From Nagging to Noticing

Contributed by Melanie Miller, M.Ed.

Ever feel like the nagging parent…? “Why is your backpack still in the hallway?” “Can’t you ever learn to put your dishes in the dishwasher?” “Did you put your bike away?” “How many times do I have tell you…?” “If you make me say it one more time….” And on and on and on!

I’ve heard that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Nagging reminds me of insanity. We keep repeating ourselves thinking that this time he/she will get it, they’ll finally do what I want them to do! Perhaps if we could listen to ourselves or make a quick video, we might see and hear insanity in action. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results doesn’t get us anywhere and it doesn’t help the relationships we have with our children.

The next time you’re frustrated with what your child hasn’t done, take a deep breath, or two or three, and begin your sentence with “I notice”.

I notice that your backpack is still in the hallway and someone might trip on it.
I notice your bike is still outside and it’s starting to get dark.
I notice your dirty dishes all over the counter and I need the space to start making dinner.

Simply observing what has happened shows faith in your child’s ability to figure out what needs to be done. It also takes the overpowering, lid flipping, and confrontation making emotion out of our interactions with our children. It gives them the space to think for themselves, engage their brain and once again figure out what needs to be done. And, it just sounds so much more respectful, which leads to healthier relationships.

For more “quick tools” consider getting Positive Discipline Parenting Tools, by Jane Nelsen and Adrian Garsia. They are available in English OR Spanish as a deck of cards or a phone app.

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