Do you often have to listen to young athletes who complain?
As a parent, one of the most annoying moods to put up with is that of a whining child. It used to drive me crazy, but it’s the source of the whining that should be the most bothersome for parents.
When your child whines, he or she is basically saying, “I’m not happy and you need to fix it.”
“Take care of me, ” their whining says. “I’m not willing to change this situation or myself, but I sure can complain about it!”
It’s easy to fall into the trap of responding with frustration and anger to a complainer. That’s because we usually allow it to go on and on and on until we can’t take it any more and then we snap.
Sometimes our “snapping” is lashing out in anger, sometimes it’s angrily agreeing to do something to “fix” the problem.
In either case, your child is not getting anything good from the situation; they are only learning to complain more.
So what do you do when your child comes home after practices or games and moans about the coach, a teammate, what position he or she plays or the amount of playing time they have?
There’s probably no way to totally eradicate complaining in your child, but here’s some healthy ways to handle it when it rears its ugly head:
Seek to Understand Athletes Who Complain
Your first instinct should be to hear your young athlete out. Let them vent and let them know that you are listening and really hearing them. If you feel you need some more understanding of the situation, ask them questions like, “what exactly was it about this situation that frustrated you so much?” Or “How did this situation make you feel?”
Your goal in this first step is to try to discern what’s really going on. And that usually takes more listening than talking.
Once your child explains the problem, then it’s time to help them think of solutions. Ask THEM what they think they should do. If you get an “I don’t Know”, then rephrase the question. Here’s a couple of ways to ask: What would you like the outcome of this situation to be? Who else can you talk to for help with this issue? What are some possible ways to improve this situation? What is one thing you can do to make that happen?
The idea is to have them process it and think of their own resolutions. If that happens, the chances are much better that they will follow through and take action.
Tune Out Repeat Offenses
When your child comes home one time and complains, it’s easy to excuse their need to vent. But the problem comes when your child does this over and over. When they come home several times a week whining about this or that in the game or practice, and they don’t let up, what should you do then?
If you’ve already sought to understand and discussed options with them, what’s the next step?
There were days when I just chose to ignore the whining and if you can do that and remain calm, not letting it bother you, then maybe, just maybe they will get the hint that whining does no good.
But there were also days when I’d had enough and I finally said, “I understand you are frustrated, but we’ve talked about what you can do in this situation. If you aren’t going to do anything about it, I don’t want to hear you complain.” Basically, you firmly and lovingly shut them down. They may keep on moaning and groaning, but at this point, you have let them know that you are no longer listening to them.
Secretly, they are still hoping that you will do something to fix the situation. And quite honestly, they may not even know what “fixing it” means, they just know that they are unhappy and they want someone to do something to make it better!
Kids continue whining because it gets a response. They’re pretty smart and they know a good thing when it works.
You can help them get out of the bad habit of whining and complaining by following these three steps. Please hear me: it’s not going to be easy and it probably won’t be quick. You have to stick to your guns, and understand that their growth and maturity is a long process. Consistency is the million dollar word in parenting. And it’s a word that will help your young athlete learn to deal with adversity throughout this season and the rest of their life.
Is your child going through a rough patch of whining? I’m a life coach for sports parents and I can help you figure out how to resolve this problem. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org