Dear Kid Whisperer,
I have a nagging five-year-old who won’t take “no” for an answer. I have done my best to turn off my brain and repeat the same line over and over, but I think it’s time for a consequence since he keeps nagging me and won’t stop. I’m just not sure what the consequence should be. Any suggestions? -Courtney, Solon, Ohio
Great work using excellent interventions, and great work realizing that if the interventions don’t get you what you want (a kid who doesn’t nag at you all day long) you should proceed to consequences. No amount of words will teach a difficult kid a lesson. Only actions can do that.
Keep in mind also, that your sanity comes first. Especially during the COVID-19 shut down, please ignore all advice that tells you to grin and bear behaviors from your kid that drive you crazy. Put yourself first: you can’t take care of your kid if you have gone off screaming into the night.
Behavior Drives You Crazy = Behavior Must Stop
First, here’s how I would get myself out of a nagging situation while letting my kid know that I will be taking care of the situation later.
Kid: Me thinks your rules are what we youngsters call “whack.”
Kid Whisperer: (while rubbing his eyes with his thumb and index finger) Duuude…… this stresses me out. I am just going to deal with this later. Dude. Geez. Don’t let it ruin your day. I’m going to hide in the bedroom and question my life choices for a bit. Duuude… Kid Whisperer staggers into his bedroom, shuts the door, lies down and thinks about traveling throughout South America, single, childless, maybe owning a motorcycle and having a pet monkey…
Three hours later…
Kid Whisperer: Duuude. (while rubbing his eyes again) When I tell you something and you don’t take “no” for an answer, when you keep talking into my ear complaining or asking a question that has already been answered, it stresses me out. I’m still stressed, so I’m going to give you the chance to take my stress away. I was too stressed to sweep the deck, patio, and sidewalk this afternoon. Instead, I was in my room looking up scenic Colombian highways on the Internet. I’m just going to have you sweep in order to take my stress away. The broom is waiting for you on the deck.
Kid: Not fair! I’m just a little kid! What’s a Columbian!?!?
Kid Whisperer: Dude. Feel free to get this done to my satisfaction any time before it’s time for bed tonight. Otherwise I will take ten dollars from your piggy bank to pay your sister to take away my stress.
No matter what Kid decides, you have a consequence in place that will make it less likely that Kid will keep on a-nagging after you enforce a rule or make a decision. He may test and keep nagging, but if you have this learning opportunity each time, and delay it, while being calm and empathetic, he will stop.
In addition, all of your interventions will be supercharged if he knows that a learning opportunity is coming up if he doesn’t cease and desist with the nagging.
Finally, I’ve given you an extra gift if you do this as instructed: the next time Kid opens his mouth to nag, immediately get really stressed and tired looking, and rub your eyes. Kid is very likely to connect this brand-new intervention to the consequence and stop. Now just acting tired can get the behavior you want so you can keep your sanity. Remember, if you can do this during these stressful times, you will always be able to do it!