Complaining without a solution is whining. You may have heard a quote similar to this idea. (More on that and other quotes later for interested fellow word nerds!) The habit of complaining and carrying on without doing anything about it is a huge problem for both children and adults.
Every parent deals with whining. Sometimes kids whine for a good reason – it’s a sign that they are genuinely hungry, tired, or scared! But often we find ourselves dealing with pointless grumbling that comes from being bored, not getting what they want, or just trying to get our attention.
Kids don’t whine while you’re reading fun books to them! Robot Activated! by Belle Green entertains with a point of view of persistence.
When your child starts whining, it can be tempting to give in just to stop the noise. But if you do that every time, you’ll soon have a kid who only knows how to communicate by endless carrying on about things. That doesn’t sound like fun for anyone, nor is it a solution for long-term success. Instead, try redirecting your child’s focus and teaching them how to problem-solve.
Whines and Complaints? Start at the Source.
Before you can address a whining problem you’re experiencing with your kids, it’s time to look in the mirror. Ouch. Yes, our children are quite frequently an accurate reflection of what they view in us. We should search ourselves first. Are we being overly critical? Or carrying on about things that we can’t do anything about (like news covering something happening on the other side of the world or we haven’t gotten a reply to an important email), or bringing up these problems without being problem-solvers ourselves? The only time my son whines about being “too tired” to do something is when he’s heard me or my husband whine about how tired we are.
Dang it. Busted. That’s a sign to me to be more careful with my words.
Take a quick assessment of your own behavior without judgement. There’s no points for fooling yourself here. We all complain. But do we do it productively? Or are we simply whining ourselves? Kids pick up on these things quickly, so before you remind the kiddos that complaining without a solution is whining, make sure you’ve course corrected yourself and try to implement problem solving on your own. You may want to encourage your family’s success with a No Whining Zone sign to remind everyone to keep things positive and solution-focused!
When it Comes to Complaining, Be the Change
Even if your honest self-review isn’t turning up many red flags, you can still use these tendencies of modeling and observation to your advantage. Pay attention to how often you or other people around you are problem-solvers vs. complainers. Point it out to them when you see problem-solvers. If your kids see more problem-solvers than whiners, they are much more likely to develop those life skills themselves and develop a word view of solutions and success.
The next time you find yourself in a situation where you’re about to complain, ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to change or fix the problem. If the answer is no, then go ahead and voice your complaint with no expectation of a reply – but do it quickly and move on. The goal is to avoid dwelling on the negative, which only creates more negativity.
If you notice that you’re usually bringing up and talking about things that are going wrong that you *can* change or fix, then take a deep breath and try to problem-solve instead. This is a fantastic opportunity to model good behavior for your kids, and to show them that there’s always a solution if you’re willing to search for it.
Here’s a parenting life hack: set yourself up. Find a real problem or create a fake one. Then point out the problem and immediately let your kids see you trying to solve it. Better yet, enlist their help to solve it. There’s nothing kids love more than to feel useful to adults, and yes…needed. Maybe you can solve two problems at once: turn a whiner into a problem-solver and give that kiddo a boost of well-earned self-confidence.
The world needs confident problem-solvers! Boost your child’s self-worth with books like I Am Good in My Heart by Belle Green.
When Your Kids Whine, Brainstorm Solutions
Maybe setting yourself up went wrong or didn’t quite work out as well as you’d hoped. Maybe you’re having trouble coming up with problems for them to help solve. No matter the reason, you might be in the position of working on some behavior modification with the whine-wielding little squirt.
Here are some inspirational points you can adopt to aid them in becoming more self-reliant problem solvers using whining as a catalyst for change:
Acknowledge your child’s feelings.
It’s not easy being a little kid. You have control over nothing and everyone is always telling you what to do. The world often doesn’t make sense. Frustration and confusion can easily lead to whining. Sometimes all it takes is for someone to listen and validate their feelings before they’re able to move on.
“You’re feeling frustrated because you don’t understand why we have to leave the park. I know, it’s hard when we have to stop doing something fun.”
Give them some space and time.
This is particularly effective with toddlers who haven’t yet learned how to use words to express their feelings. They just need some time to calm down and process what’s going on. Once they’re feeling better, they’ll be able to think more clearly and search for solutions. This Lily Tomlin quote applies to kids as well as adults here. For fast-acting relief, try slowing down!
Help them brainstorm solutions.
This is the key to helping kids learn how to problem-solve instead of whine. Once they’ve had a chance to calm down, sit down with them and talk through some possible solutions to the problem. If they’re struggling, give them some options to choose from.
“What do you think we could do? Is there something fun to do at home that you can look forward to? Is there some way we can make the drive home fun?”
If there are points in the day or a trigger that always makes your child whine, come up with some ways to give them a hand with brainstorming solutions in advance so you’ll be prepared.
Encourage them to problem-solve on their own.
The goal is to help your child become more independent and self-sufficient. As they get older, they should be able to handle more and more on their own. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still offer some assistance at points when they need it. Don’t forget that books are a good source of problem-solving inspiration, too!
“I can see you’re trying to figure this out on your own. Do you want some help or do you think you’ve got it?”
Praise their efforts.
It’s important to encourage and praise your child’s efforts, even if they don’t come up with the perfect resolution. They need to know that you see their hard work and that you’re proud of them. This point of view encourages kids to keep trying.
“Good job! I can tell you worked really hard to figure that out.”
Give them a chance to practice.
The more opportunities your child has to practice problem-solving, the better they’ll get at it. So when they do come up with a potential answer, give them a chance to try it out. And if it doesn’t work, that’s okay – wrong answers are still good efforts. They can always try again.
“That sounds like a great plan! Let’s try it and see how it goes.”
Encourage them to be persistent.
A quote I love from Oliver Goldsmith says, “Success consists of getting up just one more time than you fall.” Let them know that it’s okay to feel upset or frustrated, but they need to keep trying to find success. Persistence is a sign of those who become winners!
“I know you’re upset, but I know you can figure this out. Keep trying.”
Practice Makes Problem-Solver
With a little practice, your child will be a world class problem-solving pro in no time! And you might just discover that the whining starts to dwindle down, too. Put some of these tactics into play and see if you can really start living the world view that complaining without a solution is whining – so find some solutions!
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Word Nerd Bonus Quotes: Where Did That Saying Come From?
You might know that I’m a word nerd, and I love to search, ask questions, and investigate. I’m also a big fan of inspirational quotes. So when I came across quotes similar to “complaining without a solution is whining” I wanted to know where it came from originally. It appears to be a derivative of a quote from Theodore Roosevelt (he was also called Teddy, a nickname he didn’t care for). The original Roosevelt quote was more like this: Complaining about a problem without proposing a solution is called whining.
Now, Theodore Roosevelt was probably not talking about preschoolers and kindergarteners when he said this – he was talking to grown adults. If grown-ups have this problem, I think it’s fair to give the kiddos some space while they hash through it!
Want some more related quotes for an inspirational vibe? Here are a few of my favorites:
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”
“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”
“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”
What do all these quotes have in common? If you guessed that they’re all quotes from Theodore Roosevelt, give yourself 10 points! What awesome quotes can you use to encourage you and your family to keep a positive world view? Maybe you’ll find some in books like 365 Quotes to Live Your Life By!
Bye-Bye Whiner, a Pro Problem-Solver is in View!
I hope you find these quotes and all the above points to be as inspirational as I do! And I hope they give you some ammunition for your reply the next time your child comes to you with a problem.
Do you have an idea that’s not on this list? Email me and let me know! I can’t always reply to all my email messages, but I’ll try to incorporate it into points for parenting success in another blog post. (You can also email me awesome quotes – I don’t mind!)
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