Are you guilty of nagging your teen?
Most parents do! But just how effective is it really?
You hear yourself yelling: “How many more times do I have to tell you to clean your room? It’s a pig sty. I don’t know how you live in it. It’s no wonder you can’t find anything …”
Or perhaps it sounds more like this: “Did you remember to put your dirty laundry in the basket? It won’t get done spread all over your bedroom floor. There’s no magic fairy around here. All I ask you to do is the simple task of putting your school uniform in the laundry basket and it’s just too hard …”
Or this: “Why do you always have to put on that shirt with the button missing? You have at least three others and you just have to wear that one. What’s wrong with you. I tell you over and over and you refuse to do anything to help in this family … ”
Let’s not start on trying to get a teenager out of bed In the morning – or, into bed at night!
And so it goes, day after day after day, everyone getting upset and frustrated – and your teen seemingly selectively deaf to your requests, demands, reminders, yes, let’s face it … nagging.
If nagging our teens worked, we would all have wonderfully cooperative and well behaved young people.
Unfortunately, numerous family disagreements stem from parental nagging – according to research, it’s the cause of around 50% of arguments with teenagers.
But to be fair, the motivation to nag is benign, and it is difficult to see that a few reminders can be of any harm. After all, we feel we need to teach our adolescents about housework, and life lessons such as cooperation, don’t we? Our patience is sorely tried as our teens show little appreciation for what we do for them, and it is all so frustrating!
So if we are so well meaning in our nagging, then why do our adolescents get so angry with us?
It’s not so much the nagging, but the message they are receiving behind the constant reminders. The loudest part of the nag is that teenagers feel we just don’t trust them. They take it as a low blow, because it rocks their already low self confidence.
Adolescence is a period plagued by self doubt as well as all the other physical and psychological changes going on. It’s a period of dramatic change, growth and challenges, and teenagers, in spite of their seemingly confident exterior, have difficulty trusting themselves.
Nagging: a Vicious Cycle
Consequently, it is not surprising that our teens respond to our nagging by sullenly withdrawing into their bedrooms or attacking and arguing, and rarely compliance with the intent of the nag.
Parents too, feel angry, hurt and frustrated. It’s a vicious cycle all round.
The first step in resolving these family disputes is to stop nagging. Become aware of when you are nagging. Listen to how you are coming across. Accept it is not the solution. Decide whether the nagging is for your teenager’s good – or good for you!
For many of us, shifting gears from control over a small child who fits in with our expectations and is eager to please us, to acceptance of an adolescent nearing adulthood who is seeking self-identity and needing to make his or her own decisions, is a difficult transition.
This transition is made more difficult by the fact that parents just don’t give up authority easily, especially when their teenager is still financially dependent on them.
How to Quit Nagging
Fortunately, when you feel the urge to nag, there are a number of behaviours you can substitute for a more positive outcome that will also help to build an improved relationship with your teenager.
There are no ideal substitutes that all parents can adopt and what we do is different for everyone and for different situations. One parent, for example, whenever she wanted to nag, substituted the nag for a compliment.
One thing we can do, when we become aware of our expertise in nagging and the reasons for it, is to appreciate the side benefits of not nagging. Parents who stop nagging and use substitute behaviour almost always report reduced stress and positive consequences. Arguments drop significantly, and parents and teenagers learn to get along without the constant bickering.
Funnily enough, when parents stop nagging, their teenagers begin to do the tasks expected of them, like doing their homework, for example, or putting their dirty clothes in the laundry basket. Nagging just seems to provoke the undesired behaviour. Try using compliments instead!
If you would like to discuss your relationship with your teenager and improve ways of coping with their behaviour and attitude, or you are tired of the anger, frustration and bickering in your house, please feel really comfortable in making an appointment to see me. I will be most happy to chat with you about your personal situation and discuss some strategies that you can enjoy trying out.
Author: Dr Jan Philamon, PhD, BA (Hons) Psychology, C Teach, JP (Qual) Qld, MAPS.
As a registered teacher and psychologist, Dr Jan Philamon has a wealth of experience with children, however she enjoys helping individuals and couples at any stage of life. Jan aims to help people to be the best they can be and find success: improved wellbeing, gaining a sense of empowerment that allows them to actively problem solve and manage obstacles constructively, as well as positively plan and achieve their personal and career goals.
To make an appointment try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call M1 Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3067 9129