Do All Things Without Grumbling or Complaining


Last week, in response to a post I wrote about raising helpful children, a commentor wrote to me asking “where did I go wrong?” She mentions that her children have chores, but complain about them every day. Of course, I can’t say what others should do with their children, but I can tell you that when we were experiencing similar problems with our children, the Godly advice of some older moms really went a long way in helping us to overcome these issues.  This is the advice I would like to share with you today, as well as some of our own experiences that worked for us in this area.

Raising children who don’t complain is, I believe, a multi-faceted subject. For instance, a child who grows up seeing work as drudgery will naturally resent it, as opposed to a child who grows up seeing work as something rewarding. I also believe that children will naturally complain more if they are taught that they should be treated “fairly.” When we allow our children to strive for equality in all things, and encourage their behavior by trying to be ‘fair,’ we cultivate in them a spirit of discontentment and covetousness (1).

So what are we modeling, as parents? Do we complain about our chores? Are we angry when someone treats us unfairly? Do we try to rush through our housework as quickly as possible so that we can go and do something else? Do we try to treat our children “fairly?” I admit that I’m often guilty of rushing through housework, and complaining about certain tasks. I am often guilty of being upset when I feel I’ve been treated unfairly by others. These attitudes will directly effect the way my children view work, and will ultimately go a long way in determining whether they will complain (either out loud, or in their hearts) about the responsibilities they are given.

As parents, we must remember that we are the only Bible our young children are currently reading. Our behavior speaks scripture into their lives. What we do, they will learn to do. The things we do not discipline them for will be seen as acceptable, and our attitudes will ultimately become their attitudes. Philippians 2:14 tells us to “do all things without grumbling or complaining.” Understanding that complaining is not just irritating or upsetting, but is actually sinful, will help us go a long way in how we address it.

In our home, complaining is no more allowed than lying or cursing. Each and every time a child complains, the behavior is dealt with immediately and we try to meet every undesirable behavior with an undesirable consequence. For instance, if a child is complaining about cleaning their room, they will be required to clean their brother’s room as well. If a child is complaining about getting the smallest cookie, that cookie will be taken away and given to someone else. If a child is complaining about the time it takes to complete a task because they are in a rush to go and play, they will not only complete the task, but will not be allowed to play afterward. Consequences can be as creative as your imagination will allow. The important thing is this: make every negative behavior counter productive. Children are smart. If you take away from them the very thing they are seeking to gain by their complaining, they will soon learn that it is not in their best interest to complain.

Another thing to remember is that complaining is an issue of the heart. Simply because a child may not say anything to express his complaint does not mean his heart is not full of resentment. We try to always discipline the emotion as well as the action. When our children are told to clean up their rooms, they may go straight to work without ever saying a word, but if the expression on their face speaks of resentment, it is dealt with.

1 Timothy 5:18 tells us “in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” When our children are outwardly complaining or inwardly resentful, they are stepping outside of God’s will. In the past (and I admit that we’ve been somewhat lax about this lately!) we asked our children to express thankfulness for the issue of their complaints. For instance, if our daughter was complaining about making the beds, we’d remind her of how blessed she is to have a bed and the opportunity to take care of her possessions and make her room beautiful. If our daughter was complaining about her dinner, we would ask her to thank God that she has enough to eat each day. A word of caution about this – an expression of thankfulness should NOT be a punishment! If you sense that your child is resentful of having to clean up her room, deal with the attitude before you ask her to pray. Help your child to understand that God wants her to have a thankful heart, and explain that you are helping her to develop it. Your child may not feel much like thanking God for her bed, but thankfulness is sometimes an act of the will and not of the emotion.

Lastly, and most importantly, when dealing with issues of the heart such as complaining, it is of the utmost importance that we are well connected with our children. Children who feel that they are truly loved by their parents want to do their best for them. A child who feels valued, appreciated, and needed by Mom and Dad is a child who wants to please. Children who are constantly rebelling against their parents are usually children who do not feel secure. In this situation, Mom becomes the adversary rather than the ally. If you are sensing this type of contention between you and your children, make sure you are working on your relationship with them. Take them fishing, take them to the park, cuddle with them, spend time with them, give them a project (to do with you.) Do whatever it takes to tie strings with your child because in the end, discipline without connection will only breed resentment. On the other hand, having a good connection with our children will take them further than any training or disciplinary method we employ.

“For love covers a multitude of sins.”

Are there any other Mom’s reading this who have overcome similar issues?  If so, I’d really appreciate your input. I know there is more that can be said on this subject, and “wisdom comes from many counselors.” Thanks!

*One last thought… In dealing with complaining, it’s important to pay attention to what our children are complaining about.  Jon and I have often found that our children’s complaints are legitimate, and they just need to be reminded of a proper way to address their concerns (without complaining.)  For instance, our child might be complaining because we’ve given her too much to do… it’s important that we give her the opportunity to tell us that, and adjust our request accordingly!  She might be complaining because she’s tired, and legitimately needs to rest.  It is always our desire to root out the heart of the complaint and work together to find a solution.

1.) More is written on this in my article “Fair is Where They Sell Pigs

Related Posts:

Helping Hands and Tying Heartstrings … raising helpful children

Helping Hands and Willing Hearts… more on raising helpful children

“Fair” is Where They Sill Pigs … why we don’t treat our children “fairly”

Works for Me Wednesday … tips from other bloggers



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19 Responses to Do All Things Without Grumbling or Complaining

  1. Mrs. C. says:

    Thank you for this post!! Though I do know all this, the way you laid it out had me applying it to my own life! I know what I do and say is soon reflected in the children’s behavior. One thing that helped me so much was when my husband reminded me of the second part of this verse:

    “The wise in heart shall be called prudent: and the sweetness of the lips increaseth learning.” Prov. 16:21

    When I start to become agitated because the children didn’t do what they should, my husband will call out to me, “Sweetness”, it not only melts me to hear him call me that, but it is a quick reminder that my words must be sweet if I want my children to learn! It helps me change my attitude & correctly train my children. God’s Word is so awesome!!

    • Rina says:

      Mrs. C., we have a code-word as well, but I really like yours better! It sounds like a term of endearment. :)
      “It Feels Like Chaos,” the day after I published this post, I was in a hurry to get some cleaning done before my husband came home and I was rushing the kids along, making a none too pleasant environment for them, when I suddenly realized what I was doing (making cleaning a miserable experience!) It’s definitely a process! :)
      Erika, we recently went through the whining over food issue and we started something similar with them. Each time I serve them a meal, I put a little bit of everything on their plate. Not enough to make them full, but enough so that they’re eating a few bites of everything I’m serving. If they want more of something they like, they must first eat the foods they don’t like. If they decide not to eat the foods they don’t like, it’s put in the refrigerator and at the next meal they’re required to finish eating the food from the previous meal before I serve them. It was rough for the first few days – they really held out! But now they’ve learned that it doesn’t do any good to leave food on their plates, and so they almost always eat what I give them the first time around. We do make some exceptions for especially hated foods, though. Peas, for instance, aren’t required for anyone! :)
      Lori, we have one of those children, too. We’ve found that consistency is key as well as bonding. I’ve noticed that when her behavior gets really difficult, it helps if I can spend some time (one-on-one) with her. I think that being the middle child she sometimes simply feels lost in the shuffle and acts out as a result. If you have any suggestions that have worked for your family, I’d love to hear them because we deal with this, too!

  2. Thank you for sharing this! I, too have consequenced complaining about a chore with being given another chore to complete also. But, your post has reminded me that I need to work on the complaining further. We are not doing our kids any favors if we let them grow up into people we can’t even stand to be around! Because guess what? Their future college roommates, employers, spouses, co-workers will also get tired of all the complaining. I think whining also falls in this category. When my daughter starts that I send her to her room until she can talk in a nice voice. That frees me from having to listen to it and gives her a negative result for that undesirable behavior.

  3. Erika says:

    What a fantastic and well-thought out post! I love the ways you deal with the complaining, and that is something I’ve been working on with my son lately. He’s taken to complaining about what he has to eat- I swear, he just gets in these moods. Finally, the other day, I decided I was tired of his complaining, and when he started to complain about what I was preparing, I stopped assembling lunch, told him that if he was going to complain, then he could just not have lunch today, and I walked away. Lol. I went and sat at the computer and got busy doing something- I can’t imagine the thoughts that went through his head, but a few minutes later he followed me in, crawled onto my lap and told me that after thinking about it, he thought my lunch sounded like just what he wanted. I made him his lunch, and he cleaned his plate- which in itself is unheard of.

    I had to do something similar last night, but I’m hoping we’re at a turning point here.

    I think the big thing for us is that if we don’t want our children to complain, we need to not complain ourselves. Sometimes modeling that behavior is easier said than done, but I think it really helps everyone to tackle the chores and whatnot with joy instead of drudgery.

  4. lori says:

    Great post! We have four kids and we haven’t had much issue with 1, 3, and 4. BUT #2, oh my! Everything about this child has been difficult from the time she was a baby and she is now 5. Eating, sleeping, potty training, obedience, being teachable, etc. She is very, very sweet and helpful much of the time, but she can really turn it around.

    I was in the middle of dealing with her bad attitude about lunch when I started reading your post. Thanks for some very timely pointers in how to deal with her!

    I checked out a book from the library just this morning in the hopes of cultivating some thankfulness in her. It’s called “Hungry Planet” by Peter Menzel and it is full of pictures of what people all around the world eat. I’m hoping that her cheese pizza I made for lunch will look really good after seeing what many children have to eat.

    Anyway, I’ve enjoyed your blog for awhile now and will continue to glean what I can! Thanks! Lori =)

  5. momstheword says:

    What a wonderful post. You are so right. You absolutely want to tie those apron strings and use every opportunity to instill and teach your child.

    We used to have certain character traits that we would work on. Whatever we felt needed work. We used chores to teach a work ethic to our children. We also did not allow complaining and had to work with them on that.

    The hard thing is to remember to be consistent but God is faithful to help!

    • Rina says:

      Momstheword, consistnecy is the most difficult thing for us, too! I’m going to be linking to this article on Sunday, but I thought I’d write it here, too… Mrs. Parunak has an excellent article on her site that really gets to the heart of the matter. It can be found Here.

  6. Mrs. Parunak says:

    Oh, yes, complaining! I really need to work on that one. I like your way of dealing with it. It’s very creative.

  7. Jerri says:

    Rina, you did a very good job with this subject! And may I say that is an adorable picture at top of the article!

    • Rina says:

      Jerri, thank you! That was my first experiment using lightroom (the photo editing program) and I thought it turned out really well!
      Jenny, I didn’t see that you had a blog listed. I’d love to read your posts, if you’d send the link?
      Laura, that’s a great idea! We do that with other things, but I hadn’t considered doing it with food.
      Thank you, Jennifer.
      Wani, I’m glad it was helpful.

  8. jenuinejen says:

    This is a very good post. I really cannot tell you how much I like it. My WFMW is a new series about surviving financial crisis and the lessons my husband and I have learned.

    He and I have learned to be thankful and find blessings in the smallest thing. Our children do complain when they are asked to do things. But, you are right, we are not setting the best example for them. We try but we do not succeed all the time. I am going to remember you advice and focus more on not complaining as I focus on finding things to be grateful.

  9. Laura says:

    Thanks for the helpful reminders! We also only give our children a little bit of each of the things being served at a meal, but our rule is that if they complain about a food, they get more. It doesn’t happen very often anymore. :)

  10. Jennifer R. says:

    What wonderful, practical advice! Thank you for sharing!

  11. Wani says:

    wow… you picked the perfect day to post this! My 3.5yr old has become a whiner. We are working on it and it has improved some but its a process. We are already doing some of the things you mentioned but there were a few things that I hadn’t thought of and will definitely use in the future. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Fantastic! Thank you for the VERY timely post…I have 5 children, 4 of whom have been struggling in this area. Thank you for pointing out how our actions & attitudes as parents are vital to training our children.
    I have a head knowledge of this concept of training on complaining, but have greatly slacked in my dealing with the behavior. Thanks!

  13. thejoythejourneythejob says:

    Thank you for posting this! We discipline in a very similar way, however, lately we have become lax and it is most definitely being seen in my childrens’ behaviors and attitudes. My example hasn’t been the best for them lately either, thank you for this simple reminder! God Bless, Brandi

    • Rina says:

      Brandi, I’m glad it was helpful. I must admit that our own consistency sometimes waxes and wanes… I wrote here about what we do RIGHT. There’s plenty we still need to work on. :)

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