My 6 year old is currently the queen of complaining. I do not deal well with it. Today we made chocolate milkshakes and went to the water park. Shortly after we got back, the ice cream truck went down our street. The other kids in our complex were getting ice cream - I reminded dd that we had just had a chocolate milkshake. So she began complaining about the injustices of the world. After a long while of being empathetic but firm, I had a bit of a meltdown.
Tonight I went over to our neighbor's house to call her in for dinner. She started complaining that she had to go (I gave her a warning beforehand) and complaining that she wouldn't like the dinner (she didn't know what it was yet).
Yes, I know that this is totally normal kid stuff, but the complaining drives me bonkers. There's rarely appreciation, rarely a please or a thank you. Treats are just accepted as normal. When she doesn't get treats she complains.
I consider myself to be a rather appreciative person. I can find happiness in most things. I rarely complain (except now, when yes...I am complaining!). I think about the positives. I turn hard things around. I suppose I am worried that this constant complaining about minor irritants will be her way of being in life - a way in which you tell yourself that the whole world is against you. I know people like this and I don't like to hang out with them.
So - how do I deal with this on an everyday level? How should I react to all of this complaining? Sometimes I ignore it, sometimes I empathize but continue to say "no," sometimes we find a mutually agreeable solution.
And how can I teach my daughter to create a way of being in the world that does not involve constant complaining - one that involves appreciation instead?
Tricia, mama of dd (6)
It's all normal, but I think it's ok to let her know that constant complaining isn't acceptable, and that it brings you down! I had a rough week with DD (also 6) this week and on Friday afternoon I delivered a stern lecture about acceptable behavior and being kind...and then we went to dinner and she was DELIGHTFUL. And so when we got home I thanked her and asked for more of that behavior. She was great all day Saturday, and Sunday. Today was kind of bratty again. Tomorrow is the first day of school and I'm sure that will be a minefield of a new routine, new teacher, new kids in her class...so she'll probably need a reminder again and some limits set. I think she's like sailing a boat--you just have to keep making little corrections to stay on course.
I found myself where "too much" empathy sort of fed my daughter's sense of injustice. I'm learning to affirm the problem ONCE and then move on?
Yes, you feel bad that you didn't get ice cream. But you just had a chocolate shake. Now, should we keep complaining about what you didn't get or move on to the next thing?
Uh, my 6 yr old DD does the same thing. However not with her dad. I watched one evening as he dealt with her, it was all matter of fact and no budging on things like brushing teeth, coming in for dinner, taking her bath or turning off the tv. He told her what she needed to do. If she didn't do it, he would keep up with his schedule. Eating dinner and putting it all away, turning off the TV and brushing his teeth without her.
I don't know if I could do this, it's not cold or anything. It's their system. And the worst part for me, she seemed so happy and relaxed. After that night I got a smug look from him, like TA DA I rock at this parenting thing.
I still like my methods better but I'm totally going to try the no budging or listening to complaints that do not have merit.
I agree about the empathy thing, and I'd forgotten about that. It didn't work when she was going through HUGE separation anxiety about preschool. I'd empathize and the sadness would get worse. Finally I turned it around and started to say "Hey! You're going to have a wonderful day! Let's think of things to look forward to" and it got somewhat better.
I think I'm stuck between her dad who is very much like the pp's dh and her grandma, who cares for her sometimes and will respond when she complains, usually with what dd wants. I'm not like either of them. But you might be right, I might need to cut down on the empathy. Sometimes I do and I feel a little harsh, but a "hey, too bad, but you already had X and we're not having Y, so let's move on" does seem to work sometimes.
Tricia, mama of dd (6)
The book How to Talk so Kids Will Listen may be helpful for you. There is a course that goes with it that some public libraries have that is very good.
My children and grandson have a life-threatening disease. It is a rare disease and I didn't know my childrens' chance of survival. I now know my grandson has a 64% chance of survival 20 years. When you know the child you are raising only has a little over half a chance of growing up you change your priorities. Getting something from the ice cream truck seems more important than the fact that the child had 2 things in one day. If lactose intollerance is a problem then choose a popscicle. Choose your battles and don't be the bad guy when you can be the good guy for $2 or less.
When she didn't want to leave the friend's house you could say, "I see you don't want to leave. It's time for dinner. You can walk or I will carry you." Don't take her complaining. If she complains when you get home put her in a room you aren't in (not her room). Some place like the laundry room. Say, "This is the complaining room. You can come out when you are done complaing." Be very firm for a few days and you will see a change. This is not a time-out.
My grandson almost 3 year old grandson was trying crying to get what he wanted. I put him in the "crying room" only twice. He stood in the doorway where he could see me crying a little and came out when he stopped. The behavior is extinguished, at least with me. Your daughter is older and it might take longer.
Model being appreciative and hope she does what you do. My kids were shy talking to strangers. We homeschooled and were out in public during the day a lot. This was before homeschooling was common. I would talk for them and say thank you for them. They started feeling "like babies" having their mother talking for them and started gaining confidence talking for themselves. I always get compliments on how polite my adult sons are at their jobs.
These are just some suggestions. Good luck with your daughter.
: Grandmother , 3 Adult Sons
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