Tips for Managing Children's Complaints

Growing up with complaints as a common strategy predisposes children to negativity and helplessness. Find out how to prevent this from happening.
Tips for Managing Children's Complaints
Elena Sanz Martín

Written and verified by the psychologist Elena Sanz Martín.

Last update: 27 December, 2022

Everyone, both adults and children, complain at some point. We have a right to express our discontent or claim injustice. However, when our children complain all the time, our homes become a negative environment, and this hurts the children the most. Want to know how to handle children’s complaints? Read on.

Repressing emotions isn’t healthy. We need to teach our kids how to cope with their negative feelings. Therefore, complaining might be a relief when expressed at specific times.

However, when it becomes an ingrained attitude, it has serious consequences. To avoid this, it’s important to work with our children from a very young age.

Children’s complaints: Complaining is a part of life

Complaining is normal at all stages of life. At a very young age, babies can only express their disgust or discomfort by crying; later, children may resort to tantrums or aggressive behavior. In any case, this corresponds to a lack of resources for them to understand and adequately express their feelings.

Tips for Managing Children's Complaints

When little ones hit puberty, their complaining and situations that they claim are unfair will increase. And, at this stage, they’ll have the ability to express their opinions in a more mature way.

However, it’s important to know that the point isn’t to ban complaining, but to channel it. It’s positive that our children have the confidence to express disagreement, give their opinion, and show their emotions. In addition, complaining can help us understand how they feel and what they need. However, when children become accustomed to using it too often, they’ll develop a really harmful habit.

How does complaining affect children?

When small children see complaining as a common strategy, they’re predisposed to detect every event, detail and negative circumstance of their life. They lose the ability to appreciate the gifts and benefits surrounding them and see themselves as victims. This greatly diminishes their self-esteem, confidence and happiness, and they close the possibility of developing more useful coping skills.

Complaining continuously will make them feel helpless in the face of life and unable to change their circumstances. Ultimately, complaining is a sign of intolerance to frustration. In addition, this can generate family frictions and disrupt the home environment.

Even minors may use this widespread protest as a means of manipulating adults or evading their responsibility. It’s also important that we provide them with more positive attitudes and tools.

Tips for managing children’s complaints

  • Be an example. We must be careful with our own tendency to complain and feel victimized when something happens to us. Let’s remember that children imitate what they see, so try to be an example of trust, calm and resolute ability.
  • Avoid giving in to your child’s complaints, especially if they’re meant to manipulate you in any way. As parents, we must be clear about the limits we want to mark and stand firm before them. If the claim leads us to change our minds in favor of the child’s wishes, we lose authority and reinforce this behavior.
Tips for Managing Children's Complaints
  • Teaching young people to communicate assertively is imperative. If the child feels dissatisfied, the solution isn’t to ignore them, but to help them express it appropriately. To do this, let’s try to ask them to calm down and express themselves without crying or aggressive behavior; and only then will we attend to them and help them.
  • Try to encourage a positive and resolute attitude. We accompany the child in the process of thinking about possible solutions to what bothers or dislikes them. Complaining is based on negative emotions and helplessness, so putting your problem-solving skills into action will help them move forward and increase self-confidence.

Attitude is forged from childhood

In short, let’s not forget that children are a blank canvas that can be molded depending on how they’re raised. So, if you’ve noticed that your child complains a lot, it’s important to act on it. Instilling a positive and resilient mindset, as well as an ability to tolerate frustration, express themselves appropriately and find solutions is the best gift you can give your child.


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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.