Neither of my girls are big fans of school. There are a lot of reasons for this. They’re both active kids who don’t really like to sit still. Neither of them enjoys the drama that enters into girl relationships. They’re both smart kids who don’t really enjoy the slow pace of learning in a large class.
I understand the reasons that they don’t enjoy school, but the reality is that they have to go to school. Complaining about it constantly isn’t going to make that reality go away, and it isn’t going to make their attitude toward school improve. Before Christmas break, I realized that my girls had gotten into a really bad habit of complaining about school — every day. We spent a great break together, but the complaining started up again on Sunday, the day before they had to go back.
We all like to complain. If something annoys us or we have to do something we don’t like, a lot of times our first response is to complain about it. The thing about complaining is that it doesn’t really make us feel better. It just makes us focus on the things that we don’t like, which sends our mood plummeting.
God knows this. That’s why Philippians 2:14-16 says, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, ‘children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.‘ Then you will shine among them like stars in the skyas you hold firmly to the word of life.” When we grumble and complain, we don’t represent God well. Not complaining sets us apart. It lets us “shine like stars.”
But not complaining is hard. How do we teach our kids to leave the complaining behind even when they have to do things they don’t enjoy?
Pay attention to your own attitude. If you grumble and complain about things, your kids will grumble and complain about things. Our kids learn a lot from us without us ever knowing it. If we want our kids to quit complaining, then we have to quit complaining, too.
Focus on the positive. We have a new rule in our house about school. If you have something negative to say about school, you have to say three positive things first. This forces my kids to think about the good things that happen during their day instead of only focusing on the bad stuff. If my kids are having problems or frustrations, I want to hear about them, but I also want them to realize that good things happen during the day, too.
Reward looking on the bright side. If you have a perpetual complainer, start rewarding positive thinking with a compliment or a small reward — extra TV, later bedtime, a lollipop. Let your child know that you’re watching and listening and that you think not complaining is important enough to encourage with a reward.
Come up with a catchprase. Complaining is a habit. If we want our kids to break that habit, then we have to give them something to replace the complaining with. Give your kids something else to say when they want to complain. Memorize Philippians 2:14 and have your kids say it before they open their mouths to complain or come up with another verse or statement that your kids can say.
When we get rid of the complaining in our lives, we can focus on all the gifts God has given us, on all the things He has provided for our needs. When we stop focusing on the negative, we can be grateful for all the good things in our lives.