You’ve all been there. Your three year-old can’t find his favorite stuffy and can’t wait the five minutes for you to get off the phone, so he tugs at your shirt and drawls “I neeeeeeed youuuuuuu nowwwww.” Or your five-year-old wants a candy bar from the check out line and starts the “But I waaaaaant it,” speech, getting louder and louder with each denial. You get it, I know.
Well, before you give up on sanity entirely, there are some things you can do right now to curb the whining madness. Granted, while these tips will bring some immediate results, they are meant to be used consistently in order to see genuine change. The bottom line is, while we want peace, more than that, we want our child’s character shaped.
Be a First Responder.
Children often whine because that’s what it takes to get our attention. If you’ve made it a habit to respond only when your child’s voice reaches a fevered pitch, then now is a good time to tune in to your child and respond more quickly. This will not only avoid the need to whine so often, but also reinforce your child’s value.
Don’t Speak the Language.
Even a toddler can understand that whining doesn’t get results, but a request in a normal tone of voice may. The simple rule in our house has always been, “If you can’t ask without whining, I can’t say ‘Yes’.” If whining works, whining will continue.
Teach the Proper Language.
It is not enough to tell our children how not to speak, but we must give him the right words as well. For instance, we can say, “I can’t help you when you whine, but if you ask me like this, I’d love to help” and then model specifically the way you would like to hear the request. Children really do want to please and can learn this very early.
When Whining Won’t Stop, Stop Giving It an Audience.
Leave the whining. Refuse to be sucked into the pity party. One reason for whining is to get attention so when the audience is lost, part of its purpose is lost with it.
Give Your Children Plenty of You.
I’ve found through the years that my kids are more likely to whine when I’m busy or when they are tired or not well (aren’t we all?), and the remedy is very simple: Give them some one-on-one time. Sometimes the fastest cure is a ten minute cuddle on the couch or even a time-out together to read a book or play a simple game. This is a cure-all for much of what ails my kids and even teens. We all want attention and a little eye-to-eye or skin-to-skin contact may be all that’s needed to change not just the rest of a day, but a heart and an attitude as well.
So hang in there. I know what it’s like to barely have my eyes open and already be at the end of my ability to hear, “I neeeeeeeeeeeed youuuuuu,” but the fact is, our children do need us. They need us to steer them away from poor behavior, lead them to good behavior, and love them no matter what.
(Image courtesy Clare Bloomfield at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)