Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Nag, Nag, Go Away...

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“Do this.” “Do that.” “Hurry.” “Go.” As a mom, I had plenty of stuff to boss about. Borrowing from Larry the Cable Guy, I even threw in a few “Git-R-done now.”

I don’t know about you, but I was ready to stick a fork in it. I was done. Finished. No longer willing to be The Nag.

Untangling the nagging web, though, is easier to write about than do, but I’m offering you my example.

Addy and I sat down together. I told her I thought it was time for her to take on more responsibility, and explained that I would no longer repeatedly remind her of her “things-to-do” list. Let’s say Addy took it well if giddy can be construed as taking it well. This nagging thing hadn’t been working for her either.

I outlined the new plan.

“Each day after school we will discuss your schedule and the tasks (like homework, chores) that need to be finished by bedtime,” I said.

Then I explained that she’d have to map out the plan, which included estimating time of completion and targeting times to begin activities. “It will be your responsibility to finish all tasks before bedtime.”

To help her track time, I gave her a timer. “You can use your cell phone clock, if you’d prefer. I will give you only one reminder for each task.”

“What happens if I don’t finish everything by bedtime or forget something?”

“You will have a consequence.”

The consequence took me a little time to figure out. I had to pick something that mattered to her and didn’t put much of a burden on me.

I was fortunate to have recently listened to girls talk on this subject. One of them had been grounded for a week. She said, “Yep, I can’t get on the computer. Like I care. I don’t even like it very much.”

Thank you, girls, for the insight. Determined to find a consequence that packed a punch, I considered my options.

I immediately ruled out money. Addy doesn’t really care (at least at this stage in the game) if I take away her money or not. She once told me, “You buy me all the important stuff—like clothes and food—the rest is not a big deal to me.” Unfortunately for Addy, I was listening. Okay. Money was off the table. There was no punch.

Taking away her phone was not an option because it’s a safety issue for us.

I considered sending her to her room, but quickly crossed this off the list. She enjoys her room and loves to read and write.

The best consequence I could dole out was taking away computer time after school and on weekends. I could also take away the cell phone when she’s at home. I explained, “For each violation, you’ll have to stay off the computer for one day. Whenever you have a consequence, your cell phone will also be off limits when you are at home.”

“So we understand each other?”

“Yes, mom.”

Now that we’ve put our little plan in motion, I am surprised I didn’t think of this sooner. Besides taking me out of the nag business, it hands over more self-responsibility to Addy. The former felt more like begging and pleading (on my part) and opened the door wide open to back talk from a frustrated child.

It’s been a month since the Nag was put to rest. I’m happy. Addy’s happy. And so far I haven’t had to take away one day of computer or home cell phone time.

Allyn Evans
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