You room is always a mess. You never listen to me. You are so picky with your food. You take so long to get ready. If you are human, you might recognize some of these. They are common complaints that parents have. We get frustrated with our children’s behavior, so we complain thinking they are going to change.
How’s that working for you?
As a recovering complainer, I’m going to help you stop complaining so you can actually get your kids or whoever you want to listen to you. This works in relationships too.
Let’s go over some fundamentals about complaining:
#1 – Everyone does it – That certainly doesn’t make it right. The average person complains about 30 times a day. I don’t think most people realize that they are complaining, but they do.
#2 – Complaining effects our brain – so complaining actually rewires our brains for negativity. It changes stuff in your brain. I’m not a doctor but that can’t be good.
#3 – Complaining effects our health – It releases cortisol and consistent release of cortisol has a bunch of bad effects on your health. Can make your stress and anxiety worse and increase blood pressure.
#4 – Complaining doesn’t change behavior – complaining is not an effective strategy for change. This has been proven. If you want your kids to listen to you or you want to change their behavior, complaining is not the answer. One really effective way is to ask questions. Let’s look at the examples from the beginning of the video:
Complaint – You room is always a mess
Instead say – What do you need to do before you go out and play?
or Did you want to clean your room before or after you do your homework?
Asking them questions is always a good strategy as you let them come up with the solution and they get to make the choice. Here’s another:
Complaint – You never listen to me
Instead ask: Would you prefer to take a shower or bath?
or What do we do with our dirty clothes when we take them off?
They learn better by having to think of the answer and answering the question. Try this one:
Complaint – You are so picky with your food.
Instead ask – Do you want your pasta with red sauce or no sauce?
or Do you want carrots or celery with your dinner?
Labeling them as picky is not going to help them be bolder with their food choices. Work with them not against them. and finally:
Complaint – I’m tired of you taking so long to get ready
Instead ask: What could I do to help you get ready faster?
orif you have a chart for them in the morning: What time do you need to be done eating breakfast?
In all of these scenarios we are asking questions to help them understand and solve the problem. So here is a summary:
1) Complaining doesn’t work – we got that one
2) Ask questions instead of complaining
3) a bonus tip: Use positive reinforcement – When they do listen or do what you have asked, make a huge deal about it: Thank you so much for cleaning your room. I really appreciate it. If you stop complaining and use these techniques your children will be more likely to listen to you and you will have lower blood pressure.
I’d love to hear from you. Are you a complainer? Share one of your common complaints that you are going to stop now and put it in the comments below.