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Excessive Complaining

Question

My question is about my thirteen-year-old daughter and her constant complaining whenever she's asked to do something that she doesn't want to do. She will get emotional and complain and argue, and tell me why she doesn't want to do it, how it's not fair, etc. But then she will do it. She almost always does what I ask, but lately it is super rare for her to do it without complaining. It's really frustrating that she complains so much before and while she does it. She changes the whole mood of the house and creates so much tension and brings so much drama. It frustrates me because I feel that doing things without complaining is an important character quality. The only time she doesn't complain about something is if she wants something. I feel like sometimes you need to do things without complaining because that's part of life. So, what do you think I should do when she throws a fit like this?

Answer

While I agree that teenagers (especially girls) do like to complain, this does sound as if it is excessive. One thing you could do is to tell her, calmly and unemotionally, that her constant complaining about chores will no longer be tolerated, and that if she chooses to complain when asked to do something, you will treat that as if the chore has not been done, and consequences will be imposed--the first time. Let her know that in life, we don't always get to choose what we want to do 100% of the time and that chores and doing things around the house are just a part of life. You don't complain. Your spouse doesn't complain. So neither should she.

Then for the next few times you ask her to do something, remind her to "do xxx... without complaint" or "with a smile" or whatever phrase you like. She will need to be reminded a few times in the beginning. And then, if she does choose to complain, levy swift consequences that she will remember.

The important thing here is not to beg and plead. Just tell her what you will expect and what will happen if she chooses not to follow the rules. After all, you are her parents, and you know best!

Laura Gray, PhD
Certified Leadership Parenting Coach

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