How to Keep Your Cool When Kids Complain


Do you ever wish your child came with a remote control? You could pause the behaviors you don’t like. Mute the words you don’t want to hear. And, rewind to more blissful times.

Since our kids don’t come with a remote control, how do we handle hearing kids complain? You know the complaints that make us cringe – crying, whining, begging, and arguing.

You may run and hide in the bathroom until the whining stops. Or, maybe you shout for them to cut it out. And, as a last resort, you argue back, begging them to be respectful and peaceful. Now, you are hooked in their web and exhausted.

Instead of trying to stop your child’s behavior, teach them when you are the best listener. Respond to children’s complaints with simple actions. Actions speak louder than words. Don’t reinforce children’s complaints with more words.

4 Steps to Help Keep Your Cool When Kids Complain:

Cool Your Anger – Take a deep breath. Or, leave the room briefly. Find your best way to calm your anger. To not let your child’s complaining get under your skin as much.

Find another way to think about the complaints. To not take it as personal. This will allow you to leave the irritation within your child. They will be learning how to deal with disappointment.

Know Your Position – A child has their own way of letting us know they are not happy. It doesn’t have to be an attack on our parenting. It is an outward expression of disappointment and frustration.

Instead of trying to shape up your child, let them know when you are the best listener. Something like, “I’m happy to listen when you talk in a calm voice (or big boy/girl voice).” Teach them about when you listen to complaints.

Be The Boundary – Teach them with your actions. Make your actions match your words. Instead of focusing on what your child is doing, focus on defining yourself to your child. It’s not enough to say, “I love you more than I love arguing.” You must actually stop arguing too.

You’ve said your position and you are going on with your day. Now, your child raises the volume or throws a bigger fuss. Hold on, you are almost there. It may take multiple repetitions for them to know your can enforce your own words. Be the boundary you are trying to teach them.

Identify Hooks – Identify what hooks you into an argument with your child. Do you like to have the last word? Are you worried they don’t respect adults? Or, does your child convince you to feel sorry for him? Or, worse, compare you to others?

Whatever the hook, know what lures you into a power struggle of words with your child. Save your vocal cords for calmer moments. The more you can remember that a child’s complaint doesn’t mean anything about your relationship. It doesn’t mean they don’t love you. It means they don’t like the situation they’ve gotten themselves into.

Free yourself up from the word battle with kids. By defining what you are willing and not willing to do, you are modeling self-control and self-responsibility. You are teaching them how to communicate more effectively without yelling, arguing, or wearing out the remote control batteries.

What helps you keep your cool with your kids?


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Speaking of word battles, check out my guest post on Psychology, Philosophy, & Real Life: 3 Missing Ingredients for Fabulous Facebook Connections

Photo Credit: Justin Lowery

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