Let’s face it, “No” gets a reaction. Kids thrive on the connection they have with you, and if a child is always negative, they will usually get a reaction from their parents. As odd as it sounds, sometimes the negativity spewing from your child’s lips is not meant to sound as bad as it does. She may simply want contact with you, albeit negative contact. When your child is a constant complainer, it can be emotionally exhausting. Your negative child may also be loving, funny, and sweet, but unfortunately her negative attitude stands out because it’s such an energy drainer. What’s worse, your mind starts “futurizing” and jumps to every worst case scenario.

So where does all the complaining come from? If your child is in her teen years, adolescence may be the culprit. When she was young she might have been enthusiastic about everything. You’d hear her say, “Mom look at this! Wow, it’s so cool. I love it!” Then adolescence arrives and it becomes way too uncool to be enthusiastic, especially with your parents. Sharing her inner feelings means opening herself up to you—and that is probably exactly the opposite of what she wants to do at this point in her life. Pushing you out is the name of the game. And let’s not forget that you and your family are the safe haven where all stresses of childhood can land. She may not tell you about her awful day at school, but instead complain that the food you cooked tastes awful. Yes, this is unpleasant, but remember, don’t take it personally—this could be a coping skill your child is employing

As strange as it sounds, negativity and complaining are actually ways to manage anxiety. When your child complains, she feels better because she’s expressing himself and venting her worries and fears. If you don’t react to it from your own anxiety, your child will move on.