Complaining about chores - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 9 Old 08-23-2011, 03:37 PM - Thread Starter
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DD is 7 and tends to complain a lot while doing chores. Her chores are very reasonable for her age, believe me. Now, she DOES the chores, but she whines and moans and drags her feet while doing them. Do you ignore this kind of behavior or do something about it? My tendency is to ignore her as long as they get done, but then, DD is the type who could easily do this with a teacher or other authority figure. In fact, I've seen her do it, and believe me, it has put people off . So it concerns me to just totally let it go, even though it makes life easier on me and I generally prefer to just ignore little annoying stuff like this. Thoughts?

grateful mother to DD, 1/04, and DS, 2/08

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#2 of 9 Old 08-23-2011, 05:45 PM
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We just recently developed a little chart with my son's chores (he's 8) on it. If he does the chores "in good spirit" (which is our way of saying, without complaining and moaning) then he gets a smiley. If he either doesn't do the chore, or does it with complaints and making us miserable, then he gets a frownie. At the end of the week we tally the ratio of smilies to frownies. If it's not a good ratio, his allowance is cancelled until he gets back on board. He can do all sorts of added chores if he wants to add more smilies and improve his ratio.


We don't pay for chores directly, but our philosophy is that we all have to work on things around here. It's a family unit; we all pitch in. If a person doesn't do that, or won't do it without moaning, I can't see how he deserves an allowance. He's pretty motivated, both to earn the smilies and also to get his allowance back, as he has toys he wants to save up for.


I used to be influenced by RU mom Dayna Martin, whose kids never HAVE to do anything, and who apparently just love to help out. But when I discovered that our son wasn't like that, and was getting a real rotten sense of entitlement that work was his parents' job to do, we ended that philosophy then & there!  :-)


Oddly enough, now that we've been more stern with the chores, he actually seems to do them more willingly. My theory is that they are allowing him to build self-esteem as a valued helper around here. He does take pride when he helps.

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#3 of 9 Old 08-26-2011, 09:02 PM
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I LOVE the smiley/frowny for "in good spirit," NelliKatz! We will be starting that TOMORROW! :)

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#4 of 9 Old 08-27-2011, 04:49 PM
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I probably wouldn't ignore the behavior.  I mean, I don't specifically have a chore situation, but when my daughter (who also is seven!) whines or complains, my intended response would be to listen to her.  Sometimes I just get irritated and react, but at whatever point I can connect to myself, I then start listening & allowing, no longer resisting (through irritation or reasoning with her or pointing out problems with her logic...)


So yeah, I would choose "do something about it" over "ignore it," but for me doing something wouldn't mean coming down on it or doing something in order to stop it.  In my experience, if I take a hard line that the complaining or whining is unacceptable or unreasonable, it is likely to prolong it more than anything else.


I don't like whining, it can make me quickly agitated, but I believe that whining and complaining is a signal that something is off for a person, so remembering that can help me think of it as less The Problem and more a signal or symptom of some underlying problem.  (This is another reason I wouldn't just ignore it, because it's pretty much a call for help or request for connection around an issue.)  I don't have to figure it out and know "for certain" what is going on, just shift my relationship to the whining/complaining behavior enough through knowing that something is going on.


Anyway, if I feel annoyed or irritated, chances are I am taking on something (like a feeling like this is some problem I have to solve, a "good mom" could fix it) and then feeling edgy & annoyed when it's clear that I can't fix things because my kind reasonableness doesn't "work."  For me, this is a time for reflective listening (just letting my kid have her feelings & thoughts, and containing them/her with my acknowledgment & acceptance), not the time for making suggestions, giving explanations, trying to reason with her, or solving/stopping things in any way.


I think this situation is one of those times when "the child owns the problem," and the whining & complaining & general irritability (all of which is usually part of a victim mindset, locating blame AND the solution/key for one's happiness outside oneself) is probably a signal of being stuck somewhere in the process of coming to terms with not being able to have/do what she wants, or having to do something she doesn't want to do.


It's just like having feelings about encountering a limit & not being able to change it---there is a struggle & then a grieving process when the person deals with the reality that they couldn't change what they wanted to change, and has to offload frustration, grief, disappointment, the rage that can come from feeling powerless, etc. in order to regain emotional equilibrium.  Resisting the expression of these feelings (even just through trying to explain or fix things) tends to prolong the process or get the person stuck in defensively insisting on these issues, while reflective listening, (even just sympathetic & understanding silence and acknowledgment), facilitate process, itself.


Just being with & allowing the feelings seems to open things up & at that point, kids seem able to find their own solutions or just to resolve their feelings & move on (even with no "answer" or change in the external circumstances.)


So hearing her, having kind of a "Yeah" or "I see" sensibility, with enough reflecting that it's clear that you actually "get it," and not needing to answer it or take issue with it, may help most of all.  You don't have to "agree," just to be able to see how her thoughts & feelings make sense from her point of view.  It's not really something you "do to" her at all, and the effort is likely to backfire in big ways if it becomes that rather than an attitude or an orientation toward, or a kind receptivity that emerges out of connection & acceptance.

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#5 of 9 Old 08-28-2011, 07:31 AM
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my child is the same way!!  She complains over ANY tiny little chore.  IT really drives me nuts.  Or her first reaction is always, "What does my sister have to do?" 

She really just likes to play all the time and not do chores.  Hard to explain to a child that life is about doing things you (often) don't want to do!

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#6 of 9 Old 08-28-2011, 06:56 PM
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Have you tried  

How about whining back at her? You could have a big 1-minute whine all together, and then get to work.  Or whine when she asks you to do something and see if she takes the hint.

Did she get to choose any of her chores?  My mom and my sister and I would always sit down once a year and take turns picking chores from a list.  I didn't like dusting, but at least it was better than vacuuming.



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#7 of 9 Old 08-28-2011, 08:06 PM
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When there is whining or dragging of feet around chores, the kids are assigned extra chores that day.  One thing that has helped now that the kids are a little older (8 & 10) is saying to them... look around the house in the morning (before chores are assigned for the day), you can see what needs doing and if you choose to do a few chores on your own (that need doing and I would be likely to assign anyway) then they count toward your contribution for the day.  One DD feels empowered by this and does all of her chores on her own before breakfast, the other prefers to have chores assigned but is pretty compliant about it, having had the choice.

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#8 of 9 Old 08-29-2011, 06:15 PM
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My kids are little, but I've always maintained that if you can't work nicely, then you must need practice.  So when you finish doing that chore, you can move on  to another.  Very cheerfully and matter-of-fact.  But, we don't stop until the attitude is good.  All my monkey's (6, 4, and 2) are cheerful helpers.  And the baby loves to be part of everything, and picks up on their attitude and is sweet, too!

"If you keep doing the same things you've always done, you'll keep getting the same results you've always gotten."

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#9 of 9 Old 08-30-2011, 06:31 PM
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I empathize then ignore the complaining as long as the job gets done.  I don't always feel like doing my chores either so my dd definitely sees some complaining modeled.  I feel like it would be very unfair for me to expect her to paste on a cheerful smile to do a job that I myself also don't want to do at times.  I think that it fine for my dd to see that sometimes people are very unhappy to do something but they do it anyways because it needs to be done, so I have no plans to stop complaining occasionally.  If her teachers want to deal with it differently at school then that is their business, at home we have different expectations than a group setting needs to have.  I will back up her teachers and help her understand their point of view but I don't change the expectations at home, though I may talk to her about why they are different.

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