How does constant nagging affect a child's confidence? Find the best child psychologist/therapist in Mumbai, Bangalore and Kolkata.

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How does constant nagging affect a child's confidence?

For a child, relationship with parental figures is the most important one. It serves their biological, emotional and social needs, which are crucial to the developing child. Their relationship forms the base for beliefs about themselves as well as affects how their future relationships and attachments are formed. Parenting is difficult, and different parents opt different strategies to discipline their child and get them to work, which may be healthy or unhealthy. Of these, some parents resort to nagging their children as a quick fix. Reasons for parents using this method with their child may be many:

  • Feeling powerless in own lives
  • Anxiety about child coping with the real world competition
  • Looking for quick fixes owing to being busy
  • Having over-the-top expectations from the child
  • Having experienced it in their own childhood

Frequently receiving complaints or being reminded of what to do is disturbing for anyone, let alone a child who is still developing their sense of self. Nagging at a child can have adverse impacts on their confidence:

  • Inferiority: Nagging inherently comes across as a demand rather than a polite request, which may be demeaning to the child and devoid of respect for their feelings. It moves the relationship to a one-sided power dynamic, unhealthy for a parent-child bond.
  • Incompetence: Constantly being reminded of what one needs to do makes the child more dependent on the parents, as they act like a natural alarm system. This removes responsibility of work from the child and places it with the parents, leading to feeling incompetent as they grow.
  • Being trusted: Nagging can make children feel like their parents do not trust them with work. This thought process may carry forward to all relationships later on, resulting in seeking approval from others, and losing confidence in oneself.
  • Focus on negatives: The nagged child may learn to focus on the negatives. This will impact his outlook of the world at large, but also impact his self-image. They may learn to focus solely on their negative traits, eventually overlooking the positives and magnifying the negatives.
  • Resentment: The child may feel angry towards the parent for nagging, which may ultimately result in disengaging and losing a sense of support from their parents.
  • sciplining a child is, no doubt, important. But how one choses to do it, has a great impact on their child’s self-image and worldview. Parenting is sensitive and needs to be treated as such. Here are some ways, one could avoid nagging their child:
  • Attention: Ensuring that the child is listening when parent speaks, so as to avoid filtering their content into the background. Speaking over the television or phone may not be helpful.
  • Response: Ensuring that the child has heard the parent, by warranting a verbal response from them. Asking the child to repeat what was said to them may be useful.
  • Tone: Saying something once is enough, provided it is crisp and clear, rather than it being in a whining or yelling tone.
  • Language: Small details in the language used can go a long way in determining how it is received. Polite words such as “please” add to the acceptance of the statement and do not make the child feel like the parent is speaking from a position of power.
  • Setting Limits: Setting consequences for not doing what the child is supposed to may be more effective than nagging. Pre-deciding the “punishment” for not doing something also gives the child responsibility and the learning to bear with consequences.

Nagging at a child may have adverse consequences on the child’s esteem and confidence, which is carried forward with them well into their adulthood. As a parent, consciously changing one’s behaviour to be more respectful and less annoying would create a healthier home environment. Parents may use a mix of assertiveness and ground rules to steadily implement a positive pattern of interaction. They may get creative with their methods, choosing to make lists of concerned tasks, rewarding the child on a job well done, or setting a chart of punishments.

Learning effective communication strategies to speak to one’s child allows the development of a stronger bond based in mutual respect. Such qualities are carried forward by the child not only in the parental relationships, but in all their interpersonal relationships, including their own children.

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Chinmayee Bagul
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