Whining happens. Especially when children are tired, hungry or bored. One rule clearly communicates to our kids what happens when they whine.
Whining and complaining is common among children. It can be frustrating to listen to whining, but the reality is, adults do it too. We try not to call it whining when we do it though; we call it complaining. Or we try to give it purpose by calling it venting or getting something off our chest.
Whining communicates a lack of gratitude for what we have, and general discontentment. It’s very important for our children to learn different ways to express what they want or need, because persistent whining carries into adulthood.
Children, like adults, don’t really like when they aren’t getting what they want. And often, children don’t have problem solving skills to see the easiest way to get what they want without whining. Unfortunately, adults don’t always have this excuse, do they?
We’ve been wrestling with whining at our house. One simple rule reminds our children there are other ways to ask for what they want.
Whining does not get us what we want.
Whining for food? Not getting any. At least not yet. Are you whining to go outside? Staying inside, for now. Bored and whining? I don’t think I can help you right now. Whatever they are whining for, they will hear the same response from me.
Whining does not get us what we want.One simple rule for whining: Whining does not get us what we want. #parenting #motherhood #whining #complaining Click To Tweet
They Have a Choice
Our children can choose to continue to whine, but it will not produce the desired result. And they may end up having to continue whining in their room.
The message is clear; they’ll have to find another way.
Grace and Guidance
But what does a child do with this? I can tell you our children often get really frustrated with this simple rule. They’ve heard it before but the reality is, they don’t know another way. So along with this rule comes a lot of grace and a willingness to teach some problem solving skills.
They need to learn to solve their problems without whining. And they need help. If it was natural to respond without whining, they’d already be doing it.
As parents, we have the obligation and responsibility to teach them how to approach their problem another way. And it’s important to acknowledge how they feel about not getting what they want. We know how it feels and struggle with this too, don’t we?
Have you ever noticed children can be whining but really have no idea what started it in the first place? They don’t even know how they got to the point of everything becoming a whine in the first place! We can extend grace by asking a series of questions to help them figure out what the problem is.
Help them name the problem. Many times, naming it is enough to make them recognize what they need so they can ask for it.
Next, try asking questions to help them figure out a solution. Does the way they are talking sound kind? Is there another way they could be talking? What is it that they need or want? Do they need help with something? Have they tried asking for it?
I often find myself saying to our kids, “Lets start with asking for it”. And parents, I think we need to be generous here; when we can say yes, SAY YES! It creates a positive experience of what happens when they find a better way to ask or express their desires.
I know we can’t always say yes; we need to stand firm to the rules and priorities of our family. However, I admit to saying no to things our kids whine about simply because I’m irritated and don’t want to say yes. Anyone else do this? I can say yes, but I don’t. It’s an emotional response out of my own frustration, and lacks grace. It also doesn’t reinforce the lesson I’m teaching. If I want this thing to stick, it’s important to show grace, and use no sparingly when possible.
Rephrase the Whine
While it isn’t fool-proof, most whining can be rephrased as a polite question. We can help our kids rephrase their whine, but it takes practice!
Turn that whine into a polite question explaining what you need or want to do?I’d like to help you. Lets talk about it.
Suddenly whining for food becomes I’m hungry. Can I have a snack? Whining to go outside becomes I really want to go outside. Can we? Bored and whining becomes I can’t find anything to do. Can you play with me?
Admitting Our Part
Before going any further, I think we need to step back as parents and determine if we contributed to their whining. Yes, you read that right. Bear with me, ok?
Parenting is a big job. I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I’m so busy or distracted that I neglect to make our children feel heard. No wonder they turn to whining! At least it provokes a response, albeit a negative one.
Have they already asked you for want they want? Were you really listening to them or have you been distracted with something else? Is your phone in your hand? Are you consumed by a book, TV show, conversation with a friend, or meal prep and housework? We all have things to do, but often we make our kids wait when we could turn our attention and respond.
Did you ask them to wait longer than is appropriate for their age? Is there a physical need like sleep, food, or water that needs to be met?
If we contributed to the problem, we may need to remedy our response before we ask them to remedy theirs.When our kids are whining, we need to admit our part. If we contributed to the problem, we may need to remedy our response before we ask them to remedy theirs. #parenting #ouch #whining Click To Tweet
Although sometimes it would be easier to give in to the whine, remember, consistency is king. Every time we give into a whiny request, we demonstrate that whining does get them what they want. At least, it does sometimes.
Which means it’s still worth trying.
So, Do. Not. Give. In. Start showing them that whining does not get them the result they want, and then help them find another way.
While this phrase is helping our family with whining, it’s certainly not the only way! For more ideas to address whining in your home, check out these great resources!
Parenting is Hard for a Reason, Christina Fox, The Gospel Coalition
How Adults Act Like Naughty Toddlers, Rebekah, Surviving Toddlerhood
2 [Unpopular but Effective] Ways to Stop Whining, Rachel Norman, A Mother Far From Home