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The Nag Factor: How to Get Kids to Stop Nagging YOU

Posted May 31 2010 5:50pm

The Nag Factor: A strategy where a child continuously nags their parent to buy/do/get something, so eventually the parent will break down and buy/do/get it to make them stop nagging.

Cut-Parent-Losses: The cost benefit analysis a parent makes in their head to decide whether they should resist the nag factor or just break down and buy/do/get whatever the child wants.

While consulting with companies, I have heard many of them who consciously try to capitalize on the nag factor with their target audience.  For example, they use more benefits in commercials so kids can in return use these when nagging parents.

I have written a post on Kid Lawyers and wanted to explore in this post how parents can recognize and fight against the nag factor so they do not have to Cut-Parent-Losses.

The Age of Negotiation: 7 Ways to stop a Kid-Lawyer

1) Distinguish between needs, wants and worries

When your child/teen/tween/kid begins to nag you for something, you need to distinguish for yourself and for them if it is a need, want or worry.  Needs are important and should be addressed. Kids need to understand the difference A want is a non-essential activity or item.  This goes in the lower category.  I think parents also need to add in worries.   I was a worrier toastie, so I would nag my mom, “What time are we leaving? What time do we have to go to the airport? Are you sure you won’t forget my lunch?” These were borderline wants/needs, but mostly I was just worried.

2) Treat worries differently

If you have a worrier, this can often sound like nagging and drive you crazy!  If you are getting nagged about a worry, take your kid aside to a quiet place and tell them you understand and know they are worried, but they can count on you.

3) Write it down

I have found that often times kids think parents do not remember how important something is to them/something they want is.  Therefore, they nag you, or remind you about it because they think you forgot.  Try having a white board on the fridge and writing down whatever they are reminding/nagging you about…but be sure to distinguish between needs, wants and worries.  If you have it written down, next time your kid nags you, you can point to the fridge and say, write it down, I already know.

4) Address the emotional need

Sometimes kids will nag you about something they are worried about or there is an emotional need behind the nag.  Perhaps, they nag you about their lunch because they feel like they are made fun of in the cafeteria and need their comfort food. Address the emotional need and assure them they can depend on you and the nagging will stop.

5) Have them take part in the answer

Often times kids nag because they feel they have no part of the answer or solution. In this case they nag you to fix it and often times every step of the way.  Have them do part of the task or ask them to remind you again on a certain day and time.  “Remind me about the fruit snacks after school Thursday before I go to the market.”

6) Consequences for continued asking

Nagging is often treated like a bad joke, “I get it, I get it, you want the toy Barbie.” Or causes snapping, “I heard you! Stop asking.” The truth is, nagging is not polite.  When you are calm, address their concern, explain what you are (or aren’t doing about it) and tell them if they ask again there might be some consequences.

No one likes a nagger.  If we can stop the patterns early, it will help all of our relationships.


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