Friday, October 14, 2011

Nipping Whining In The Bud

With two toddlers under foot, whining could easily become a second language in our house.  Once Little C reached an age where she could communicate pretty openly, there was a pretty dramatic increase in whining.  Not because Little C is a whiny girl, more because Little P was so behind in his speech that he was being pushed along by his little sister.  They were at about the same level in their language and they were both quickly figuring out ways to get what they wanted faster!
I noticed this trend shortly after we moved into our new house.  I decided to give it a little time to see if it was related to the move but after a few weeks, it only continued to get worse.  I knew I had to nip it in the bud...IMMEDIATELY. 
I'm not quite sure where I came up with the idea, but one day it just hit me;     Don't listen!

I remember standing over the stove, remembering my middle school days and how if I wouldn't react to the girls who were being mean, they would stop because it took the fun out of it.  All they wanted was a rise.
I want my kids to tell me when they need something. I love when my kids sit in the kitchen and talk to me while I'm cooking. But, I DO NOT like when they stand at my feet whining. And let me tell you, that will not be rewarded with my attention. I want to give them positive and appropriate attention.

So, this is what I did.  Keeping in mind my tone of voice (thanks SuperNanny), I began responding to their whines with,
"Ooooh, [Little P or Little C], mommy doesn't hear whining.  I only hear talking.  If you would like to talk to mommy, I will listen."
I said this is a completely calm but direct fashion.  No irritation, no frustration, just plain and simple, matter of fact.  And then until they could change it around, no attention was paid to them.  At first they didn't quite know what to do with it so I started suggesting words for them.  For instance, if Little C was whining for milk, I would say,
"Oooooh Little C, mommy doesn't hear whining.  I only hear talking.  Can you say, 'mommy may I have some milk please?'"  And sure enough, 9 times out of 10, they respond WITHOUT whining.  At that point, I always respond with, "oh, THANK YOU for talking!  Mommy doesn't like whining!" and usually a high five.
Now, after doing this for a few months, they've got it.  Generally, all I have to say is 'mommy doesn't hear whining, I only hear talking' and they will adjust their tone of voice and words. 
Now, if challenging a whine ever leads to a fit (and there is a difference between an attitude fit and a melt-down fit) that is also handled quickly.  When this happens, it is usually my son and I just tell him that if he chooses to scream and throw a fit, he can do that in his room.  If it continues, he goes to his room and I 'tell him' (meaning he's usually screaming so there isn't much of a conversation) that he can come downstairs when he has a smile on his face.  At three years old, he knows exactly what I am saying and follows the instructions.  Most of the time, he simply needs time to recollect himself...but it's not happening in the kitchen and the rest of us are enjoying our day.  Remember, we are a family centered family, not a child centered family.
With all of this said, I do take into consideration extraordinary circumstances (I.E. missed naps, sick, change of routine, etc.).  In those situations, my tolerance level is higher but they are not gone.  We still have to keep it together within reason.
So, this is my technique for whining and it has saved my sanity!  At two and three years old, these sweet kiddos know exactly what they are doing when they whine.  Not only that, but they burst with such incredible pride when they catch themselves whining and correct it without me even saying anything!
What is hilarious is that if we are out and they hear other children whining, they will often tell me, "Mommy, he should TALK.  No whining!"  Proof!  They get it!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger.