Did you eat breakfast?

Did you pee?

Are you brushing your teeth?

Wash your hands.

Where are your socks?

Did you pack a snack?

Get your coat.

Get in the car.

Buckle your seatbelt.

Don't forget your gloves.


These are things I did not say this morning.

I had a lot of extra time.

Why we nag

Nothing happens that is supposed to happen unless we make sure it happens. That's why we remind everyone. All the time.

Isn't it true?

If we don't nag, the world drifts into chaos. Children hit each other. Clutter piles up. Bills don't get paid. People forget to eat.

There is some truth here, but not for the reasons you think.

What happens when we nag

No one hears what we say when we nag--but you already knew that.

This is what people hear us say:

  • I don't trust you to do it.
  • I am taking responsibility for your stuff, even though it is not my job.
  • I am trying to control you by reminding you to do it.

Ugh, I just made myself sick.

Nagging creates slackers

Why bother to remember if someone else will? People get lazy because we teach them that their effort is a waste of time.

How to stop

The world will drift into chaos if you stop nagging without warning. You must first transfer responsibilities back to the rightful owners.

Tell your kids, “it's your job to get packed up for school. I'm not going to give you reminders tomorrow.”

Prepare the kids by discussing their routines. Offer ideas for alternative reminders. In my house, a cheap alarm clock sounds when it's time to get dressed. Be available for help, but only at times you agree upon.

Tell your spouse, “I'm going to get out of your way.” Then get out of the way.

Nag yourself instead

Keeping quiet is harder than it looks. Read your email, play with your cell phone, bite your tongue. But don't say a word.

It gets easier with practice. Enjoy the extra time. Experience the relief.

And remember what I said--don't say a word!

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