Teenagers look to the adults in their lives to learn how to behave, act and learn cultural norms. They also have the tendency to want to raise the bar, but not exactly in the way you might be thinking, hoping or expecting.
Sound good? Well I hope you keep reading because you might not like what I am about to say next.
If you want your teenager to not whine, I have a simple solution for you. Stop your whining.
Stop whining about your teenager, your spouse, your co-workers, politics, the weather and what ever else you habitually whine about. Your teenager’s whining might not sound and look like your whining. In fact they are probably better at it than you are. Perhaps they are louder, more frequent, more persistent, and can do the whole body posture and eye roll whining really well.
As long as you continue to whine, they will continue. In fact the more you whine and try to get them to stop whining, the more you are modeling for them to whine louder, more often and more vigorously.
How do you stop this sometimes vicious cycle?
First stop and begin observing yourself. Pay attention to what you say and how you say it. Notice when you are whining and stop. If the habit is deeply ingrained it may take time, but it will be worth the effort. You will become a more pleasant person to be around.
When you have had some success and continue to progress, then you can begin to talk to your teen in a new and different way. First honestly and openly let them know that you have been working to curb your own whining. Tell them why – because it’s obnoxious, disrespectful and doesn’t really help create any meaningful change (yes, that’s as true about your whining as it is about theirs) and people don’t enjoy being around those who whine.
Then suggest if something or someone is bothering them to have a conversation about it. Decide if there is anything that can be done about the offending person or circumstance and if not then talk about ways to reframe the situation and react in a more positive way. A more positive way might simply be to be quiet, take a deep breath and let it be. Move on.
You may have heard this saying “Be the change you want to see.” This is especially true when it comes to parenting and teenage behavior.