Is Your Child a Nag? How This Trait Can Lead to Success in Life
By Laura St. John, TLC
If you have more than one kid, you quickly realize they are born different from one another. And I don't just mean boy-versus-girl different. I mean that the nature vs. nurture thing for me went right out the window as early as when my kids were in utero: My first child was way more laid back and easygoing, whereas my second child was a mover and a shaker (and an extreme kicker -- ouch). We're still figuring out our third.
Well, six years later that little mover and shaker is still just that. Simply put -- he doesn't like to take no for an answer. His nagging is persistent. He digs into every excuse in the book to try to get his way. Take tonight for an example:
Will: Mom, can I play a computer game?
Me: Honey, you can play one tomorrow morning. Now it's time for a bedtime snack.
Will: But mom, I'm not really hungry, and I didn't get to finish the other day.
Me: Oh honey, I wish you could, but it's time to start winding down for bedtime.
Will: But mom, I will play my math games for school. Now can I?
Me: Oh, that's great, but we'll have to do it tomorrow.
Will: But maaaaaaa, it's math. It's learning. I will be learning. You don't want me to learn? Now can I?
Me: Not right now; do you want cereal or crackers for bedtime snack?
Will: How about my reading game, mom? It's not even a game -- it's reading. Now can I?
Me: We are going to read our books upstairs after your snack.
Will: But maaaa, it's still a book. It's just on the computer. It's the same thing.
He has a point there, and he usually comes back with quick, savvy answers like this that it does make me wonder if I'm choosing the right thing. But if I don't hold my ground, it just opens that door for even more nagging the next time.
Bite Your Tongue: Why This Trait Is Good For Your Child's Future
As much as I want to snap and just yell "No!!!" at him, I bite my tongue for a number of reasons. First, he is the type of kid that would just move into a power struggle (I mean major meltdown zone) and I don't want that kind of relationship with my sons. But even more importantly, I want him to use this nagging trait to his advantage someday. So here's how I see this potential negative as a potential positive:
When you are the type of person to never takes "no" for an answer, you are a natural born salesperson. I don't want to squash that in him now, when he's six. As much as I want him to respect authority, I don't want to shut off the switch that ignites his passion that makes him go after whatever he wants. Being an entrepreneur for many years, I know firsthand that some of the best business endeavors have happened because I've persisted, sometimes over a series of years, until I got a yes. I guess I'm the same way -- I like to get what I want, and try to figure out a way to get it.
Another reason I bite my tongue is because I don't want him to be a pushover. There's a confidence that comes out when a kid gets what he wants. Years from now, when peers pressure him to try drinking, drugs, or just follow them to do all the stupid things kids do, I know he'll stand his ground. He'll use the same determination and persistence to not go with anyone else's flow. Just as he likes to get his way, he also likes to hold his ground. Those traits usually go together. In addition to this willpower, we will try to foster him to make smart decisions. But that's another article.
Interestingly, when I look back six years ago, my son defied all odds when he was nearly born stillborn because he had a true knot in his umbilical cord. When he was small enough in my belly, he had swam through the cord (with all his moving and shaking) and into a figure eight -- and tied a real knot that was blocking a lot of the oxygen and nutrients he needed to survive. Now if he was not the go-getter in life that he was even then, he'd probably not be alive today. I often wonder if he got this trait because he had to survive in utero, or if he just survived in utero because he already had this inborn trait. But that's back to the nature vs. nurture debate.
One thing's for sure: with the willpower that our little Will has, we definitely chose the right name. And I know in my heart that he will do something very great with it someday.
Do you have a nagger? How do you handle it? Do you see how this trait could be beneficial in life?
Photo: "Will Power" by Laura St. John