Published On: Mon, May 20th, 2013

Stop Whining At Me

Danielle Mantakoul

Danielle Mantakoul

BA of Ed Early Childhood and Editor at Mummy Weekly
She's described as one of the most engaging & dynamic speakers in the early childhood industry today, now having educated hundreds of thousands of parents & teachers. She has lectured for organisations such as KU Children’s Services, Only About Children, Qantas, National Australia Bank, Child Protection Australia, Goodstart and hundreds of council & private centres. She also developed and ran the popular parenting series for the Australian Financial Review.
Danielle Mantakoul

Stop Whining At MeIt’s soul eating stuff, shows no mercy, and targets us at our most busy, stressed and tired state. It can be relentless, or simply pop it’s head up at the most inconvenient of times. I am talking of course about whining.

I recall when my Aidan was two, being special needs his language consisted of a series of grunts and groans. If he couldn’t get his message across, he would resort to whining. He knew that it was then that I would do all in my power to try to work out what it was he wanted. Not because I was the good mother tending to my child, no no no, but because I couldn’t stand the whining! This led me to a world of picture cards that I stuck on the fridge… and the back of the front door… and the bedroom wall… and anywhere else with a stickable surface. I took photos of everything that I could think of to avoid the whine.

Now I hear what many of you are shouting at the screen. “My child has no difficulty with language and they still whine”! Special needs or not, kids do things for a reason, and whining is no exception. The problem is we just want them to stop it without looking into what’s causing them to whine, or what’s even encouraging it. Many of us use strategies to combat it such as gritting our teeth and yelling, err telling our kids to stop whining. This though achieves very little and can believe it or not only encourage it.

I don’t believe whining is something that can be eradicated overnight. This is because there is a good chance you have shown your child that whining IS something you listen to, even if it’s not in a positive light. Any strategy where kids feel they can gain your attention, regardless of it being positive or negative behaviour, is a strategy they will pursue. Kids don’t tend to continue to do things that don’t work for them.

The goal with with whine is to make you listen, the child doesn’t care how. Many of us tell our kids to stop whining and then we whine back at them. “Stop whining, and no you can’t yada yada yada”.  Sure we need to tell our kids to stop, but do they actually understand what whining is? Does this mean stop talking?

We also fail to provide very little or even no consequence to their whining, because we tell them to stop it and then go on to answer their question, repeat our answer, or heaven forbid change our mind, the ultimate whining success story!

If you’re keen on minimising the whining in your household be you dealing with toddlers, pre-schoolers, school aged kids or even hubbies, here’s some tips you should helpful. If you have your tantrums under wraps, you may notice that the strategies we use to discourage tantrums are those similar to the ones we should use for whining.

Whining Strategies

  • Is there a pattern to the whining such as the time of day or place? Kids tend to whine more when they are sick,
    bored, hungry or tired. Sometimes it’s as simple as having afternoon tea or evening bedtime earlier that can
    solve the problem.
  • Ensure they know what whining is. Demonstrate the kind of talking you like, not just what you don’t.
  • Stay calm in the whine. Getting angry and over-reacting teaches your child that pushing the whining button
    gets your attention.
  • Don’t whine yourself! Remember you are one of the most influential role models in your child’s life. What kind of
    talking do you demonstrate to them?
  • When your child whines, calmly remind them to speak nicely and when they do you will talk to them. Until then,
    tell them you can’t understand what they are saying or simply that you don’t wish to listen to the whining and will
    not speak with them until you hear nice talking and then… you must ignore the whining.
  • Do not get into a verbal argument with them or even make eye contact. Kids don’t like to be ignored, and what
    you are aiming to show them is that whining actually loses your attention, not gains it. It can be very easy to get
    into a heated discussion, but this only encourages whining. Regular whiners believe that if you are still talking,
    there is a good chance they can win. So say what you need to say and then go into ignore mode.
  • If your child understands that a no is a no, then you will have a lot less whining. This is because one of the big
    reasons kids whine is that they are using it as a tool to get you to change your mind and turn that no into a yes.
    If they know this is not possible, then the whining is greatly reduced.
  • Remember to praise nice talking. We want attention for the positive!

By Danielle Mantakoul
Copyright 2013
www.mummyweekly.com.au

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