Another reader question (We won’t complain!):
How does your family deal with incessant complaining? My middle child, age five, is lacking in optimism. In fact, there is rarely anything that escapes her lips that isn’t either negative or a complaint.
I heard myself saying the other day, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!” HA! Who’d have thought I’d ever utter THAT statement?!
But I’m torn. Part of me wants to tell her over and over again: Keep it in, if all you have to say is negative. Still another part of me knows how unhealthy it is to bottle up your feelings and emotions. She should be able to tell ME, of all people, how she feels.
I’ve thought, perhaps I should have her say two positives for every negative. But as we’ve tried that every now and again, it turns into “I don’t knoooooooow what to saaaaaaay. I caaaaaaaaan’t think of aaaanything.” We’ll give suggestions like “Well isn’t it great that we have a snuggly warm bed when it’s so cold outside” to which she’d reply sulkily, “Yes… I guess so. But …” followed by more negativity.
I can’t help but wonder… Is something CAUSING this? Could it be a form of childhood depression? I’d like to think this girl has got it pretty good! But who knows?
Any thoughts or suggestions would be welcome!
When kids become unpleasant, how do you offer them emotional acceptance while still encouraging them to be their better selves?