consistent parenting advice
consistent parenting advice

Whining Kids

whining kids
Whining Kids!!
Nothing is as nerve racking as the noise made by whining kids - it seems worse than chalk on a blackboard and can go on longer than a marathon if left unchecked.

Often our reaction is to stifle the sound at all costs - the cost usually being to the detriment of our whining child's self respect.

It can certainly become a bad habit and become firmly fixed in our child's regime of bad behavior, often because we give in to it, just in order to stop the sound.

Why do kids whine and what can we do about it?

One of the best articles I have read on this subject of whining kids also has the catchiest title!! I love it!!

Top marks to blog writer, Lill Hawkins, for this wonderful, humourous and compassionate answer to whining kids. I heartily recommend it.

Would You Like a Little Squeeze With That Whine?

Wonderfully written by: Hawkins

DD is having one of those days. She couldn't find her frog shirt, even though she completely destroyed the stacks of clothes in her clean clothes basket, which is what she chooses to have instead of a bureau. Then she got so angry at the clothes for messing themselves up, that she literally threw them all over the basement floor and then collapsed into a heap beside them, yowling her head off that they were stupid clothes. When I gently suggested that she might want to go brush her teeth and then get dressed, she said, through clenched teeth, that she wasn't getting dressed unless she could wear her frog shirt.

She seethed through the house for a half hour or so, glaring at the poor dog, snapping at me and her brother and even ignoring her cat when he came around for pets. Waves of dark discontent and discord emanated from her and began to fill the house until we were all affected.The dog paced nervously, trying to stay out of her way and guard her faithfully at the same time. Her brother, who is none too tolerant of his sister at the best of times, disappeared into his room and closed the door firmly. Her cat went out to slaughter something, probably, and I put away the dishes with a little more pan-rattling than necessary.

We all know from experience that trying to soothe her or reason with her is fruitless, bootless and liable to lead to a true all-day meltdown that makes Global Warming look like a thirty watt bulb. So we waited for her to "come out the other side" as we call it around here, but she didn't.
whining kids
Instead, she began to whine. She's a champion whiner. Mosquitoes could take lessons and get their money's worth from my daughter. Not only does her whine grate on your ears, it grates on your mind and every nerve ending in your body. (However, I have no definitive proof that it raises blisters on the cheaper brands of latex paint, although her father claims to have witnessed it.)

While I'm a very patient parent and almost impervious to most of the noises that kids can make, this was one decibel over the sound barrier. While I don't believe in physical punishment, I can understand how parents can find themselves doing things they wouldn't believe themselves capable of, under trying circumstances like these. I know I'll probably regret revealing what I did next, but try to understand that this was an extreme situation.

I put my arms around her and gave her a big hug. Then I said, sympathetically, "You are having such a horrible day, aren't you? How can I help you?"

Surprised? Did you think I was going to say that I slapped her or shook her or whacked her on the patoot? Nope. Neither did I give her a time-out, a time-in, ground her or threaten to take away something she loves if she didn't stop whining. I did what I'd want someone to do for me if I got to the point where I was so frustrated and unhappy that the only way I could voice my discomfort was the way babies do it - with a whine.

Unfortunately, whiners prompt exactly the wrong reaction in whinees. If you think about it, and I have, whining is the kind of noise that babies make when they're fussy or uncomfortable or at the end of their rope because Mom has had them in their stroller for three hours while she walked around the mall and they need to stretch.(Babies are lousy shoppers. Give them a bottle or a breast and a dry diaper and they're good to go.Good thing Nature made them so cute, so that parents and grandparents will want to buy them lots of stuff or they'd have absolutely no value in our consumer culture.)

But back to whining and my daughter, who was still in her pjs and sobbing on my shoulder. I handed her tissues, wiped her hair out of her eyes and said, "Hey, why don't we go down and find that stupid frog shirt?" So we did. It was inside-out, which was why she couldn't find it. She put it on, along with the rest of her clothes, while I started to retrieve her clothes from the floor.

As soon as she was dressed, she started to pick them up too and we both folded them and put them back in the basket. She told me she was sorry she'd been such a jerk and I told her not to call my darling daughter a jerk. She said she was tired from playing with her friends the day before and getting up too early, but she was afraid daddy would leave without saying goodbye to her.

I've noticed that she's always tired after a day of playing with her friends, probably because she has to concentrate on using her social skills, which isn't so easy when you have a nine year old's normal problem with impulse control. Add intelligence to that and the kind of personality that will serve her well in the cut-throat world of business or academia when she's an adult, but is a hindrance when you're a kid, and you can see where she'd be worn to a frazzle by child's play. (Think Queen Victoria as a 9 yr old, riding skateboards with a family of otters.)

whining kids
Of course, this approach to dealing with whining is just my opinion, and I always have one, but I've seen it work when nothing else does. Sometimes, of course, the whiner is just so far gone that nothing works and they push you away when you try to hug them. That's when I usually take a walk, after telling my little whiner where she can find me if she needs me. Almost without fail, she shows up a few minutes later, needing a hug or showing me a drawing that she's done. Sometimes, she goes to her room and plays with her dolls, acting out scenarios that work out the reasons for her bad mood.

I can tell you what doesn't work, but almost everyone I know does it when kids whine. They tell the kid not to whine. They whine back at the kid. (Some fathers seem to be fond of this tactic, which never works and always makes things worse.) They threaten dire things if the kid doesn't stop whining. They spank or slap or shake. (I wonder why there are so many bullies nowadays? I don't know where they get it from.)

Trust me, even if the gentle approach doesn't get the whining to stop, it doesn't damage the relationship and your relationship with your kid will last long after their whining stops. Until it does stop, just grit your teeth or go somewhere else and do something you like or do what I do. Think of Queen Victoria skateboarding with the otters. (Or for an extra fillip, substitute the strong woman of your choice: Hillary Clinton, Condi Rice, Judi Dench, Carrie Nation.Now change the otters to ferrets and the skateboards to surfboards, give everyone a bikini to wear and you'll hardly hear the whine.)

Lill Hawkins lives in Maine and writes about family life, home education and being a WAHM at Get the News From Hawkhill Acres: A mostly humorous look at home schooling, writing and being a WAHM, whose mantra is "I'm a willow; I can bend."

Hawkins, Lill "Would You Like a Little Squeeze With That Whine?." Would You Like a Little Squeeze With That Whine?. 22 May. 2007. 23 May 2008>.



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