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How Do I Check-In on my Kids Without Nagging?

Welcome to Tea & Tips, where we respond to burning questions from parents and educators — taking aim on one topic at a time, guiding you to improve communication, confidence and calm.

Diane:
So, the next question we want to address is how to stop nagging. How to establish check-ins with your kids, particularly around homework, without sounding like you're nagging all the time.

Elaine:
Don't you get tired of that?

Diane:
I do.

Elaine:
I so love that I'm not a nag anymore. All right. So, there's sort of two places to look at this. One is when you have a ... All of this is about relationship and communication. I mean, at the end of the day, 90% of it is about relationship.

Diane:
And, some of you really great relationships with your kids, and some of you have kids that aren't even talking to you.

Elaine:
Right, right. Where there's still a little more distance that you haven't bridged that gap.
So, how would you address those kids first?

Diane:
So, those kids first, I think it's about ... Part of it is just about changing your language. Particularly with older kids, you want to make sure that you're entering their space with permission. So, it's kind of like, "Hey, I want to figure out how to check in with you, and I know that's hard for you. When can we talk about this?"

Elaine:
Right, and beginning to ... It make take a few days, or a little time, to have the full conversation.

Diane:
Right. And part of it is kind of helping them to be clear about what their job is with homework and what your job is, and because a lot of times our kids don't realize that we have a job in it because it's their homework. I'm not saying-

Elaine:
Ideally they see it that way.

Diane:
Ideally. Well, and I think that there's so many of us that help our kids do their homework more than we maybe should, and so there's that dynamic as well. But, I believe that it's our job as parents to help our kids to be as successful as we can, and so that if we communicate that to our kids, it's like, "Hey, let me do my job here. It's your job to do it, it's my job to check in," even if it's just, "Hey, you got it done."

Elaine:
"How you doing?"

Diane:
"How you doing? Show what you finished, what's your plan," those sorts of things.

Elaine:
Now, if you have a better-developed kids or your kids more engaged or bought into their homework and their work, you can do it a little bit differently, a little more sophisticated tool that we would teach is what we call a designed alliance. There's an article on the website called: Relationships by Design. This is when you're really working in tandem with your kid to help them be successful, right? You're sort of at a different level of your role as a parent.

Elaine:
It starts by saying, "Here's what you can count on me for," and then you ask, "This is what I need from you." So, I may say to my daughter, "You know, you can count on me to support you, and to help you when you need it to get your homework done. I just need you to let me know if you need my help, and let me know if you want me to do anything for you, or scribe for you, or something," so that it's a real ... I used to do with her where she wanted me to check in on her because she tended to get distracted. So, the design with her was you're on your own doing your homework, and I'll check in every 15, 20 minutes ago and just say, "Hey, kid. You're doing all right? You're on track?" That was part of her agreement with me and her request of me, so I wasn't enforcing it on her. I was helping fulfill what she wanted from me.

Diane:
Great. So, if you want to stop nagging kids, part of it is about relationship, and part of it is about accountability.

Elaine:
... Yeah, and open communication.

 

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