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NAGGING is probably a perennial universal “ritual” practised by parents for generations. It’s probably written somewhere that you must nag your kids at least once a day. How else would you explain the amount of nagging that goes on? If we put the words together, we probably can circle them around the world a few times over.

Yet, no one likes to be nagged. I bet that you hate it too. I know I do. I end up shutting down when I foresee a nag coming. I also start to put up a strong shield around me.

As you can see, it’s a futile exercise if your aim is to change things. What’s worse, it only ends up creating a tense and negative atmosphere which can again lead to ill feelings, resentment and anger.

For such a situation, a better strategy to ensure that parents use respectful language and avoid hurting their kids is by focusing on the action or behaviour, not the person.

I understand that in the heat of the moment, it’s so easy to forget that we are actually upset with the action (or lack off) and not with the person whom we love.

Mastering such a skill and realisation requires a lot of patience, a cool head and much practice.


For example, let’s say your child broke a glass while in the kitchen. Nagging would sound like this: “My God! Why are you so clumsy?” Focusing on action however, would sound like this: “My dear, please be careful next time. You could have injured yourself.”

Another example is when your child ignores your call. Nagging would sound like this: “You’re so rude. Didn’t you hear what I said?” Such words are not going to make things better. Instead, we should say: “My dear, I get upset when you ignore me like that. Can we agree that you’ll answer my calls no matter what?”

Labelling, criticising and nagging are usually associated with harsh words which are certain to hurt someone’s feelings. And we’re talking about an innocent, tender, young life here. Hurt feelings will lead to anger and resentment. Some of the hurt can even last a lifetime. No amount of apology can undo the damage. This isn’t a conducive environment for building a happy home or for bringing up brighter kids.

Therefore it is extremely important that we learn to control our own emotions when dealing with potentially damaging situations. Always remember to focus on the action, not the person. Keep this in mind, practise it and then practise it again till you perfect it.

Not only will it make you feel better, it will also make your kids more responsive and unlikely to repeat the same mistake again and again. It also maintains the positive relationship no matter how unpleasant the situation may be.

Zaid Mohamad coaches and trains parents to experience happier homes and more productive work places. Reach him at [email protected].

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