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Chronic complainers, whether kids or adults are no fun to be around. They drain your energy and sap your strength. It can be especially hard for parents to listen to their kids complain, whine and nag all day. But why do they do it?

Some kids complain mostly because they want something different from what they are getting or they’re uncomfortable about a situation and don’t know how to effectively communicate their needs. Others simply do it because it’s a way to establish contact or get a reaction from you.

Older kids like tweens and teens often complain because it’s uncool to seem enthusiastic about anything. As they progress to adulthood, teens constantly look for ways to assert their independence and to them, complaining or being contrary is their way of doing that.

Either way, as parents, we can all agree that listening to our kids complaining gets old real fast. So what can you do about it?

Consider why it gets you so worked up.

Knowing why your kid’s complaining pushes your buttons can allow you to find calm ways of dealing with it. Does their complaining trigger your anxiety? Do you feel responsible for your child’s happiness? Whatever it is, figuring it out is the first step.

Be a good role model.

Kids emulate us, so if you’re a chronic whiner and complainer, don’t be surprised if your kids take after you. If you constantly catch yourself complaining or regretting things you say in the heat of the moment, perhaps it’s time to change your habits.

Reflect, don’t react.

Try not to get pulled in by your kid’s negativity. Practice active listening and validating their feelings but don’t feed their mood. While it can be hard to hear your children whine, sometimes they just need to vent, and being overly critical of this can only make them dig in.

Encourage problem-solving.

Sometimes our kids can resort to complaining if they feel overwhelmed. Going on and on about their fears and worries might be their way of seeking control in various situations. If you notice this is the case, equip your child with problem-solving skills

The next time they come to you with their complaints, try asking them, “What can you do about it?” This turns them from focusing on the problem to looking for possible solutions.

Put a time limit on complaining.

Another great idea is to establish a complaint time in your household. This could be 10 minutes after dinner, or any other appropriate time, where your kids are free to complain about everything that’s bothering them. Ensure you limit it to that particular time then encourage them to find something to be grateful about.

Dealing with kids who complain all the time isn’t easy. However, finding the root cause of their complaints and encouraging them to solve their own problems can work wonders.