Is Nagging or Lecturing Damaging Your Relationship With Your Teen?

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Mother nagging to her daughter

"Dear mom and dad. You were also teens once. So please let me enjoy my teen years & stop nagging. Sincerely, Every Teen."—Anonymous

Are you a parent who feels the need to repeat yourself over and over and over again to no avail? I understand because, once upon a time, I used to do the same thing with my children. In fact, when I got annoyed with repeating myself, I would yell as if my children didn't hear me the first time. By the way, there was nothing wrong with my children's hearing. They were just as annoyed as I was with hearing me repeat myself.

Teens will avoid you like the plague if every conversation is a lecture. Parents, your teens don't want to hear why they didn't do this or how they didn't do that repeatedly. When teens feel lectured, they only hear the negative things, if they are even listening. When teens feel preached to, they only hear criticism about something they have done; beyond that, nothing else is heard.

According to Wired, when mothers criticize their teens, teens experience a strong negative reaction to what is said. Teens' adverse reaction doesn't just go away when the lecture has subsided, so imagine all the lectures and feelings of criticism that can build up over time. How often have you heard your teen say, "she always has something to say." I have heard this countless times, especially from teen girls. Nagging hurts or damages your relationship with your daughter. The relationship becomes brittle because both mother and daughter feel frustrated, angry, annoyed, and disrespected. Teen girls, in addition, may feel not enough, unimportant, inadequate, and picked on. Moms may also feel unheard.

Exercise: Moms, ask yourself, what is your nagging REALLY about? You might discover that it is more about you than what your teen daughter is doing or not doing. Carve out 10-15 minutes to journal about this.

If your tactics are pushing away and not drawing your teen daughter in, it is not working. Ask yourself, why is it not working? When you are nagging your teen, it feels like you are choosing to focus on the negative. Nagging is an ineffective way of communicating with your teen because it is unpleasant. Dr. Robert Myers, a clinical psychologist, warns that nagging weakens the parent-child bond. The more you nag, the less they are listening.

Teens want to feel like they have control over their lives. When teens feel nagged, several emotions surface—criticism, harassment, badgering, inadequacy, irresponsible, non-trustworthiness, or you're not enough. Think about your goal in this situation. Is it to teach your teen to obey you, do as you say, or learn how to problem solve and motivate themselves on their own? Nagging is not going to make your teen do whatever you're asking. Moms need to have clear consequences in place if their teen doesn't complete the task at hand. Communicate the consequences to your teen and the time frame she has to complete it. Then, have your teen repeat back what she heard so that you can clear up any miscommunication. Moms, at that point, you can literally pass the teen the ball or symbolically pass the ball. Whichever way, the ball is in her court. If the ball is dropped, be ready to administer the said consequences.

James 1:19 says, my dear brothers and sisters, everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.

Negative communication is a common cause of conflict between moms and teen daughters.

According to the Oxford dictionary, during a Google search, the verb nag means to annoy or to irritate with persistent fault-finding or continuous urging. Merriam-Webster says this nagging is to annoy someone by often complaining about their behavior, appearance, etc., to annoy with repeated questions, requests, and orders, or to cause someone to feel annoyed or worried for an extended time.

Nagging teens will inspire rebelliousness. Teens who feel inadequate when nagged will try to isolate themselves to avoid any conversations. I remember a time when I was counseling a mother and her daughter. In the beginning, many of the mom's complaints were about how nasty she thought her daughter's room was and her frustration with repeatedly telling her to clean her room. The daughter was asked, "what is keeping you from cleaning your room?" She said that "she forgets or hasn't had the time." However, she walked into her room every day in the same state that she was getting yelled at. I thought to myself; there was no way she forgot the very thing she was being nagged for whenever she stepped foot into her room. She was to the point of tuning her mother out because this was a common theme in their home. I've had so many cases with this exact scenario. Mom did her best to teach through nagging and lecturing, but it was highly ineffective.

My husband and I are guilty of nagging and lecturing. We would always start the conversation with "when we were growing up, blah, blah, blah." Our eldest son would be irritated and say, "you always telling us how things were when you were growing up." At the time, I thought I was trying to teach him something and didn't realize that he was annoyed because what I was saying was internally making him feel a certain way. That was one of the ways we talked "at" our son versus having a conversation with him. Conversations often don't occur with our teens for underlining reasons such as not wanting to come off as soft, so we tend to exert power or control. At other times, parents get caught up in "I am the parent, and she is the child" syndrome. Again, another form of exerting authority.

If you don't remember anything else, remember this quote, "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."—Einstein. It is time to engage with your teen differently. How you respond to your teen is golden. Remember, teens want to be heard, and the best way to do that is to repeat their feelings. Sometimes, she might not come out and say how she feels, so you will have to listen and say it sounds like you might be upset, overwhelmed, annoyed, or confused.

Here is a list of things to try:

~Using open-ended questions forces them to respond in depth because it is not a "yes or no" type of question. Open-ended questions start with who, what, why, where, or how. Closed-ended questions start with did, do, are, or have.

~In a situation, you might need to respond to your teen by saying, "I need to think about that before I answer," or "I'm not sure, but I'll find out and circle back with you," or "I don't know." "Can we talk about it later?" This will allow you to think things through before snarking at your teen.

~Remind your teen once to complete a task and leave it alone. If they don't complete the task, let there be a consequence. The key is you must discuss this with your teen first so they don't feel sucker-punched when the consequence is enforced. You must do what you said you would do if the task is incomplete, and you have to be consistent.

Please try these suggestions to reduce the need to nag or lecture your teen. We would love to hear how these results helped you with nagging or lecturing your teen.

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