Why Nagging Would not Work, Particularly for Youngsters with ADHD
Nagging doesn’t work – it tends to backfire
It is a common misconception in the ADHD world that nagging is the “ONLY WAY” to get your children (or your spouse) to do something.
In fact, nagging not only doesn’t work, it’s counterproductive. Even if things still don’t get done, nagging damages relationships, undermines credibility, and creates resentment. Seriously – it’s just bad for everyone.
It creates resentment in complainers: “Why does it always have to be my responsibility?”
For the annoyed, it undermines any sense of achievement and perpetuates a self of failure. “Why should I bother? She will just remind me ”or“ She will just say that I got it wrong anyway ”.
But what should a person do if their spouse or child doesn’t keep their bargain?
Actually, there is no quick fix to this dilemma. It takes time to unlearn negative behavior patterns and learn new ones again. But the basic first step is to get on the same page.
Come to the same page
Clear communication in advance makes all the difference. Nagging is unnecessary if both parties:
For example, before going out, I asked my teenage son to empty and load the dishwasher. I told him I wanted it to be done that night before I got home. We talked about when I expected to be home and thought about how he could remember it so he wouldn’t forget. If he had made it, Saturday nights would be home alone more (a benefit for a 13 year old boy) and he could sleep the next morning. If not, he would lose his cell phone for the next 3 days. There was no shouting or shouting although there was some negotiation (I started with 5 days without a phone). At the end of the conversation it was clear to him what I wanted and by when; and I knew that he had accepted the request as his responsibility.
Now, you don’t have to go through all of the above steps every time to replace nagging with helpful reminders. If your child “owns” their belongings, they may actually want help to hold themselves accountable. For example, my daughter tended to refrain from doing homework time. She knows and so do I. So we have a deal. Occasionally I had her permission to check in with her. “Hey, are you on duty?” It doesn’t nag her about her ADHD, it reminds her of it – and it’s part of YOUR structure that helps her stick with the task (not her only structure). If she’s on duty, she’ll tell me. I have the chance to say: “Great work!” And you will feel your success. If not, she’ll say something like, “Oh, I’ve been distracted. Thank you mum!”
NO – I’m not kidding – it is possible. She really thanks me. But it is only possible because their desire to stick with it and get the job done is YOU, not mine. I’m helping her live up to her responsibilities instead of asking her to do this as a kind of favor for me. Reminders can be helpful, but must be agreed by mutual agreement.
But nag? While it may solve your short-term need to “get it out,” nagging doesn’t work to actually get results. Just focusing on the task at hand, without cultivating the relationship and promoting independence, leaves everyone disappointed. And that’s what happens when you nag, especially with ADHD children.
So the next time you feel the urge to nag, act with the best of intent, set realistic expectations, and communicate as clearly as possible!