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Nagging: The Ultimate Teen Complaint

Andrea Ramsay Speers - Thursday, February 21, 2013

I just read an interesting article about things that teens hate about their parents. One of the annoyances that kept popping up was the nagging that moms and dads pester their kids with.

But if I don't nag, how will anything get done? you may be asking. I think the question worth asking is, does the nagging help? My guess is that it hampers your relationship, gets both you and your teen worked up into a lather...and it still takes forever for the garbage to be taken out.

So what are the alternatives? I would suggest that you talk with your teen about responsibilities around the house -- and I mean have-a-conversation talk, not lecture talk -- and come to an agreement that you can both live with regarding these chores. And come to an agreement that includes what is sometimes called a "fail safe", which is a consequences that is agreed on by both of you as to what will happen if the previously agreement is not honored.

For example, you might agree with your teen that her room needs to be kept free of plates and food, and that emergency exits kept accessible. You might also agree that if plates and food are found festering in her space, then she is no longer permitted to eat in her room. Being included and treated as though they have something to contribute makes a real difference in getting your teens on board with you, and can keep that nagging from becoming so appealing. And should the "fail safe" need to be enacted? Do it without prolonged discussion, accusations, or recriminations. A simple, "I noticed some plates have been hanging out in your room for over a week; what should we do about it?" or "...now what?" or "...what did we agree would happen if plates didn't make it down to the dishwasher in a timely manner?" Don't harp, don't say I-told-you-so -- just follow through, kindly and firmly, with the consequence, and it will have much more meaning to your teen.

For a more in-depth discussion of how consequences, both natural and logical, work, check out Positive Discipline by Jane Nelsen.

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Andrea Ramsay Speers • Psychotherapist & Parent Coach • Oakville Family Institute • 175 Glenashton Dr., Oakville ON • Tel.: 905-491-6949

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