Thursday, October 9, 2014

Addressing Whining and unwanted behaviour in young children

Whining: That Voice!

Whining is high on the list of childhood behaviours that are really, really obnoxious to parents.

Some kids have developed this strategy into a dramatic art form, and there are a few youngsters who definitively deserve academy awards for their performances!

Many parents dread saying "No" to their kids, or not giving the children what they want, simply because of the threat of the whining that will result.

As aggravating as whining is, it can be managed. That management starts with a good understanding of where the behaviour comes from, followed by the use of a Calm, Decisive and Consistent strategy to address it.

What Causes Whining? 
You don't have to search far to discover the causes of whining. The answer to the question goes something like this.

Good parents have two sides to them, a warm, loving side and a demanding dominant side. To the child, the warm, loving part of parenting involves fun, affection and good times.

The demanding part involves learning to follow rules, acquiring skills and, basically, growing up and accepting responsibility for your actions.

The warm side of parenting is more friendly; the demanding side is more challenging.

You generally won't run into whining from your children when you are operating in the warm parenting mode.

However, you will run into whining when you are coming from the demanding side of the parenting equation.

Being demanding is a big part of your job as a parent, but it can create frustration and inappropriate reactions from your youngsters.

When you ask or demand a behaviour from a child, they have two choices: They can bite the bullet and cooperate or they can do what we call "test and manipulate."

Whining is a form of testing and manipulation.

Adults Reinforce Whining?
What makes whining work for kids?

Whining continues, and gets worse when mums, dads, grandparents or teachers do any of the following:

1. See whining as abnormal, horrible behaviour.
2. Feel angry or guilty when the kids complain.
3. Talk, argue, yell or whine back when the kids moan.
4. Or worst of all, give in to the kids and let them have their way when they whimper.

Four Useful Strategies for Parenting a Whiner 

1. Dramatically change the way you think: Whining comes from GOOD parenting; it does not mean you did something wrong.

2. Tell your child, “Whining is for your room.” Let them moan where you can’t hear it, but once they have calmed down, make sure they comply with your initial 'demand.' If they do not, then send them to their room again and repeat until they are willing to comply.

3. Use small, reasonable consequences. For example, "For every minute you whine at me, you are going to pay me 25 cents."

This 'monetary' forfeit may only work in a deeply consumer-based society where the child has a certain amount of 'disposable wealth,' like the US and the UK, but the principal of applying a 'loss' for unwanted behaviour is sound.

Keep any consequence simple, clear and short. Then no more talking, until the child changes its behaviour and complies.

There is No Negotiation and No Discussion allowed as this is simply another 'Testing' behaviour used by the child to take control of the situation and avoid doing what you want.

If you find this difficult, try avoiding eye contact with the child as well as not talking, this will help you stay stronger and stick to your goal.

4. You can also try using the age-old Counting Method from 1‐2‐3 for addressing the whining, but this should be a well understood way of correcting your child's unwanted behviour. It should be something you have practiced with your child from when they were very young.

If you want more information on correcting unwanted child behaviour and advice on sleep, bed-wetting and more serious childhood conditions, visit

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