Does Your Child Whine?

Whining jpgFirst things first, let's decide what whining is and what whining isn't.

If your baby is hungry, an item of clothing is pinching him, a diaper needs changing, this is different than a toddler sitting in a shopping cart demanding that you buy that candy bar.

We're talking here about a child who can understand what you're saying. Now I believe even a baby understands what you're saying, but we'll discuss that in another post.

So when your child doesn't get his or her way and starts whining, what do you do?

Well, of course, you can simply just give in and let the child have whatever it is he wants. When the child whines and we've got a ton of things on our mind, we may just go ahead and give in.

I'm not here to tell you that you should "never give in" but I do believe you can get your child's agreement to change his conduct. Let's look at an example:

You and your child are at a grocery store and you're getting ready to check out. Your precious daughter wants a particular item. You don't wish to buy it for her. You let her know in a very friendly way that you can't buy it right now. She keeps at it and eventually starts whining.

Perhaps she senses you are embarrassed by her ear-splitting sounds. Maybe that doesn't occur to her, but she just simply wants something and she's determined to get it.

Whatever the case may be, she's to a certain degree USING whining as a method to get something from you. Why?

Because she's found it successful.

She's whined before and you gave in. Maybe it goes back to when she cried as a baby, got your immediate attention and care, and she noted that this worked. It doesn't really matter how far back this goes, what IS important is how you deal with it from this point forward.

My suggestion here is to talk with your child about what she is doing:

"Mary, I cannot buy this doll. Your crying is not going to change my mind here. I'd really appreciate it if you helped me get finished here with our shopping."

If Mary continues to cry, you complete your shopping and you do NOT change your demeanor with your daughter. You are still super friendly and super caring. You're just not giving in.

When you get into the car or when you get home, you have another conversation with Mary:

"I want you to know, Mary, that you can talk to me at any time. You can certainly ask me for things and many of those things I'll be able to get for you. I love you and I'm eager to help you in any way I can. However, there will be times when I cannot get you what you want. When those times happen, I do not want you to cry and demand that I change my mind. You can talk to me, give me more information about what you want, and we can talk about it. But whining WILL NOT work with me. Do you understand, honey?"

The above of course is an example of how the conversation could go. But the sooner you have that conversation, the better! Your child can and will understand you. You may have to have this conversation several times. Maybe many times.

But your precious little one will eventually get that there is a different way to communicate to you about things they want. And when they do, it'll be a whole new world for them and for you.

Again, if they really need your help for something, then you provide it. But whining in a restaurant because they got macaroni and cheese instead of steak and mushrooms is clearly different than a stomach ache. You'll easily see and know the difference.

How Did My Child Get So Disrespectful?

Disrespectful_child This is a question too many parents are asking these days. And it seems the age at which this problem manifests is getting younger and younger.

Let's look at some of the apparent reasons for this:

• Peer pressure. Kids tend to emulate what the "other" kids are doing so if they observe their friends being disrespectful to their parents, this makes it easier for them to follow suit.

• Turbulent school environment. If the scene at school is rough and kids are learning not-so-wonderful character traits, this can rub off at home.

• Parents not around. When both parents work or spend too much time away from home, some children find ways to let their parents know they object to this. Disrespect may certainly be one of these ways.

Each one of the above most certainly can be factors, but let me suggest another possibility:

The parent and the child are OUT of communication with each other.

What does that mean: "out" of communication? It means simply there may be talking going back and forth, but communicating isn't really happening. The child has things on his mind that s/he doesn't want the parents to know or is too embarrassed to tell them. The parents observe conduct that they consider non-optimum and instead of sitting down with the child and discussing this, they get backed off or consider they just don't have the time to do so.

The child may be struggling to understand something about life or upset about something that happened with a friend. The parent who gets in there and finds out these things and is there to gently help the child resolve these concerns is a parent who is instilling respect into the relationship. And this respect goes both ways: from the child to the parent and from the parent to the child.

A vital ingredient in helping your child grow is communication. It cannot be brushed off. To the degree that your conversations with your child are superficial, to that degree your child will go out of harmony with you. You, the parent, are in control of how much harmony and respect there is in your home.

Each of the three factors given above (peer pressure, etc.) may be present in your child's life. But if you and your child are in superb communication, these factors just do not have the same impact they would otherwise.

It is never too late to get into better and better communication with your child. Every step in that direction is a major step in the right direction.

In future posts, we'll discuss ways to bring about this superb communication with your child.

When a Child Wants to Help…

One of the biggest mistakes parents make is not recognizing when a child wants to help. Being in small bodies, they are not going to offer the same kind of help that a fully grown person does, but they will make the effort. And when that effort is not recognized AND acknowledged, then the child will start to "help" in ways you don't appreciate.

I've seen this with my own eyes: A child around two years old is sitting in a shopping cart. He takes an item from the cart and tries to place it on the conveyor belt to the cashier. The unaware mom stops the child from doing this and says, "that's okay, honey, I'll take care of that." Unfortunately, I've seen too many moms yell at their child for attempting this. Perhaps the mom is worried the child will drop the item. Perhaps the mom is in a hurry. Perhaps the mom is just stressed out.

Now we turn to the mom who sees this seemingly insignificant act as a real effort on the child's part to HELP. The child wants to contribute in some way. She's small, but she can grab onto some item in the shopping cart and TRY to get that item onto the conveyor belt. The smart mom observes what is happening and let's the child complete this act of contribution. If the child is having difficulty pulling it off, the mom helps out in a way that allows the child to still take "ownership" of the help that's being offered.

When the helpful act is accomplished, the mom gives the child a very hearty thank you (and maybe even a hug). The child gets that her help is appreciated and will continue to deliver this kind of help in the future. Parents allow the child to complete these acts of help and acknowledge the child each time for doing so.

As mentioned earlier, the child who has this line of help and contribution cut off by the mom or the dad (or siblings) will find other ways to "help." The child will do things that are a bit (or very) destructive. This will certainly get a response. Not the response the parent or the child really wants, but a response nevertheless.

Give your child the freedom to contribute and you will be doing your child (and your marriage) a great service.

More ideas on bringing up children in my book When the Thrill Is Gone. Ebook version is currently available at no charge.

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