and then second-grader, well before 8 am, every single day, from sunrise until she walked out the door to go to school. Never mind the reminders that came after school – when we were all worn out – about homework, packing her school bag, helping with dinner, brushing teeth (again). The list went on, and on, every waking hour of every day. It was exhausting, both for me (who felt like this was part of my job, as a mom, on top of everything else, in raising a healthy, clean, well-mannered, responsible child), and for my daughter—the person on the receiving end of this constant stream of adult demands and direction.

But at some point this past school year, it suddenly dawned on me that remind and nag as I may, it didn’t make a difference. “Every morning sort of feels like Groundhog Day,” I said to my husband, and he agreed. I was saying the same things, every. Single. Hour. And frankly, not only was it exhausting and exasperating for me to feel like I had to remind our child of everything she needed to do, all the time—it was also starting to feel ridiculous. Our kid is smart. She has, in this last school year, learned to perfect her handstands, memorized many lines and songs for a musical production, figured out how to make her own pancakes for breakfast, and memorized several multiplication tables. All without a single reminder, or direction, from me.

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Once I thought this through clearly, I decided to try a new approach: I bit my tongue, as much as I could (it took some time, and practice, honestly), and let my kid figure out what she needed to do, and when. And here’s the beauty of this story: Not only did all of our mornings and evenings become instantly less stressful and tense, but our daughter right away embraced her newfound freedom from my constant watch.

Now she spends the first five minutes of her mornings making her bed (which we’ve never asked her to do, for lack of time, before school). She brushes her hair and teeth first thing, before she even says good morning to us, and she always remembers, one way or another, to pack her homework on her own. Sometimes, in a panic, she can’t find a schoolbook at the last minute, but I just shrug and let her figure it out, which she does. She still never remembers to feed the dog or help with dinner, unless I ask her to, but that’s okay. Those are just two simple things I need to remind her of, and she’s only eight years old, after all. And when I do point these out, for the most part, she listens now, because I’m not asking too much. She’s thrilled at her new independence and autonomy, and has fully embraced it. And very happily, so have I.

What do you frequently have to remind your kids to do?


Lorraine is a parenting, health and food writer, and shares her family’s allergy-friendly recipes at MixPlayEat.com.

Image ©iStock.com/Weekend Images Inc.


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