If you hear your child frequently complain or grumble, you are hearing a child who is becoming a slave to his own desires. This means trouble.
Sin feeds on the desire for immediate happiness. That is why a child can go from seeming bliss to outrage in an eye blink. One moment everything is fine. Then he sees his brother with a toy that he wants and he immediately erupts with a howl that sounds like he is being tortured. Why? Because he doesn’t have what he wants, what he thinks he deserves.
God wants his people to live a life of praise. Complaining and grumbling are not compatible with praise. The Bible teaches that God is a faithful God who does no wrong, who is always to be praised. (Deuteronomy 32:3-5; Philippians 2:14-15) If God is always faithful, there is no room for grumbling and complaining.
Complaining is the opposite of praise. Praise is being aware of and motivated by God’s constant goodness and grace. Telling a child to stop complaining will not stop the advance of this corrosive sin. Only praise and gratitude to God for his faithfulness can do that. Your focus as a parent is teaching your children to replace complaining with praise.
We are commanded to praise because if we do not praise we revert to our natural desires, we complain. Here is a challenging question. Do your kids hear you complain about them more than they hear you praising God?
You must teach your children to praise. Just as you teach your child not to yell or to put others first or to come quickly when called you must also teach them praise. Do you regularly praise God for a safe trip to the store or for sleep? You must teach by example as well as by word. Praise is not natural for your children.
You do not know when God will work in your child’s heart to turn his obedience to you into the genuine obedience that comes from a new heart. In faithfulness you must lovingly encourage all that God has commanded, trusting that he will use these confrontations to bring your child to Christ.