Parenthood is one of the most challenging and fulfilling experiences you’ll ever have. It involves taking the good with the bad and teaching your children how to handle physical and emotional situations in their lives. At some point in your parenting experience, your kids will try your patience and sanity with their antics and grumpy behavior.
Grumpiness is one of those behaviors that drive parents crazy. Grumpy kids can upset an entire household. Understanding the whys and wherefores of grumpiness can give you a better idea of how to tackle the problem. Everyone gets grumpy from time to time – it’s not just a child or teen issue. If your kids are more sulky than not, however, it’s time to do something about it.
Understanding the grumpy kid
Most people would define grumpy as being bad tempered, irritable, or sulky. Kids act this way for various reasons. They may have had an argument with a friend or received a low grade on an exam that put them in a bad mood. Disappointments in life can easily affect a child’s temperament.
Some children simply have a grumpy disposition or have developed a bad habit of grumbling and complaining for no valid reason. Their grumpiness is evident by their crabby nature when interacting with others. Grumpiness that’s caused by outside influences can be easier to handle than a child with a grumpy disposition. Some children are only sulky at home, which can be even more frustrating for parents who do their best to provide their kids with a happy home environment.
In dealing with grumpiness, parents should look for better ways to help their children manage their emotions. As your children grow, they will face disappointments and frustrations in life that will affect them emotionally. Grumpy behavior, however, doesn’t resolve the problem. By teaching your school-age kids to “see the good” in negative circumstances, you help them face problems in a more positive manner.
Understanding the reason for grumpiness
Understanding the root cause of grumpiness can help in dealing with the problem. Whether you’re faced with a grumpy baby or irritable children or teens, try to find the root of the problem. To do so, you’ll need to spend time with your kids so you’re aware of what’s happening in their lives.
Many school age children lead busy, active lives. In addition to school work, they often have home chores to fulfill and are involved in extra-curricular activities such as sports or outside classes. By the end of the day, your kids may return home in a grumpy mood simply out of exhaustion.
If your kids are often irritable after school, check out these possible causes:
- Tiredness – due to insufficient sleep or trying to fit too much into their schedule
- Hunger – your kids may need extra snacks to keep up with their ravenous appetite
- Frustration – due to not doing well at school or not getting along with teachers and peers
- Anger – due to having to fulfill (what they consider) too many responsibilities
- Disappointment – for not doing better in sports, music, art or whatever their passion is
- Fear – due to bullying or insecurities
Although there are many causes for grumpy behavior, these are some of the most common. By identifying the cause of your child’s grumpiness, you can start looking for solutions. A grumpy baby may need a change in schedule or a more peaceful environment. Grumpy children and teens may need personal attention, encouragement and love. Your kids will appreciate whatever efforts you make to help restore their happiness and joy.
Everyone has their good days and bad days, and children are no exception. As a parent, you can use your personal experience to teach your kids how to handle the ups and downs of life in more productive ways than sulking.
Tips for Dealing with Grumpy Behavior
Children (and teens) often communicate their ill feelings and frustrations through pouting, grumbling and whining. Your reaction to your kids’ behavior will, in part, determine how long this behavior continues around the home. Older children and teens should be able to use more productive ways to express their frustrations. If not, you may need to work on this area of their lives. Here are some tips to get you started:
Encourage Your Kids to Express Their Views
Grumpy behavior could be the result of your kids not feeling comfortable expressing their views in the home environment. You can change this by giving your kids opportunities to express how they feel in a calm, composed manner, without criticizing or hurting others. Open communication can often help alleviate irritable, moody behavior as it gives kids the chance to air their frustrations. By encouraging your kids to openly share their thoughts and feelings, you also help strengthen their communications skills for the future.
Don’t Overact to Sulky Behavior
Many parents make the mistake of overreacting to sulky, grumbling behavior. This could lead to giving in to your kids’ demands, if you are the cause of their irritation. It’s important that you take time to discuss your children’s feelings and see if you can come up with mutual solutions to resolve your kids’ problems.
If your tween or teen is sulking due to having to comply with home rules or restrictions, discuss alternative options without compromising your convictions. Your efforts may not be successful, but at least your children see you are willing to listen to their point of view. If you can’t come to terms, you may just have to ignore their behavior rather than give in to their huffy attitudes.
Look for Ways to Reduce Whining
Whining can be extremely annoying, especially when it becomes a habit. Children who don’t know how to express themselves in any other way often resort to whining. Smart parents will find ways to curtail whining before it becomes a natural part of their kids’ lives. Here are a few ideas for reducing whiny behavior:
- Complaint Time: Some parents give their children a certain amount of time (10-15 minutes) each day to voice their complaints and be heard. After listening to your child, you can decide if there is any merit to his complaining and see how to resolve the problem. Regardless of the outcome, children are not allowed to be grumpy or whiny for the rest of the day.
- Complaint Journal: Have your kids start a complaint journal where he or she can write down his or her grievances and complaints instead of being grumpy. This makes extra work for your child, which may kill the whining habit right there.
- Rewards: Reward your children when they don’t resort to whining to get what they want. Whining is a habit that children cultivate to express their discontent or get their own way. By ignoring grumpy behavior and rewarding good behavior, you send the message that whining won’t work on their behalf.
Uphold a United Parenting Standard
Sometimes children behave better at school than they do at home. This could be because teachers don’t respond to their irritable behavior the same way as one or both parents do at home. Effective parenting requires that both parents agree on a behavior standard and uphold it. If one parent is permissive and the other is strict, there will be a double standard in how parents run the household.
Children are very good at discerning when a parent is lenient and they will use this weakness to undermine home rules and get their own way. By being united in your parenting efforts, your children will learn that their errant behavior will not get them what they want. They’ll also have greater respect for you and your parental authority.
By looking for ways to cure the grumpy kid, parents help their kids mature and grow while restoring peace and happiness to their home.