Ways to avoid Nagging and the “I want, I want” Syndrome with Kids

A kid’s constant nagging can be very annoying and almost impossible to ignore, but giving in, like many parents eventually do, can have real financial consequences. Sometimes the nagging works simply because kids have more drive than their parents have patience. Other times, location matters—who hasn’t stood in a grocery store checkout line and heard a child pleading that he or she needs that chocolate? You may have been tempted to buy the sweetie and hand it to the kid yourself just to get some peace.

However, while giving in for a few Rand’s worth of sweets may seem small, you are paving the path to nagging for bigger and more expensive demands. The core of the problem is that we feel sorry for our children and we think we are “bad parents” if we don’t say yes to the kids. It is the wrong mindset to think that “Good parents work hard so that their kids don’t have to go without anything.”

Being “good parents” means that your children are provided for—love, shelter, food, clothing, education, values and your time. It also means teaching them financial responsibility. Giving in is financially harmful. Also, don’t fall for the “It’s not fair, it’s just not fair,” story. I know it’s a cliché, but life isn’t fair.

Three tips to help you avoid nagging:

1. Create a Shopping List

Get the kids into the proactive habit of having shopping become a dynamic process. Get them involved in making a list with you—as you finish the milk, write it down on the list. Remind them that you will only be buying the things you have put on the list. Then assign each kid an item (and the right size) that he or she will be responsible for remembering it and spotting it in the store. Make it very clear that you won’t be adding any other items to the cart.

2. Make “Quick Cash” Part of Their Allowance

As part your allowance system, teach that a set portion of each week’s allowance should be put aside specifically for Quick Cash—also known as instant-gratification spending. When your kids starts to nag for some impulse purchase, and it’s something that is OK for them to have, ask them if they can afford it, because they have to pay for it themselves out of their Quick Cash.

Remind them that they don’t get any more Quick Cash until their next “payday,” and don’t be surprised if you hear, “I have to pay for that myself? Never mind, I guess I don’t want it that much”. Your job is to remind your kids to take their Quick Cash with them when you go out. Put the money in a plastic bag and find some room in your purse or your child’s backpack.

3. Just Say No

No is a perfectly acceptable word. We don’t need a scientific study to tell us that kids are experts in the art of nagging, and that giving in is a quick fix to keep them quiet—until next time. You have to say no, and you have to mean it. Be brave enough to weather an embarrassing scene and strong enough to resist an Oscar-worthy performance. An important lesson will be learned. Consistency is also key. If your children know that no really means no, they won’t be as tempted to nag, as they will know their efforts just won’t work.

You’ve heard tales of children who will obey their nanny but not their parents? The very same children? That’s a direct effect of the power of your no.

And remember, children will nag—it’s in their nature. We parents feel bad not giving in, and that’s in our nature. I’m sure we all wanted our parents to give in to our requests when we were younger too, but take comfort in the fact that, difficult as it may be, you have the foresight of your children in mind; they don’t. And their future selves will thank you.

Source: Neale Godfrey