For sure, you’ve had a real-life experience of kid’s pester power. You’re sitting at your home office, swamped with emails and paperwork, and then you feel a tap on your hand, your toddler asking if he can watch some more cartoons on the iPad — for the 5th time. Or, you’re probably strolling through the mall, window-shopping, when your toddler sees a doll they want, begging you to buy, throwing tantrums as you tell them no. In the end, in both situations, you end up giving in — the power of pestering.
Why Yielding to Pestering is a No-No
Kids learn early on that nagging their parents to the point of frustration helps them get what they want. Over time, as the behaviour becomes a habit, it affects how they deal with people around them. For one, they unconsciously think of themselves as more superior than you, precisely because they can get what they want whenever they want it. Given that, your authority as a parent wanes. The ‘rules’ you tell them don’t matter anymore. If you give in to their request of using iPad beyond the 2-hour rule, they will continue to push beyond limits, and ultimately beyond mere screen time. It may sound silly to have a toddler hold more power than their parents, but think about it, how many times have you felt compelled to get them the toy they want in the store? Or give the extra cookie in the jar? Or have them stay up beyond midnight? You may be giving your kid more authority than they’re supposed to have.
The only way to deal with pestering then is to never give in to it. When your child continually nags you, your best defence is to stay calm. Losing your cool will leave you vulnerable to yielding. Allow your child to throw tantrums, and when they’re ready to talk, remind them of why you’re saying no. It’s crucial that they understand the reason you’re not giving them extra screen time or buying that doll in the store. Otherwise, they’ll feel that you’re depriving them just for the sake of it.
How You Can Reduce Pestering
Of course, prevention is better than cure. Better to limit pestering than deal with the tantrums later. One way you can reduce the habit is to teach your kids how to deal with uncomfortable emotions. Children pester mainly because they’re upset that they’re not getting what they want. The solution, as mentioned, isn’t to yield, but to help them regulate emotions properly. Talking it out, for instance, can help, as it serves as an outlet for pent-up feelings. Teach your kids how to identify emotions. If you’re enrolling them to an early learning centre, Metford childhood development specialists recommend finding schools that offer programs for social-emotional learning. Teachers often use art and music to help kids be in touch with their feelings and express such in a healthy manner.
Another way you can limit the pestering habit is to be clear with the consequences of the behaviour. They should know that when they ask for more screen time for the nth time, they’d lose their privileges the next day or they won’t be able to play with their friends outside. Stick to these rules through and through and remind your child when they start to nag you.
No to Pestering
Again, it’s not healthy for kids to continue with the badgering habit — but it’s even more unhealthy if you give in to them. Teach your kid instead how they can exercise self-control. As for you, be firm in saying no.