If you’re like most parents of teens, then you’re always looking for a better way to make your teenager more responsible. But sometimes, it seems like they just don’t hear you. What gives?
Enter: the nag.
You recognize her…shrill voice, pursed lips, crossed arms. The nag intends to get her teen moving, but she fails to see the distance the carping puts between her and her teen.
Nagging doesn’t work.
Last month, I tried an anti-nagging experiment. Initially, my goal was to run the experiment for two weeks. After the two weeks were up, I decided this would be our family’s new normal.
There’s good news! You, too, can stop nagging your teenager by following the 3-step method outlined below.
What is nagging?
Nagging (of a person) is constantly harassing someone to do something.
You feel overwhelmed because you can’t get your teenager to do X (insert: brush their teeth, do their homework, finish their chores, etc.).
Your teen’s sense of who they are rapidly changing, and your simple questions are heard as nagging. What your teenager hears is different from what you actually say.
You say, “Did you take out the trash?”
They hear, “I don’t trust you.”
So, how do you stop nagging your teenager? Read on.
How to stop nagging your teenager: The 3-step method to banishing the nag forever
step 1: create your list of expectations and rules, and write them down.
The first step is simple. You must create a set of hard and fast rules for your teenager. Your guidelines for behavior ought to include all of your weekly expectations. Write them down!
If you want your teen to finish their homework by 9 PM on school nights, then include that as one of your rules.
Now, many people skip this step. I admit it’s tedious, but don’t omit it!
Here are the rules I created for my teenagers at the start of my two-week experiment:
I omitted hygiene-related tasks from my list, like brushing teeth, because I won’t give any wiggle room there. The health repercussions of not caring for your body can have lifelong implications.
Once you’ve completed this step, move on to step two…
step 2: jot down a list of the consequences for your teenager if they fail to meet your expectations.
Let me share 3 tips for making this step go more smoothly:
Tip 1: Use natural consequences if you can. A natural consequence is one that automatically results from a person’s action. Natural consequences can be powerful teachers. It’s ok not to rescue your teen all of the time.
Example: If your teenager gets a speeding ticket, the consequence is they must earn the money to pay for the ticket.
Tip 2: Make your consequences logical when they relate to the misbehavior. Logical consequences are different from natural consequences in that they require the intervention of an adult.
Example: If your teenager gets caught driving without a seatbelt, they lose access to their car for a week.
Trust is an imperative part of the relationship between parents and their teenagers. If you act as though your teen isn’t trustworthy, then there is no reason for them to act responsibly.
Tip 3: Decide which behaviors you are willing to ignore, like eye rolls or sighs. Resist the temptation to argue. Set your limits and follow through!
Examples of logical consequences: extra chores, loss of privileges, and acts of restitution.
Here are the consequences I created for my teenagers based on the list of rules and expectations I outlined above:
The goal of consequences is to teach a lesson. Learning from one’s mistakes is often the best way to improve and grow.
Once you’ve completed this step, move on to the last one.
step 3: call a family meeting, explain your rules and consequences to your teenagers, and share with them how you want to stop nagging them.
For this step, you need to call a family meeting.
One word of warning: Your teenagers may fight you on your new rules. Don’t take the bait! Stick with it.
Here are some dos and don’ts for your meeting:
DO talk about nagging with your teenagers. Tell them how much you dislike nagging them and how you want to give them more freedom and independence to do the right things.
DO explain how this is a give-and-take situation. If your teenager does what is asked of them, the nagging ceases. If they habitually neglect their responsibilities, there will be consequences. You’ve shown them your printed copies of your rules, expectations, and consequences. Now, there are no excuses.
DON’T give in to badgering or arguments.
You might also like: Want to Set Better Rules for Your Tween: Here’s How.
The effects of Constant Nagging
Nagging is the least effective way to motivate teenagers to comply with your rules and expectations. More than that, it can blow up in your face and send negative messages or spur rebellious behavior.
Learning how to nag less and communicate better fosters more peace and respect in the home.
results of my two-week nagging experiment
I spent two weeks observing my teenagers. While I had to remind 2 of my 4 children to brush their teeth and wear their retainers, the experiment was a success.
- 1 child lost his weekly allowance for not completing all of his chores by the end of the academic week.
- All 4 children submitted homework on time.
- 2 lunchboxes were not emptied in a timely manner. I instructed those children to pack their own lunches or use their own cash to purchase school lunches the following day.
While it was tempting for me to nag over the chores, I resisted being a perfectionist and gave them some space. After all, the goal was to learn how to stop nagging my teens.
You might also like: Teach Your Teen Personal Responsibility.
FAQs about nagging
How do you deal with a defiant and disrespectful teenager?
There are a few things that you can do to try and deal with a defiant and disrespectful teenager. The most important thing is to stay calm and positive, even when you feel like yelling.
Try to set rules and limits for your teen, and be consistent with how you enforce them.
Make sure that they know that you love them, no matter what, and be prepared to listen to their side of the story.
Finally, please don’t give up on them! Teens often push boundaries because they’re testing how far they can go – but they still need their parent’s guidance and support.
If you’re struggling to deal with a defiant teenager, many resources are available to help you. Books, websites, and even hotlines can offer advice and support. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help if you’re feeling overwhelmed!
How do I give my teenager a sense of control?
One way to give your teenager a sense of control is to stop nagging them. Nagging only makes them feel like you don’t trust them and doesn’t motivate them to do anything. Instead, try setting clear expectations and limits, and then follow through with consequences if they don’t meet your expectations.
Examples of clear expectations and limits a parent can give their teen: include establishing rules about curfew, communication, and behavior. Parents can also set limits on how much money the teen can spend and what types of activities they are allowed to participate in.
Having clear expectations and limits helps teens feel safe and secure, allowing them to focus on developing into adults.
You can also give them opportunities to make decisions and take on responsibility, such as letting them choose what they want to wear or eat for dinner.
Finally, listen to their concerns and try to understand their perspective.
Doing these things will show your teenager that you respect and value them, which will help encourage them to behave responsibly.
How do you stop a controlling teenager?
It can be challenging when you feel your teenager spiraling out of control. You might feel helpless, frustrated, and unsure of what to do. But it’s important to remember that you’re not alone – there are steps you can take to help your teenager get back on track. Here are a few things you can do to help an out-of-control teenager:
- First, sit down with your teenager and have a calm, honest conversation about what’s happening. It’s essential to listen to your teenager and try to understand their perspective.
- Next, help your teenager set some goals. Having something to work towards can give them a sense of purpose and motivation.
- Then, create a support system for your teenager. A support system could involve family members, friends, teachers, or mentors. These people can offer guidance and advice during this difficult time.
- Finally, encourage your teenager to seek professional help if they struggle with mental health issues or addiction. Getting counseling or therapy can be incredibly helpful for teenagers in crisis.
If you’re dealing with an out-of-control teenager, know some people can help. By following these tips, you can start to get your teenager back on track.
How do I stop being a nagging mother?
It’s so easy to fall into the habit of nagging your kids. You want them to be their best selves and follow all the rules, so you constantly remind them to brush their teeth and do their homework. But all that nagging can have the opposite effect. It can make your kids tune you out, rebel against you, or even resent you. So how can you break the habit?
First, try to be more specific with your requests. Instead of saying “brush your teeth,” say, “Please brush your teeth now.” This way, your child knows what you want them to do and when you want them to do it.
Second, try giving simple choices instead of issuing commands. For example, instead of saying, “Do your homework,” say, “Do you want to do your homework now or in half an hour?” Offering choices gives your child a sense of control and makes them more likely to comply with your request.
Third, try to avoid nagging altogether whenever possible. If a chore needs to be done every day, like taking out the trash, see if you can create a system where your child does it without being reminded. For example, you could put a Post-It note on the trash can with the words “Trash goes out Tuesday nights.”
Following these tips won’t eliminate nagging entirely. But it should help you reduce the amount of nagging you do, making life more pleasant for everyone in your family.
So there you have it – a quick and easy 3-step process for how to stop nagging your teenager.
Let’s recap the steps:
Step 1: Create your list of rules and expectations, and write them down.
Step 2: Jot down a list of the consequences for your teenager in the event they fail to meet your list of expectations.
Step 3: Hold a family meeting, explain your rules, and start your anti-nagging campaign.
Now there is just one thing left to do. Take action! Go ahead and start your own anti-nagging experiment. Do it today because the sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll banish the nag forever.
I agree nagging doesn’t work (even on pre-teens!). I find the team approach works well, as in I am appealing to you as my team mate and I can’t do it without you. For now it works… when my kids are full fledged teens, it might change. 😉
I love the concept of a team approach! You should write a blog post on that 🙂
This is some really helpful information. I appreciate this post as I am headed into this territory soon. I always thought of myself as cool, but my children will tell you different. Now, I just want them to listen and follow rules while growing into productive adults.
Our kids don’t know how cool we are just yet. They’ll get it when they’re grown 🙂
These are great tips and also super practical!
Thank you for reading!
Great tips on how to not nag your teen! My daughter is 10 and I am soaking up all the info I can in preparation for the teen years!
Ahh. 10 is such a sweet age! I’m glad you found these tips helpful 🙂