Time to Stop the Reminding Habit

By Joey & Carla Link

June 28, 2023

“Colin, it’s almost time to leave for school. Don’t forget it’s your turn to take the trash out. Here’s your backpack, put it by the door so you don’t forget it again. Where’s that note I need to sign for your teacher?”

Missy, I told you an hour ago to get your toys picked up. Why is the floor of your room still a mess? We’re leaving in 15 minutes to go to the grocery store and they better be picked up before we go or else you will be in BIG trouble!”

“Kevin, have you finished your homework?” “Kevin, dinner is in an hour, is your homework done yet? You know your dad wants it done before dinner.”

Why do you think you need to keep reminding your kids? Do you think they won’t get their stuff done without reminders from you? When you remind your kids, who’s doing the remembering, you or them?

How many times do you remind your kids every day to get their stuff done and keep track of their things? 

We are often asked questions such as, “Can I expect my 7 year-old to remember to make his bed? “Why won’t my 12 year-old get his homework done without me nagging him?” “If I tell my 5 year-old to go upstairs and pick up her toys, why can’t she remember to get them cleaned up when she gets to her room?”

Our answer is the same to all these questions. Your kids can remember. The reason they don’t remember to get things done is because they don’t have to.

About Reminders:

1.     You have trained your kids to wait to be reminded. Your kids don’t remember because they don’t have to when they can count on you to do their “remembering” for them. I think most moms remind out of habit. When you remind your child/teen you are telling him/her that you don’t think he will get it done without your reminders. Kids lose their confidence in themselves when they don’t think you have confidence in them to do their own remembering.

2.     Even in the best of circumstances, your kids are going to put off doing what they don’t want to do until you force them to. Do you seriously think your kids, especially 8 yrs. and above don’t remember they have homework to do? There is a big difference between forgetting and choosing to forget. We had a guideline for our kids and that was when they got home from school they got a snack and a drink and then homework was first on the agenda. I had set periods for each subject when I homeschooled and if my kids didn’t get their work done before the next period, they had to do it after school as homework.

3.     Give your kids consequences when they don’t “remember” to get things done. We can already hear many of you thinking, “Consequences don’t work.”

For consequences to work they must be painful. Trust us; taking away their phone for an hour is not painful. Taking it away for a week is.

Take away what they misused. Think outside the box. They spoke to you disrespectfully? Take away their freedom to talk.

Kevin doesn’t get his homework done? Let his teacher deal with it. Or, if you homeschool he loses the privilege of doing anything else until it is. Our kids schooled until bedtime while their siblings were having fun. They schooled all day Saturday after their chores were finished and Sunday after church. They learned to keep up with their schoolwork.

When Colin can’t get everything together he needs for school he goes without. He didn’t get that permission slip for the field trip to you for your signature. Oh well, he doesn’t get to go. He forgets the shoes he needs for basketball practice? He sits practice out. If that means he doesn’t get to play in the next game, he can figure out how to make that up to the coach.  

4.     Praise and encourage them when they get their stuff done with no reminders and with a good attitude. When praise and encouragement are used effectively, they do wonders in the life of your child.

When is the time for reminders? When you are training your child to a new behavior. Once you are certain your child knows what to do, how to do it and so forth, it is time for your reminders to stop. When your child remembers what he/she is supposed to do without reminders or lectures from you, he is taking ownership of the task and you don’t have to. When you believe your kids won’t get their stuff done without reminders, you own their behaviors. 

Stop reminding and your children will start remembering!

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”

James 4:17