Episode 42 – Constantly nagging and repeating myself
“I feel like I’m constantly nagging my kids to do things. Hang up your jacket, put your clothes in the hamper, clear your plate, turn off the xbox and do your homework — It’s like I only have two channels: the “nagging, frustrated, annoying mom” channel and the “leave me alone, I just can’t deal anymore channel.” I am so tired of repeating myself, but it’s the only way to get them to do anything. I’m certain there is a THIRD channel, and it feels like everyone else has found it except for me. How can I get them to this magical place where they do what they are told without constantly nagging and repeating myself?”
Parent Education Answer:
This is BY FAR the most common complaint I hear from moms asking to join the Supermom is Getting Tired Facebook group. So you are certainly not alone in this dilemma. I’m sorry to say there is no magical place, but you are right in thinking there is a THIRD channel.
Why do so many moms hate repeating themselves? There is nothing inherently wrong with this act. We might say “I love you” every day and that doesn’t bother us. We repeat ourselves when we say “excuse me” “please” and “thank you”.
The reason it bothers moms to repeat themselves is because of the energy we are rooted in when we do it. It’s the same nagging, reminding energy that makes us not like ourselves. Our kids don’t want to be around us when we are acting this way, but neither do we.
When we nag, repeat, and remind, it’s coming from a place of defeat. It’s as if we’ve already lost.
The kids didn’t do their homework like they were supposed to, so we are rooted in failure. They failed, which means I failed. We repeat ourselves: “Stop goofing off and do your homework.” “Quit talking it’s time to focus.” “You are running out of time.” When you communicate from this energy, everyone feels like a loser.
Sometimes we are jumping the gun and assuming ahead of time that they will fail. “Don’t forget to feed the dog.” “Remember to brush your teeth before bed.” “You’ve got a big test tomorrow, you better take your book out.”
These future reminders PRESUME they won’t do it. You don’t trust them. When we communicate this way, we are subconsciously sending the message that they need you or they can’t do it on their own.
Kids like to feel capable and competent so they will either
Believe us, and not do things unless we remind them.
Reject us, ignore us, and rebel against us.
Nagging actually teaches kids to NOT listen.
The Third Channel: Because Nagging Isn’t Working
The “third channel” is the calm, confident channel. Believing your child WILL listen the first time, and following that up with action.
The moms that participated in my Confident Kid Challenge were also stuck in the ‘nagging to get anything done’ cycle. Listen to how they pulled themselves out:
Sara: Yesterday my daughter was reading a book and never heard me say (about a dozen times) that it was time to leave for piano lessons…so she got left at home. It took her 30 minutes to realize we’d left. She was a hot mess of emotion and “why didn’t you tell me! You could’ve shaken me to get my attention!” I wasn’t emotional about it, other than to express sincere empathy that it wasn’t fun leaving her and that we missed having her there. Today she’s come each and every time it’s been time to go somewhere.
Jontue: My kids were making a huge mess in the living room and were told if they made a mess they would have to clean it up (including vacuuming) themselves. Well, they continued to make a mess. Afterward they threw a fit and cried about having to clean it up. I wanted to take the vacuum from them and clean it up (faster and easier), but I let them struggle through it. It took them about 3 times as long as it should, but they did it. I also discovered that my kids can vacuum (who knew?).
How do you get out of the cycle of you nagging and reminding your kids?
- Allow them to experience negative emotions.
- Follow through on natural consequences.
- Allow them to struggle
- Let them make their own decisions.
That third channel you are looking for is calm, clear, and confident. You become rooted in the energy of trust, believing your child will learn lessons from this experience.
Popular career advice is to make yourself indispensable to your employer: work so that your company depends on your skills, talents and expertise.
With parenting, our job is to do the opposite. We need to make ourselves dispensable, non-essential. One step at a time we reduce our role in our child’s life. We learn to love more but do less and care less. The goal of parenting is to work ourselves out of a job, and into unconditional love.
Life Coaching Answer:
What gets in our way of doing these four things for the benefit of our kids?
WE DON’T WANT TO FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE.
Watching your child struggle or feel sad is HARD!
Somehow we got the mixed message in our culture that “doing everything right” is more important than raising independent adults. We want our kids to become more responsible without us having to do the hard work of watching them suffer and struggle.
Letting go of control is hard for many of us Supermoms, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.
I love the warm and fuzzy cuddles as much as anybody. I would be very happy if the whole world could live in blissful harmony. But when I see the research about how detrimental it is to the psychological well being of our kids to coddle and try to prevent them from having negative experiences, it motivates me.
It’s hard to feel happy while watching kids experience the negative consequences of their actions or inactions, but you can feel PROUD of yourself. We’re proud when we do things that are hard to do.
You can also feel compassionate and purposeful. These emotions can keep you in your calm, confident energy.
Supermom Kryptonite: Empathy Dials
Close your eyes and imagine two dials are in front of you. Both dials are labeled 1 – 10. The first dial has the word ME on it. Notice what number the dial is pointed to. The second dial has the word OTHERS on it. What number is this pointed to.
If your ME dial is turned way up, and your OTHER dial turned down, you are going to struggle to put yourself in other people’s shoes. It will be hard for you to feel compassion and understanding for what your kids might be experiencing.
You may find yourself frequently irritated and annoyed by your kids. They might say you are mean, that you don’t understand them and they try to avoid you. If so, see if you can turn your “ME” dial down, and your “OTHER” dial up inside your imagination.
If your OTHER dial is high and your ME dial is low, you will feel exhausted. It will be hard to hold your kids accountable and allow them to experience negative emotions. You may feel lost and overwhelmed with a whole lot of responsibility on your shoulders.
People might tell you that you are “too nice” and that you should “let go” more often. If I ask you how you are doing, and you tell me how your kids are doing, your “ME” dial is too low. In your mind’s eye, see how high you can get this dial to go up, and simultaneously turn down the “OTHER” dial.
Supermom Power Boost – Invisible problems require invisible solutions.
Just because we cannot see something does not mean the problem isn’t real. When a kid sees monsters under the bed, what helps her feel safe is “monster go away” spray that she keeps in a spray bottle near her bed.
“Over-empathy” is an invisible problem. Empathy is your ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
You can’t see how much empathy a mom has for the kids, but you sure can see the consequences of it: fatigue, overwhelm, a decrease in life satisfaction. Moms who have their “OTHER” dial up too high struggle to parent with calm confidence and to follow through with natural consequences. When you learn how to turn your ME dial up and your OTHER dial down, you reconnect with your dreams and desires. You get a break from responsible caretaker and start feeling ALIVE in your life again.
Sometimes we all we need to do is to learn to use our imagination to create what we want.
Quote: “As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.” Goethe