How You (Yes, You) Can Stop Nagging Your Kids

I am always on the lookout for ways to reduce the stress and overwhelm of mom life. Having a relaxed and well functioning home means less time wasted on arguments and unhappiness and more time getting things done and having fun.  That is why I am so excited to have come across Madeleine Davis. 

Having a relaxed and well functioning home means less time wasted on arguments and unhappiness and more time getting things done and having fun.  That is why I am so excited to have come across Madeleine Davis who provides strategies to stop the nagging. 

Madeleine is a Mom Motivator, Founder of The Parenting System and Creator of The Stress-Free Family. She specializes in helping moms create a well-FUNctioning, stress-free home you can feel good about raising your kids in so you can be the fun, relaxed mom you want to be.

I was lucky enough to spend some time chatting with Madeleine and picking her brain. I asked Madeleine if there was an easy way to stop feeling like you have to nag your kids to get them to do what you want them to do.  Madeleine explains it like this:

You know the old saying "You catch more bees with honey than with vinegar"? Moms often find themselves using "vinegar" instead of honey to get their little bees to do what they want. In this case, the vinegar is all of the negative tactics moms use that keep us out of control and getting sucked into the vinegar vortex! It starts with nagging, moves quickly to yelling, then empty threats, and finally punishing. All of this while our kids continue to ignore us

We want to get out of the Vinegar Vortex and into the neutral zone, where we can actually begin to change your child's behavior and get them to listen to us without nagging them. The following are four strategies provided by Madeleine that build upon each other and that you can start using right now to stop the nagging. How awesome is that?!

stop nagging your kids

Strategy #1: The 3 C's Method

  • Be Calm - this means keeping control of yourself and taking the drama out of the equation. Use a deep breath to interrupt the surge of emotions you may feel when you're being ignored. This will rewire your brain AND theirs.
  • Be Clear - tell your child exactly what you want them to do. Simply yelling "stop it!" is confusing. Rather calmly explain precisely what needs to happen now: "please stop jumping around and put away your shoes now." They need to know what to do and when.
  • Be Concise - children, especially small ones, need you to explain things to them in as few words as possible.

Strategy #2: The Robot

Robots deliver a message without emotion. So, if there's any push back or attempts to negotiate with you, just ignore it and use the same exact calm, clear, and concise words without any emotion, just like a robot to repeat what your child must do. Sometimes, you'll find these two strategies are enough by themselves, but sometimes bad habits are hard to break, and if so, you can build on these two strategies with a third:

stop nagging your kids

Strategy #3: Touch And Block

If your child is completely distracted, especially by TV or a toy, employ this method to get their attention focused on you. Touch their arm or shoulder. Once you've shifted their focus, use the robot and the 3 C methods to deliver your message. If you can't get eye contact just from touch, you may need to physically block whatever has your child's attention. Stand in front of the TV, or the video game.

Strategy #4: The Big Picture Tie-Up

This strategy ties your child's behavior to a relevant consequence. It paints the bigger picture for him or her. It might sound something like "Johnny, when you keep your shoes on inside, you track dirt in and now we're going to have to take time to sweep up the dirt." The consequence must be tied to the behavior, and not an empty threat.

You can see that using these four strategies that build on each other will gradually decrease the lack of expectations and the chance of you getting sucked into the Vinegar Vortex! 

Now on to the honey!!

Praise is a great form of honey, but there are some things to note. Praise should be limited to behaviors that are worthy of praise, not just any old task. You should praise the specific behavior that you are encouraging and not just give a general "nice job". A sprinkle of praise  will do the job, there is no need to over do it. In fact, too much praise can be detrimental.  Also, note that when you feel gratitude towards your child, thank them instead of using praise.  

Praise, encouragement and acknowledgment are all great forms of honey, but you need to use them effectively. To do this, Madeleine created a strategy called the TRIBE Method. This is strategy #5:

  • Time - Find ways to communicate in real time
  • Recognition - Show your recognition of good behavior
  • Importance - Explain the importance of the good behavior
  • Benefit - Emphasize how it benefits them
  • Encouragement - Give them encouragement to repeat the behavior in the future

Once this method is working consistently, you can begin to dial it back and just KISS - Keep It Simple, Sister. Of course, you’ll still be Calm, Clear and Concise with your honey but now you can enthusiastically Recognize or Encourage, without the other components.

Mix it up, too. Sometimes acknowledge, and sometimes recognize. You don’t have to get into the rest of it because once you see them doing the behavior consistently they’re showing you they understand how it's tied to the Bigger Picture and they’ve already decided to avoid the Relevant Consequence. You just want to keep them motivated to repeat the behavior by intermittently acknowledging and recognizing.


If you're ready now for a Stress-Free Family, schedule a call with Madeleine and she can answer any questions you have, get you going in the right direction so you too can have your own stress free family, Click the link to sign up!




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