It can be frustrating for parents to see their kids always complaining, no matter how much they provide for them. But let me tell you that kids often do this; this behavior is pretty common in young kids.
Here we are talking about 4-year-olds who are never satisfied. Typically, it is a developmental phase because your kids are still learning. But there are a few other reasons that will make your little one “a complaining being.”
In this article, we will talk about why would a 4-year-old be always dissatisfied and how to make him more grateful?
Why is your 4-year-old never satisfied?
4-year-olds are at the stage of life where they are still learning what they want from their surroundings. Some emotions are still undiscovered, but they can understand the concept of desire. They would like everything they see around them, whether from the grocery store or a toy shop.
For example, if you look into your desire in adulthood, don’t you want every other thing on the supermarket shelves when you walk through them? The same is with kids. They will always want new things but don’t know what they need and what not. So when they don’t get the desired thing, they feel frustrated and unsatisfied.
Besides the age factor, a few more major factors could make your 4-year-old never satisfied:
1- Having too much stuff:
Children become ungrateful when they have all the desired new stuff every now and then. Having a lot of stuff will make them lose the charm of new things. They are less likely to be thankful for what they have because they don’t see getting new things as a hardship.
Some parents cannot say “No” to their children when they throw a tantrum to have new things. So, eventually, kids lose the charm of getting more stuff.
2- They always see their parents complaining:
Children learn a lot from their elders, so if you, as a parent, always complain about life and its complexities, your child will automatically learn to nag even if they have a good life.
3- Parents are never happy with their children:
Some parents show a lot of negativity regarding their children. As a result, they never feel satisfied with their children, even with small things.
Sentences like, “You never listen to me” and “you never do things right”; will put the children under stress, and they will stay dissatisfied with themselves.
They will also reflect on the behavior by saying these negative things to you, like “you never get me good toys,” “you never let me watch TV,” and “you never listen to what I say.”
So, look for this. Is your 4-year-old is reflecting on what you say to them?
4- They don’t get the independence to choose anything for themselves:
Sometimes, kids get frustrated or unsatisfied when they cannot choose anything for themselves. This happens when the parents are either very strict or way too possessive of their children.
What NOT TO DO when your 4-year-old is never satisfied:
If you want to make your 4-year-old more satisfied with his belongings, avoid these things:
1- Never compare:
Rule number 1 is never to compare your child with anyone. Whether he is dull in his studies or has behavioral issues, never compare your child even with his siblings.
In case of an unsatisfied child, don’t say things like “ See, that kid never complains about anything” or “ See how grateful that kid is and never nag about anything.”
Comparing with other kids will make put your little one under stress, and he may even start to become jealous of the other kid (with whom he is being compared).
2- Don’t always lecture, and don’t compare your child’s life with your own life:
Some parents have a habit of giving examples of their life. They constantly say things like, “ you are privileged to have such things,” “ we never had such facilities and things you have right now,” or “ When I was your age, I never complained about anything.” Unfortunately, these examples won’t help much, and the child will never understand.
As a parent, you must understand that the world changes with each generation. Likes, dislikes, preferences of people, and available facilities change with time. So there is no point in comparing your kid with your own childhood.
3- Limit the examples you give of others who don’t get a lot of things:
You can sometimes tell your child about others who don’t get many things, but giving the example of such people each and every time will lose its effectiveness. Your child will take this example lightly, which won’t help overcome his unsatisfied behavior.
What to do and what to say?
Here’s what to do and say when your 4-year-old is never satisfied.
1- First of all, show more gratitude by yourself:
Kids usually follow their parents and family members who live with them. So set examples of being grateful for what you have in your life and struggle more if you want to change something, but if you have a habit of complaining and nagging about life, your child will definitely follow in your footsteps.
2- Allow your child to express his emotions and handle them:
Children who do not know how to handle rejection or negative situations may react badly. But as parents, we have to confront negativity with positivity.
So when your child complains or shows dissatisfaction, listen to him and allow him to express what bothers him. Do not try to shut down his expression.
Calmly listen to him and ask him questions about his feeling. Encourage him to ask questions, for example, say, “Do you want to know why you feel this way? Ask me why?”
Twist the situation and make your 4-year-old ask questions, and then answer those questions positively.
3- Tell him to be grateful for what he has:
You must explicitly ask your 4-year-old to be grateful. Make him count the things that he has.
Take them to their room and ask them to count everything that they have. It will help your 4-year-old to realize the blessings they have.
4- Promote optimistic thinking:
Promoting optimistic thinking will teach your child to see every situation’s positive side.
For example, you can play the “Unfortunately/ fortunately” game with him, where you can make small cards with some unfortunate situations, mix the cards and ask your child to pick one card. Then, read out the unfortunate situation.
Suppose the card says, “ I went to the library, and I didn’t get the book I wanted; it was taken.” Now ask the child to change this situation into a fortunate one, like “ I went to the library and didn’t get the book I was looking for, but fortunately, I found another book which I found interesting.
5- Reduce shopping:
If you are found buying new things for your child now and then, it will only raise their expectations, and they will act up if you miss buying new stuff for them. So slowly and gradually reduce the shopping for some time, and if the child complains, explain to him that you cannot always get him new stuff.
6- Set dates to bring gifts:
It’s good that you can afford to give your child as many things as you want, but this will only make them take the things for granted and not know their value. So instead, make them wait for something they wished for so that they can realize the importance of it.
For example, “I will get this thing for your birthday”, or “You will get a new pack of slime next Friday.”
Waiting for something increases its value.
7- Set boundaries:
4-year-olds are at the stage of life where they need a structured routine to discipline them for the rest of their life. So when you set clear boundaries and expectations from an early age, they will know what you expect from them and what they can expect from you.
8- Offer choices:
Offering choices to a 4-year-old child helps him feel more in control and satisfied with what they select for himself. So give them options when they seem unsatisfied; for example, let them choose between small things like what they want to wear or what they want for dinner, or which park they want to go to this weekend, Etc.
9- Praise and encouragement are a must:
Young kids love to have encouragement and praise, and it helps them feel good about themselves. When the child feels good about himself, he automatically feels satisfied with what he has.
10- Roll over the toys:
Let them play with some toys and hide others, then give them the hidden toys after some time and take back the old ones. Children get bored of playing with similar toys. This way, they will enjoy the new set of rotated toys every time they play.
11- Get them age-appropriate things:
Make sure you are getting your child his age-appropriate stuff. For example, 4-year-olds usually like pretend and play toys. Games like puzzles and wooden educational toys can also be good options.
If you are buying a lot of irrelevant stuff, your little one will become fed up sooner.
12- Avoid pocket money at this age:
4 years of age is not appropriate for pocket money, and children don’t get the concept of “How much money to spend on what” at age 4. When they have money, they will just want to buy everything.
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13- Get them story book about being grateful and thankfulness:
Storybooks prove to be the best option for 4-year-olds. At this age, kids take them seriously. They listen to stories very carefully.
So, take this as an advantage and get a good storybook collection for your 4-year-old that can teach him good life lessons.
Gratitude is My Superpower by Alicia Ortego is what you need to teach gratitude to your child. With the help of this book, you can teach your child about the blessing he receives every day. After reading this book, you see that he will begin to appreciate what others do for him. Most of all, he will realize he has everything he needs without asking for it.
Bear says thanks by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman is an illustrative story of a bear and his forest friends. The bear wants to throw a party but doesn’t have anything in his cupboard, but his trustworthy pals come to the rescue and offer a lot for the feast. The bear felt happy and thankful for their gesture. This story promotes thanking behavior in children when someone does something for them.
My Attitude of Gratitude by Melissa Winn is a story of a grandma and her grandson; she teaches him how to cope with unfulfilled desires by making a jar in which the grandson puts small reminders every night of everything he was grateful for during the day.
This book will teach the children how to be grateful for every blessing of God.
The Giving Snowan by Julia Zheng is a fantastic Christmas story that teaches kids how to return kindness to the one who helped them in a bad time. This story of a snowman who helped a bird, rabbit, farmer, and traveler on a snowy night melted in the morning, and that’s when the bird, rabbit, farmer, and traveler rebuilt him to show kindness and gratitude.
The Things I’m Grateful for by Arnie lighting has a series of five short stories which is helpful to teach little kids about being thankful for whatever they have. Every story has a lesson and moral, which makes it more interesting for the kids.
Get your child a gratitude journal:
Keeping a gratitude journal for your 4-year-old will help a lot. Try it, you won’t regret it.
Every night, before your 4-year-old go to sleep, fill out his daily journal and write somethings that he enjoyed that day.
The things people think before falling to sleep, have a long-lasting effect on the thinking. So, a gratitude journal will remind them of their blessings every night and the feeling of dissatisfaction will gradually fade.
My first Gratitude journal by creative journal for kids is best for a 4-year-old to practice gratitude. The pages in this journal are easy to understand, and cherry on top, it has a drawing section on half of every page so that the child can write and draw for what they are grateful. The parents can initially help children to fill one page every day. Then, paste a sticker to encourage them to be thankful for what they have.
The parenting book I recommend:
Other than storybooks and journals, you can also try a parenting book that can teach you how to raise grateful kids.
I recommend the following:
The Me, Me, Me Epidemic by Amy McCready is a step-by-step guide to raising capable, grateful kids in an over-entitled world. This book has a solution to help kids develop healthy behavior. It has proven strategies to raise confidence, booming, responsible, and good decision-maker children. I highly recommend this book to read as a parent. It’s an absolute eye-opener.