Before I became a parent I decided I didn’t want to be a nag. It used to drive me nuts when I mum constantly asked me to do something (sorry mum!). If I’d just got on and done it, she wouldn’t have had to nag but as a child that logic didn’t pop into my brain. Truth be told the more I was nagged to do something, the less I wanted to do it. I’m still the same now with some things!
When my son moved in it wasn’t long before I realised I sounded like I was nagging. ‘Don’t do that’, ‘put your shoes on’ (repeated a lot every morning before school), ‘stop doing that’, ‘pick your clothes up’, ‘clean your teeth’, etc. The problem was I didn’t know how to stop doing it and felt like I had to deal with everything all the time.
Then I learnt about NVR and a lightbulb came on. It effectively gave me permission not to deal with everything all at the same time. I felt a weight lift off my shoulders, although that was soon replaced by the looks from other parents when I didn’t deal with every little issue in the ‘traditional’ way! I’ve got over that now.
I use an approach called ‘the baskets’ in NVR, which is a way of prioritising behaviours and deciding where to put your energy. It stops you sounding like a nag, but most importantly it works.
There are 3 baskets and we divide the behaviours into the different baskets:
Here’s how you do it:
1) write down all the behaviours you are struggling with. Include everything from not brushing teeth to physical violence.
2) now decide which are you top two priority behaviours. These behaviours go into your red, small basket
3) now decide on the next 3 or 4 priority behaviours. These go into your amber, middle basket
4) the rest go into the green, large basket.
The top priority behaviours are where you put your energy and focus. The middle priority you may not deal with every time, depending on the situation. The low priority behaviours you ignore for now. These are often trigger behaviours for the higher priority behaviours, so ignoring them can reduce the frequency of the higher priority behaviours occurring.
Over time the top priority behaviours reduce and you’ll get to the point where you can reprioritise your list and move them to the middle basket and put something else in the top basket.
I used this system very effectively when things were very challenging and I was surprised by how well it worked. I’ve now taught it to 100’s of other parents and they are all using it. One key thing, is to make sure both parents are prioritising the same behaviours. It’s more effective that way.