Despite what I was told and reported in my previous newsletter, Jane Nelsen, distinguished psychologist, educator, and mother of seven, is alive and well.
One of the child behaviours that drives parents wild is whining and in the summer when the kids are around all day it’s even more annoying.
So let’s take a look at why they whine and what you can do about it.
Why kids whine.
M-o-m-m-m, I want a candy. Pl-e-e-e-a-s-e, can I have a candy?”
Can you hear it? That high-pitched voice, the classic whine. Why can’t she just calmly say, “Mom, could I please have a candy?”
“Why do children whine?” This is one of the most common questions I’ve heard from parents over the years. The answer is simply, because it works. Whining, that high-pitched repetitive sound, drives most of us to distraction and causes us to respond. Let’s face it, when she asks nicely for a candy it’s easy to say no. When she carries on whining no matter what you say, it’s a real challenge to stick to your guns.
Whining is a typical child behavior. Whether or not it continues depends on your response. It is particularly common among three-year-olds. Some parents of threes say that it seems that their child has lost her real voice and simply whines all day long.
It would be easy to decide that if whining is typical pre-schooler behaviour so all you need to do is stick it out until it passes. Unfortunately, that rarely works. Just think of an adult you know who stills drives you crazy with her incessant whining! So, while you can relax and know there is nothing wrong with your child, she’s typical, you still have to teach her that this in just not the way to communicate.
Kids learn by paying attention. I know it seems that they simply ignore most of what you do and say, but in reality they are extremely alert. If you want proof, watch their play, particularly when they play house. You will see and hear yourself in ways you never expected.
So, if you come home from a lousy day at the office and promptly start whining about your day, know that your kids are learning their tone of voice from you. Try to listen to yourself and practice talking about your bad day in a civil manner.
A very effective way to treat whining is to prevent it. Make sure she’s getting enough sleep and meals and snacks at regular intervals. Kids do not handle being hungry or tired with any grace or dignity. Whining is most often the result. If they are hungry or tired, ignore their tone of voice and deal with the problem by offering a snack or settling them down for a nap.
He may also simply be bored. Whining may be a signal that he’s ready for pre-school, for some new challenges and responsibilities, or visits from friends.
When you can’t prevent the whining you can model appropriate language and tone of voice. Simply say, “Melissa, would you like to ask me if you could please have a cookie?” Have her repeat her request and if she gets it right, respond. Be matter-of-fact in your response. Making too big a deal of her improved speaking voice will encourage her to whine first and improve later. So behave as if you expect her to cooperate.
If she continues to whine simply leave the room saying “I just can’t listen to that whiny voice.”
When whining has become a regular habit, have a chat with him and explain that you are just not going to listen to that annoying voice any more. So tell him that when he whines, you will not pay attention but when his voice goes back to normal you would be thrilled to talk to him. Resist the temptation to remind him repeatedly that you are not going to respond to whining. By reminding him, you are responding and he is getting the attention he wants.
If whining stops working for him, he will soon drop the habit.
Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments.
I have always known that each child is a unique individual. I looked at my two who are as different as night and day. Then I consider my siblings and we are a texbook example of different.
But, now I have three grandchildren, all the same age and the differences from their births has been striking. Just before they were born I was thinking about the two movies about Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and this also caused me to think about the differences of people who live together.
The result is the e-parenting mini guide, Vive la Différence: Raising Children with Different Temperaments.
Parenting Today is keen to speak as part of your professional development event, parenting workshop or workplace wellness support program. I offer keynotes and workshops, have written books and have ongoing newspaper columns, books, blogs and newsletters.
And, no matter what the actual topic, they all share a basic value that I call:
P — is a parenting plan
U — is unconditional love
R — is respect for your child as he is right now
E — is encouragement
These make up the framework of any resources that will come from Parenting Today. These four pillars are the essential ingredients for raising healthy children who will develop into capable young men and women.