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Family Tips

Don’t Nag: Nurture To Develop Independence


I believe I can best explain this through an example. I recently had two families in my office, both struggling with twelve and thirteen year old children who appeared sad and withdrawn. In order to get them out of bed, parents were engaged in an hour long process of repeatedly nagging and pushing and prodding, ultimately leading to yelling and threatening the children. Often, parents were taking the children to school after they missed the bus.

Homework routines were even more depressing. Historically, these parents had reminded their children to get their homework done. When struggling, the parents would sit down, and spend hours with the children working through homework difficulties. Whenever the children would ask any question, the parent would sit down and then walk the child through finding an answer.

The mistake: Most parents believe that children will ?get it? at some point and start to do these things on their own.

The facts: Children don?t ?get it.? Parents must take a leadership role by modeling and demonstrating healthy behavior.

So if you want to create a dependent child who is ill prepared for the independence that comes with their teenage years, simply keep pushing and prodding, and keep nagging them to get their homework done and to get out of bed. As they get older, you?ll find that you are working harder and harder and they have become more and more difficult and dependent upon your efforts.

A good rule of thumb is this: If you find that you are working harder than they are for their success, then you are heading down the wrong path! Guaranteed!



You probably have a strong suspicion based upon the foregoing discussion. Yet there are five principles that you can apply to dramatically impact this process.

Principle 1: Have faith!

That?s right. The most important principle is to have faith in your child, and to have faith in the natural ability for children to learn from the consequences of their actions. Children are not stupid, and yet we often treat them that way, by repeatedly making the same request over and over.

If you have to repeat your request five and ten times, the problem is not a learning problem, the problem is a parenting problem. Children are simply not stupid.

Teaching kids that they need us to get through daily activities is like teaching them that they are handicapped in some learn to believe that they can?t do it on their own. Regardless of how many times you say it, they will not grow to believe you allow them to grow more dependent upon you as a parent.

So the first step is to have faith in your child?s ability to learn, and to allow them to have the opportunity to learn key life lessons on their own.

Principle 2: Your words rarely teach. Consequences teach.

Let?s think about this in a very simple way. If your words were effective at teaching children to get out of bed, then you wouldn?t have to yell and scream. You wouldn?t have to ask ten times. You wouldn?t have to end up doing this over and over.

Plan and simple: Your words won?t teach until the consequences reach their world.

And yet there?s an important caveat to remember here. With the right use of choices and consequences, your words begin to play a HUGE role in teaching. It?s just simply that you can?t teach a child to hit a baseball without getting on the field and learning from their mistakes. With that learning however, then the proper coaching can make a tremendous difference. Make sense??

So how do you use this principle? You use this principle by making certain that there is some form of consequence that is present with your request.

This discussion needs more detail, and yet the key concept here is simple and straightforward. Let the consequences teach, not your words.

Principle 3: Work then play! Everyday!

For those of you who read the homework newsletter series, I reviewed this concept in detail. The basic notion is this. Set your child?s world up in a manner that they must first get their work done (i.e., homework and responsibilities) and then they can play (i.e., have TV, video, computer, telephone, access to friends, soccer practice, movies, games with Mom and Dad, etc.).

In other words, simply set up a world where your child is not allowed to have access to all of the wonderful goodies you provide for them, until their ?work? is completed. Do this everyday, including Saturday and Sunday mornings. Just make it a fact of life. We do our work, and then we play.

Why is this so important? It?s important for two reasons. First, it …