As the holidays are fast approaching I thought this may be a good read for you as you prepare to have your children home with you for the next couple of weeks!!!
Happy reading and have a lovey Easter with the family.
3 Simple Words to End Child Nagging and Negotiating
Have you ever met a more persistent creature than a child trying to get what she wants? I don’t know about you, but I haven’t. There is no one with greater resolve or dedication than a kid on a mission to get their parent’s approval.
Unfortunately, this level of persistence isn’t always well-received by parents who are often forced into these hostage negotiations at inopportune times – in the candy aisle of the grocery store, in the toy aisle of Target, in the middle of trying to cook dinner, while trying to take a shower. It’s as if children can see we are vulnerable and try to pounce in our moments of weakness.
While it’s important to teach children gratitude to combat the pleading in the stores, it’s equally important to stop the negotiations before they get out of hand. From the famed “Are we there yet?” to this morning’s “Can I have ice cream for breakfast?” to this afternoon’s “Can I have ice cream for dinner?” kids are notorious for their one-track minds, and they will ask…and ask…and ask…just in case you’ve changed your mind in the last minute.
Why do children nag?
As with any behaviour, you must first understand the root of the issue in order to address it appropriately.
Child nagging is a learned behaviour that children of any age can pick up. Children will continue to use it because once, in a moment of weakness, you caved and let them stay up an extra half hour after they asked for the eighth time. In short, the nagging worked – it achieved the child’s goal of getting an extended bedtime.
How can I stop my child from nagging?
Like any learned behaviour, child nagging can be unlearned.
It only takes three simple words: “Asked and Answered.”
The concept is simple. When seven-year-old Daniel begs to dig a giant hole in the front yard and gets “no” for an answer, chances are he’ll be back in five minutes asking again – this time with a “pleeeeeeaase” just so you know he really, really wants to dig the hole.
Instead of repeating yourself or jumping into a lecture, avoid child nagging by getting eye to eye and follow the process below:
Ask,“Have you ever heard of ‘Asked and Answered’?” (He’ll probably say no.)
Ask, “Did you ask me a question about digging a hole?”(He’ll say yes.)
Ask, “Did I answer it?” (He’ll probably say, “Yes, but, I really ….”)
Ask,“Do I look like the kind of mum/dad/teacher who will change her/his mind if you ask me the same thing over and over?” (Chances are Daniel will walk away, maybe with a frustrated grunt, and engage in something else.)
If Daniel asks again, simply say,“Asked and Answered.”(No other words are necessary!)
Once this technique has been established, these are the only words you need to say to address nagging questions.
Consistency is key! Once you decide to use “Asked and Answered” with your nagging child, be sure to stick to it. If the questioning continues even after you’ve responded with “Asked and Answered,” simply walk away. Once your child sees you won’t even engage in the discussion, they will learn very quickly that nagging isn’t an effective behavior to achieve their goals.
Parent as a Team
Make “Asked and Answered” a joint effort with your partner, and consider including any family or friends who may have to deal with child nagging and negotiating from your child. When Daniel realises they won’t get a “yes,” even after they’ve asked YOU five times, your parenting partner three times, and grandma twice, they’ll get the hint and retire this tactic.
Be sure all caregivers follow through and stay consistent – and before you know it, 20 questions will be a fun game once again, and no longer a negotiation tactic!
Lynn Lott, co-author of the Positive Discipline series of books