Can the Complaining

Courtesy Stuart Miles

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.

 

Learning Not to Whine

We’re spending a couple of days with my extended family, so I’m taking a two-day break. The extended time we spend with our kids in the summer means whining and complaining are more noticeable. Enjoy this post from the archives on curbing complaining and don’t forget to enter the giveaway from Friday’s post.

My children are champion complainers. I think all children are. Sometimes it seems like no matter what you do with and for your kids, they can always find something to complain about. And it can make you want to throw your hands up in frustration.

Last night, my youngest daughter had hockey practice — outside. Now, we don’t normally practice outside, but the rink where she plays closed down and some of the other rinks in town offered us ice time. Our team got sent to the outdoor rink in town. The most important piece of information that you need to know about last night is that it was 9 degrees with sub-zero windchills. Oh, and did I mention it was snowing?

I have to tell you that I was in a mood to grumble about the insanity of having practice in those types of conditions, but I bundled her up in as many clothes as I could fit under her pads and off we went. On the way there, we talked about not complaining about the weather. I told her that her coaches knew it was cold and it wasn’t going to make it any less cold if she complained about it.

I fully expected her to come off the ice at the end of the hour complaining about how cold she was. She actually came off the ice with a smile on her face and couldn’t stop talking about how much fun she had. It was amazing. The only comment she made about the cold was that her toes were tingling. I was so proud of her.

You see, complaining is all about attitude. If we teach our kids to go into a tough situation with a positive attitude and a commitment not to complain, then their attitude is focused on the good stuff — not the bad. God’s not a big fan of complaining either. Philippians 2:14-15 tells us “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”

But it’s tough not to complain when something doesn’t go our way, especially when you’re a kid. Make it a point to teach your kids the value of not complaining.

  • Help your kids memorize Philippians 2:14-15. Talk about how not complaining makes them stand out from a crowd. Take them outside on a clear night and look at how bright the stars are. Talk about how when we refrain from complaining about things it makes us stand out like the stars stand out on a clear night.
  • Have your kids make stars to hang somewhere in their rooms. Tell them that every time they look at the stars, it should be a reminder to them that God wants us to do everything without grumbling or complaining so that we can shine.
  • Examine your own attitude. Your example is the one that your kids will follow. If you tell them not to complain, but then you complain about the things that go wrong during your day, then your kids will follow your example.
  • Recognize the difference between complaining and explaining a problem. You don’t want to make your kids afraid of bringing their problems to you. You simply want to cut down on the whining.
  • Praise your kids when they don’t complain about difficult situations. If you know they are going into a tough situation where complaining would be easy, remind them to focus on the good stuff and to refrain from complaining about the bad. When they pull that off, praise them.

Learning to focus on the positive and walk through a tough situation without complaining is a valuable skill for kids to learn. It makes them stand out, but remember that it’s not easy. Encourage your kids to ask God for help when they are tempted to whine or complain. God gives us strength to do the tough stuff — including overcoming the urge to complain.

Focus on the Good Stuff

It’s been a long school year for my oldest daughter. After having a fantastic fourth-grade year, her fifth-grade experience hasn’t been that great. She’s handling the schoolwork fine, but she’s not really engaged in her classroom and the girl drama factor has increased ten-fold.

About a month ago, I noticed that our mornings were going something like this: wake up the kids, listen to my oldest complain for half an hour about having to go to school, kiss the kids and send them off to school. When my girls got home, my oldest would tell me all about how much she disliked school. After checking to make sure nothing really terrible was happening at school, it dawned on me that my daughter was making her day a self-fulfilling prophecy.

While it would be nice to be able to change the issues that are making my daughter unhappy with school, I can’t change her teacher, the kids in her class or the school work. What we can change is her attitude toward school.

I don’t think I’m ever going to send her out the door to school skipping and singing, but if we start the day with the right attitude then the things that happen at school won’t seem so bad. If my daughter’s mind is focused on the good things in life, then everything else won’t seem so bad.

God knows this. That’s why He tells us to focus our minds on the best thing — Him. Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” When we view the days as an opportunity to be an example of God to others, when our minds are firmly focused on Him, we can put the irritations of the day aside as “light and momentary troubles” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

But that attitude is tough for me to master. How does a 10-year-old get her mind around it? It starts with what she sees from me. Teaching her to have a God-focused attitude means I have to have one, too. If she sees me grumble about the unpleasant aspects of my day in the morning, then she learns that behavior as well.

Create an atmosphere that fosters God-centered attitudes in your home by modeling it and teaching your kids how to turn their minds from grumbling to rejoicing.

  • Pray, pray and pray some more. Start your day by praying for your kids. Ask God to give them and you attitudes that reflect all He has done for you, not the minor irritations of the coming day. Pray with your kids about whatever issues are robbing them of their joy. Teach your kids to pray while they are in the situations that are causing them angst.
  • Outlaw complaining for complaining’s sake. If your child has legitimate concerns, let them share them, but don’t let them make broad statements about how much they dislike whatever activity is causing the issue. My daughter was telling me every morning how much she disliked school. She was setting up her day to be miserable from the get-go. So, we simply told her she couldn’t make broad generalizations about hating school. If she had a specific issue to discuss, we would discuss it, but we weren’t going to start every day with a poor attitude.
  • Focus on the good stuff. Even if your child dislikes doing something, there are probably parts of the activity that he likes. My daughter doesn’t hate everything about school. She likes her friends, recess and PE. If she starts complaining about school in general, we stop her and ask her to name something she does like.
  • Create an expectation of something good. God promises us that all things work together for good for those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Even the bad stuff, God can use for good. Before you send your kids off to whatever activity is causing their poor attitude, remind them that God has good stuff in store for them. Set your kids up to expect that God will do something good during their day.
  • Set aside some time to share what God has done during the day. Whether at dinner or at bedtime or right after school, ask your kids to share one good thing that God did in their lives that day. This gets your kids focused on seeing how God is working in their lives and focusing on how He makes things work for good.

Focusing on the good things God is doing in our lives, fills us with joy. It drives out the tendency to focus on everything that has gone wrong and gives us a refreshed spirit. When negative attitudes creep into your and your kids’ lives, drive them out by focusing on the good God is doing.

Linking up today with Women Living Well .

Would You Like Some Cheese to Go With That Whine?

My children are champion complainers. I think all children are. Sometimes it seems like no matter what you do with and for your kids, they can always find something to complain about. And it can make you want to throw your hands up in frustration.

Last night, my youngest daughter had hockey practice — outside. Now, we don’t normally practice outside, but the rink where she plays closed down and some of the other rinks in town offered us ice time. Our team got sent to the outdoor rink in town. The most important piece of information that you need to know about last night is that it was 9 degrees with sub-zero windchills. Oh, and did I mention it was snowing?

I have to tell you that I was in a mood to grumble about the insanity of having practice in those types of conditions, but I bundled her up in as many clothes as I could fit under her pads and off we went. On the way there, we talked about not complaining about the weather. I told her that her coaches knew it was cold and it wasn’t going to make it any less cold if she complained about it.

I fully expected her to come off the ice at the end of the hour complaining about how cold she was. She actually came off the ice with a smile on her face and couldn’t stop talking about how much fun she had. It was amazing. The only comment she made about the cold was that her toes were tingling. I was so proud of her.

You see, complaining is all about attitude. If we teach our kids to go into a tough situation with a positive attitude and a commitment not to complain, then their attitude is focused on the good stuff — not the bad. God’s not a big fan of complaining either. Philippians 2:14-15 tells us “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”

But it’s tough not to complain when something doesn’t go our way, especially when you’re a kid. Make it a point to teach your kids the value of not complaining.

  • Help your kids memorize Philippians 2:14-15. Talk about how not complaining makes them stand out from a crowd. Take them outside on a clear night and look at how bright the stars are. Talk about how when we refrain from complaining about things it makes us stand out like the stars stand out on a clear night.
  • Have your kids make stars to hang somewhere in their rooms. Tell them that every time they look at the stars, it should be a reminder to them that God wants us to do everything without grumbling or complaining so that we can shine.
  • Examine your own attitude. Your example is the one that your kids will follow. If you tell them not to complain, but then you complain about the things that go wrong during your day, then your kids will follow your example.
  • Recognize the difference between complaining and explaining a problem. You don’t want to make your kids afraid of bringing their problems to you. You simply want to cut down on the whining.
  • Praise your kids when they don’t complain about difficult situations. If you know they are going into a tough situation where complaining would be easy, remind them to focus on the good stuff and to refrain from complaining about the bad. When they pull that off, praise them.

Learning to focus on the positive and walk through a tough situation without complaining is a valuable skill for kids to learn. It makes them stand out, but remember that it’s not easy. Encourage your kids to ask God for help when they are tempted to whine or complain. God gives us strength to do the tough stuff — including overcoming the urge to complain.