Sometimes, when faced with complaining kids at the end of a grueling work day (or even at the beginning), you just need a quick answer that does not engage all your emotions. Like any quick trick, these tactics can be overused without wisdom, but they can work great in a pinch or in the right circumstances. Here’s 5 of our favorite parenting tricks for complaining kids.
1. Me Too – We went out for popsicles Sunday afternoon and then walked around a local park. Pretty soon one of my kids was “sooooo thirsty.” A novice parent might try to console their child with assurances – nay – promises that we’ll get water very soon. That parent is a sitting duck. There is no consoling a child 6yrs or younger who is thirsty, hungry, tired, hot or cold. However, “me too” works like a diversionary mind-meld, forcing the child into a universe that includes someone else.
2. Okay With Me – Usually, if my kid is sad or mad or doesn’t like so-and-so, I’m going to want to hear about it and help them talk it out… but sometimes their complaining can distract from the bigger family picture, and it needs to be nipped in the bud. You don’t like your toothpaste? You are mad at your sister? That’s ok with me, let’s keep moving. Used wisely, this tactic can short-circuit your child’s brain just long enough to buy you the time you need to use the bathroom.
3. Boring = Choring – This one is probably self explanatory, but we invented the word choring in response to the word boring. If you are bored, you find something to do. If you say you are bored, we will immediately put you in charge of putting away laundry, loading the dishwasher or scooping up the dog poop in the back yard.
4. The Counselor – Sometimes, the complaining is legitimate, but our kids don’t really need advice. Sometimes they just want to speak and feel heard. Time to engage counselor-speak of “repeat what you just heard.” You know it when you see it…
kid – “I’m tired of my art teacher.”
parent – “Wow – you seem tired of your art teacher.”
kid – “Yeah – all these projects are the same and I wish I had my old art teacher again.”
parent – “hmmmm”
kid – “remember all the cool stuff we did last year? Like sush and such and so and so – you get the idea…
parent – “I guess you miss your old art class.”
You know the drill. Don’t feel bad for not chasing every emotional rabbit trail they open up. Sometimes The Counselor is all they really need.
5. The Surprise Treat – This one is my favorite. I keep a stash of treats behind the coffee in our kitchen cabinet. Right now there’s a half-empty box of Reese’s Pieces and some small peanut butter cups up there. Now, as a rule, we don’t do sweets during the week. Except for things like halloween and chocolate easter bunnies, we save candy and chocolates and dessert for weekends. So when, after some sustained grabble gurt (complaining), I surprise the little griper with a handful of candy coated awesome, it can really turn things around.
I hope you have enjoyed these 5 quick parenting tips. For more Slugs & Bugs parenting nuggets, click on the word “Parenting” in our categories (up and to the right – in blue).
Randall Goodgame is the founder of Slugs & Bugs Family Music. The newest Slugs & Bugs album, Sing the Bible with Slugs & Bugs, Volume 2 is a collection of word-for-word Scripture songs. Sing the Bible with Slugs & Bugs Volume 1 was nominated for Children’s Album of the Year at the 2015 Dove Awards.
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