Most people don’t ever stop to find out Why Kids Whine, and are more focused on how to stop it.
And really…I don’t blame them!
Once your child starts developing their language skills enough to start forming basic sentences, it seems their new favorite game becomes “Let’s see how long I can whine before Mommy (or Daddy) loses it”!
We did everything most people do going through this with Maddie. We’d coach, give consequences, ignore requests that were delivered via the “Whine Express”, or even give in…basically anything we could come up with that would prevent us from doing what we really wanted to do, which was yelling “STOP! You’re driving me crazy!!”
But we learned that whining needs to be solved like any other problem, and that starts with finding the cause!
If your car starts making a “thump thump thump” noise on the way to work one day, you’re not just going to refill the wiper fluid and hope that solves the problem! You’d figure out what was causing the annoying sound (like your car is whining!), and use that information to fix it!
Why Kids Whine
Although this joyful time typically develops when your toddler has started showing increased ability to communicate, that still doesn’t mean that they have the vocabulary to fully explain what they are feeling. Heck, I’m in my 30’s and still can’t describe why I’m unhappy sometimes!
While whining will very rarely ever solve the issue that your child is having, it gets a reaction from you, and that will trump anything that was wrong to begin with. Despite the fact that it usually isn’t a good reaction, it gets attention, and I swear they can eat sleep and breath with just that!
“For 3 and 4 year olds who are testing the limits of their independence, whining makes them feel very powerful,” says psychologist Carolyn Crowder, Ph.D., coauthor of Whining: 3 Steps to Stop It Before the Tears and Tantrums Start
So what do we do? We fight back…enter the unending power struggle!
You know your child’s routine, and can recognize certain signs they give you before the whining starts. They may be hungry, tired, or need to get outside and run off some energy, but as much as you can try and head off these tantrums by solving the problem before it happens, it is important to still teach them the difference between whining and polite, good attention and bad.
How To Stop The Cycle
Once you stop getting frustrated, your child will stop getting the reaction, and there will be no need to do it. This is much easier said than done, but over time will be worth the effort.
It takes a lot of self-control, but if you stick to your guns, the payoff will be priceless!
One of the most important things to remember is to communicate fully with your child. Don’t just make your plan to deal with the whining and not include them, they are not just a piece of the puzzle…they are the puzzle!
Find an appropriate time to sit down and explain to them not only that you will be ignoring any future requests made by whining, but what you consider whining to be, and what you would consider asking nicely.
It’s very easy to say “Not until you ask nicely”, but if they don’t know what that means, it can cause even more frustration and whining!
This wont change overnight, especially if the whining has already become a habit for your little one. Be prepared for it to take from a few days to a few weeks, and you will still have hiccups here and there, but the difference when you come out the other side will be night and day.
We are all very quick to correct bad behaviour, but need to be sure to encourage good behaviour just as often…if not more!
Make sure that while you are helping your child work through this habit that you take the time to recognize when they meet your expectations of “asking nicely”. Even showing the effort to ask nicely in the beginning is worth recognition, showing them that there are morepositive ways to get a reaction out of you!
Remember, whining doesn’t mean your child is spoiled, or annoying, or that you did something wrong as a parent! It is a developmental stage for all children, and just as they made it out of diapers with your guidance, they’ll make it through this too!
How do you deal with whining in your house? Share below in the comments!
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