(you can replace "parent" and "child" with"spouse/boyfriend/girlfriend" and the same concepts apply)
When you're the child, however, it's something else. It's that ear-piercing tone beyond which you cannot hear anything except for your parents yelling at you to do this and do that because apparently if I don't, the world will end and Will Smith will have to star in another terrible movie. It's nagging.
(sorry Will, sitting through "After Earth" is way worse than nagging)
Something that I talk about a lot with my clients is that we need to remember the reason why you opened your mouth in the first place. Too often I hear from parents/spouses/etc. who "just want him to listen because I want what's best for him." If you think that your nagg-, err, advice/encouragement is what he needs, then you need to say it in a way that he will understand, or else you end up sounding like the teacher from "Peanuts":
You need to communicate in a way that gets your point across, not a way that you think that should (I hate that word) get your point across. It doesn't matter if you use a beautiful voice and stick with iambic pentameter with a cool rhyme scheme if your kid doesn't get it. You wouldn't speak English to a random person in Taiwan, even if it's up to Mary Poppins standard, and expect him to understand, would you?
If you want to get something across to anyone, try to think from his perspective in that particular moment. "Honey, I really need you to take the garbage out; it's really starting to stink," may not work with a teenager who is watching a game. However, "Hey Jason, the trash in here smells almost as bad as that call by the ref (hating on a game official is pretty much something that everyone can agree on). Since we can't take him out of the game, take this trash out during this commercial break. That'll show him." Of course, wait until it is a commercial break. It's not that hard, just deliver it in a way that your kid/spouse/etc. can relate to, and you've got a much better chance of it getting done.
The other secret is to not say it often. The more often you say something, especially something that someone doesn't want to hear, the more quickly that the person will block it out or just resent you entirely for saying it. Likewise, giving someone time to do what you're asking is just as important as how you're saying it. If you keep "advising" your kid to do his homework, then he's going to see the homework not as a tool for learning but as the source of all of this grief that you're giving him, and it's very likely that he either will do a terrible job on it, which is the opposite of what you wanted in the first place, or he won't do it at all. Why? To spite you. He's going to view the homework as your excuse to nag him, as sort of a weapon of annoyance passed down from parent generation to parent generation, and so he'll use it right back on you. Hey, at least that's logical!
However, a kid never wants to disappoint you, believe it or not. If you praise him for something that he's done that day, anything at all no matter how insignificant you think that it is, and then you gently remind him about his homework, two things will probably happen:
1) He'll be really happy that he's earned your praise, and that will make him want to earn it again.
2) He'll see homework as a relatively easy way to earn that praise.
3) He'll get straight A's forever, be a Rhodes Scholar, become president, and cure everything. By the age of 20.
Okay, maybe there's a little bit more to number three. Just a little.
Anyway, with that, you get the homework done, you get a better relationship with your kid, and you have something to brag about at the water cooler at work the next day.
Of course, the only thing worse than a nagger is a bragger. Well, not really. That's just something that people say who don't bust their behinds to give their children the best opportunities to succeed.
In future blog posts I'll talk more about how to apply this to not only your kids but to your spouse, your friends, and even your boss. Getting something done in all of those relationships can have parts that are really hard, but remember:
Nobody said that it would be easy, but nobody said that you had to do it alone.