Stop Complaining!

Question

I have a boy who just turned 8. We eat dinner and shortly after he complains he’s hungry (I fix good, homemade balanced meals). When I fix dinner, he complains he doesn’t like what we’re having. He complains when my granddaughter comes for the summer and they play together. He can’t wait until she leaves. When she leaves, he complains he wants her back to play with. We have fun family outings and he says he doesn’t have fun. He goes to other peoples’ houses who love him and he complains it’s no fun. He goes to friends houses and comes home complaining they didn’t do this or that. What can I do about this constant complainer. Talking to him does nothing. I questioned him about it and he says he doesn’t have fun because he doesn’t get to do whatever he wants.

Answer

Complainers can be exhausting – if you give them the attention they are seeking. Your son’s reasoning to complain aligns nicely with an 8 year old developmentally. Talking to him fuels him and that explains why it does nothing. Commit to being a first responder and not a first reactor in order to diffuse the complaining. When he complains about food, be confident that you fed your family the best possible homemade balanced meal and you do not need to explain that further. When he complains when your granddaughter comes to visit, be confident that you are creating a lovely memory for your granddaughter as you observe the two of them having fun together. When he complains that he is not having fun, be confident that you cannot make him have fun, but you have provided the opportunity to have fun. The conclusion is that if you can detach yourself from the focus of changing your 8 year old’s outlook, you will actually create confidence in your parenting decisions.

Gretchen Slover
drgretchenslover.com

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