The truth is, nagging doesn’t work. Yes, you are right. You’re more experienced, more wise, and you want to save your children from making mistakes. Hold back. Children learn from their mistakes. Children grow by taking risks.
For instance, if your children try to market their used items, support them in their new business endeavor. If they are tending to the garage sale, and they start goofing off instead of watching shop, and someone steals their prized game station set, they have indeed learned a very valuable lesson. Perhaps you warned them to stay focused and deal with customers. However, you refused to jump in and take over. Instead, you gave them the room to run their shop, and they bombed. It’s hard to watch your children hurting, and it is tempting to make everything right for them. However, if they ever have a garage sale again, or open their own shop in the future, what are the chances they will bomb again with customers? Probably nil.
Your children hear your warnings, but your warnings are just that. They are words that go in and out of your children’s heads. Mostly out. If you warn your children that it looks like rain, and they refuse to take heed, they get wet. They get uncomfortable. In their minds they probably tell themselves, they will prepare for imminent weather next time.
If you remind your children to get their homework done, and they stall, you will find yourself reminding them every fifteen minutes. You are more concerned about their homework than they are. In fact, now you are nagging, and your children are becoming resistant. How about if you quieted down? How about if you let your children be responsible for themselves? Instead of nagging, give one warning. Tell your children, if the teacher calls home because of homework not done, there will be a consequence. Television cut short for instance, or outings with friends curtailed…. Stick with your consequences. Life gives people consequences. Prepare your children for life.
It is tempting to take over children’s responsibilities. Washing their clothes, for instance, when they are old enough to do it for themselves. You want to be a good parent, and help your children. The golden rule for building children’s self-esteem is this: Anything your children are capable of doing, let them do it for themselves. Instead of focusing on their responsibilities, focus on your own. Be a good role model for your children. Have an active, involved life. Show responsibility, show involvement with your community.
There are indeed times to comfort your children and be there for them. Children lose pets, friends, suffer betrayals, and have physical pain. Comfort them, be there. However, if your children need to learn from their mistakes, let them, as long as it does not endanger them. For instance, if your children get speeding tickets while they are borrowing your car, you have them pay the fine, and you take the car away. Your children have shown you they are too immature to drive, and this is one mistake you don’t let them learn any longer.
However, if your children are learning from non-threatening mistakes such as recklessness with homework, money, dress, chores, etc., do not guard them from these non-threatening tasks heading to consequences. However, never let your guard down entirely. Children need you to differentiate and realize when they do need help. Some mistakes can lead to disaster. For instance, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, eating disorders, and promiscuity are all potentially lethal. If your children are involved in any of these activities, your child doesn’t need warnings, threats, or pleas. Your child needs your help, and professional help, as well.
A good parent knows when it is time to step back and when it is time to step forward.