toddler behavior


toddler behavior

Do your kids whine? 
These steps will help you win the war on whining! 
by Michelle Shelton

“I waaaannnnnnttt soooome candeeeee mameeeee.” The girl drew out her words in a long whiny voice as I stood in line at the grocery store.

“No Susie, you can’t have any candy and quit that whining!” Her mother snapped.

“But I waaannnnt sommme. I waaannnnt some candeeeee.” Came Susie’s whiny reply.”

“Ugh! I can’t stand that whining Susie, stop it!” Again the obviously frustrated mother snapped at her child.

The child didn’t seem to notice her mothers angry voice and although the mother seemed truly annoyed I was absolutely astonished when the mother grabbed a couple of candy bars and threw them in her basket as she said, “there, you have the candy, NOW will you stop whining?”

Have you ever seen this happen or worse yet, maybe you are the parent giving in to a whiny child? Yikes!

There are a few things that you must know about whining before you can stop it.

First. Whining comes in many forms. Did you know rolling of eyes, slouching shoulders, heavy sighing, and basic bad attitude can be considered whining? That’s right! You must know that kids will use whatever works to get their way. If you are like the woman in the grocery store and give in to your child’s whining, the child will use it again and again because quite frankly, it worked! Susie got just what she wanted. The mother was so annoyed by the whiny voice that she was willing to give in to what her child wanted just to shut her up. This is a short-term solution to a long-term problem. If you reward bad behavior, you invite more! The more you cater to whining. The more whining you will get.

So what can you do when your child whines? Because your child will whine! A plan of action is a must! I can honestly tell you that my children rarely whine. Oh, they still make jabs at it but they use it less frequently because they know it doesn’t work. Why? Because we don’t allow it! When they start talking to me in a whiny voice, I give them a dazed and confused look and say, “Wow, I know you said something but my ears don’t hear whining. I really wish I knew what you were trying to say to me but my ears only hear what is said in a nice voice. Your voice is whiny and I can’t understand it. If you take a deep breath and say it again in a nice voice, I might be able to help you out.” 

Often time, as adults, we use words that kids don’t understand. As a parent you really must become child-like in your speech. And I don’t mean baby talk. I simply mean that if you say a word that your child may not understand, you have to define the word to the child. I define the word “whine” by telling them it is a crummy voice and that they need to talk in a nice voice. I then demonstrate by talking in a nice voice. I would always instruct them to take a deep breath and try again in the same type of nice voice. This often leads to more whining with rolling of eyes. Stick to your guns and point out their bad behavior and even if they talk in a nice voice, while they are rolling their eyes, it is still whining! Make them say it again without rolling their eyes!

When my children saw that the whiny voice didn’t work for them the way it worked for the neighbor girl, they were on to develop new talents at getting what they want. After all, the one thing as a parent that you have to realize is, it’s your kids’ job to get what they want. There is always a battle of the wants. They want this. You want that! You are the adult so you have to be clever and creative and give them direction without it becoming a war of the wills. Always attempt to create a win/win situation and give them the power to change their behavior. Remember though, your kids are creative too so you have to be a step ahead of them all the time.

When my kids were very little, we had a whining chair. If they whined, they had to sit there. I would make sure that once they were in the whining chair that I went into another room and left them. I would instruct them that they could get up when they were ready to talk in a nice voice, or not roll their eyes, heavy sigh, etc. Again, make sure you always give them charge of their own behavior. Part of that, is letting them decide how long they maintain their poor behavior. Some kids will straighten right up and other, more stubborn kids will sit there for a day, just to show you! This is why you leave the room and act as if you don’t care how long they stay in the chair. The stubborn kid wants your attention, even if it is negative, so he will stay in the chair and whine, make noise, act out and anything else that will draw attention to him. He won’t stay in the chair very long if you are not there to watch!

The number one thing you can do to curb whining is, listen to yourself! Do you heavy sigh, roll your eyes, drop your shoulders and scoff when you are asked to do something by your child, a friend, family member, or spouse? If so, YOU are a bad example! Do YOU talk in a whiny voice? Ouch. I know this hurts, but remember, you have to BE the change you want to see in your kids because they will be what you ARE!

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(c) 2003 Caton Development, Inc.

toddler behavior