Is a Bad Attitude Nanny Dragging You Down?

How to Cope With Nannies That Complain Too Much

People that gossip and complain too much drag us down. No one wants to listen to a friend complain all the time.

In his book, Coping with Difficult People, Robert M. Bramson describes how complainers think and how to cope with them.

He explains, “Complainers don’t feel they are whining. From the inside, complaining is an effort…to warn about a thing gone wrong that someone else must fix. When their behavior is pointed out to a Complainer, it is most often met with a lack of comprehension about what is meant and an insistence that the problems are really and not imagined.”

Bramson explains that complainers view themselves as powerless, prescriptive, and perfect.

Complainers feel powerless in the management of their own lives, as if the causes of all that happens to them lie outside their grasp.

Complainers have an image of the way things ought to be and a galling sense of injustice that they are not that way.

Complainers believe (to themselves) that they are blameless, innocent, and morally perfect.

Here are Bramson’s recommendations on how to cope with a complainer:

“The key to successfully coping with complainers is to break their self-confirming cycle of passivity, blaming others, and powerlessness, and to insist that a problem-solving perspective be taken toward their complaints.”

Listen Attentively
1. People complain to let-off-steam. Putting problems into words provides a release for frustration.
2. Being heard can lessen that sense of being dismissed or powerless which will lead to more complaining.
3. Listening provides information that you will need to carry out the next coping step.
4. By listening attentively you may discover that the person who is complaining to you is merely looking for a sympathetic ear and is not a Complainer after all.

The second coping step is to let the Complainer know you have understood what they have said to you, that you know how they feel, and that you take them seriously.

Be Prepared to Interrupt
To acknowledge, you may have to interrupt. Once you have discovered the gist of their complaints, stop them, as politely as you can, but firmly. Complainers can talk forever if you don’t curb their rants.

Don’t Agree
If acknowledgment is useful, agreement is not. Acknowledgment conveys understanding while agreement confirms to the Complainer that you (or the person they complain about) are responsible for the problem.

Switch to Problem Solving
Bramson suggests, “After acknowledging, but not agreeing with, the Complainer’s gripes, it is important to move as quickly as you can into problem solving…Problem solving focuses on what’s to be done to make things better in the future. Complaining, on the other hand, reminisces about the history of a problem and assigns blame.”

Finally, we want you to remember that you are not a therapist! You are a friend! As a caring friend, if someone is too negative or their problems are too complex, you might need to suggest they seek professional help. For example, a symptom of clinical depression includes negative thinking and thinking others’ comments are negative, even when their comments weren’t intended to be criticism.


  1. This is timely for me. Just this weekend my husband was reminding me that the only people I have to make happy at my job are my mom boss, dad boss and their kids. I've always had jobs where I got along with other nannies but this job is a struggle. Most of the nannies in town just complain. They don't want to work. They watch soap operas while the kids play video games and watch tv. They are trying to drag me down with them constantly asking me why I don't do more with them. Thanks for this article. It says what my husband has been telling me. Needed that inspiration.

  2. Good points. You really do have to surrond yourself with positive people. I have to hang out with people I don't like for playdates but I try to hang out with positive people that love kids too.

  3. Great advice for anyone in any profession. Pick your friends wisely. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. This is one of my friends. I think her complaints are true but the points made in your article are exactly what's happening to her. Whenever our friends suggest how to improve she never changes anything. But all she can do is try to make the changes. If she doesn't speak up to her boss it can never change since the boss doesn't know how she feels…

  5. As I think of the headline question. I am reminded of advice I was given in college, and how I did let it carry over into being a nanny. I was told not to hang around people in the profession (theater) too much but to have different interests, outlets, and other circles of friends to keep everything more in balance.I have always been like that as a nanny. There have been some times in past jobs where I was taking on some monumental things. For me it was hard to hear nannies complain thinking their problems weren't that bad, and I really either couldn't talk about why things were bad for me, or didn't want to because I needed a break from the situation.

  6. Having a positive attitude is an important quality, for nannies as well as for other professionals, and affects the well being of all surrounding people.This us why one of the personality traits we assess in our NannyTest is positive attitude.

  7. Such a great article you think of everything!

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