Wednesday, February 15

On whining

I just got off the phone with a sweet friend who asked my advice on dealing with whining in children and so, I thought that while this is still fresh in my mind, I'd share what I've learned.

First, whenever we are dealing with a behaviour issue in a child, we ask ourselves, how are they feeling. Are they sick? Are they tired? Has this child been sleeping well at night? Should I consider giving this child a section of quiet time by themselves in the afternoon to help them feel more rested? Is there a situation that is making this child feel stressed, such as a parent working longer hours, over-hearing parental arguing, teasing by another child and so on, that we could help them think through and talk about... By the way, I think every child benefits from a half hour to hour of restful time each day, looking at books or playing quietly with a small toy on their bed. I'm more lenient with behaviours I'm not fond of if sickness or tiredness is the issue. There will always be healthy, more rested moments to work on those issues if they persist.

Now, once you've eliminated stress, sickness, or tiredness from the equation, on to the heart. Most behaviours and acting out stems from a heart issue. Every child is special and unique but I've found that whining is the fruit of a few heart issues, mainly disrespect and discontent and reinforcing respect and thankfulness will go far in helping a child not whine.

In the past, when one of our children repeatedly woke each morning grumbling and complaining, we asked this child to thank God for three things before they got out of bed. To help with this, I'd meet them at their bedside each morning and help them verbalize what they were thankful for. I didn't critique what they chose to be thankful for but encouraged them just to think of three things. In time, as they cam downstairs, I'd ask them if they had remembered to be thankful to God that morning and a few times, they'd turn right around back upstairs, hop on their beds, say their three thankfulness's and come back downstairs.

When a child is whining and asking for something, I get down to their level, look them in the eye and ask them to repeat their question or plea in a nicer way, without whining. I reiterate that I love them and I know they love me and that we can show our love for each other by speaking respectfully to each other. And parents, this you must do - please speak to your made-in-the-image-of-God little ones respectfully.

If a child keeps whining and we've gone five minutes, ten minutes or more trying to ask them to speak politely and they are not, I'll tell them that what they have to say is always important to me but I think they need a three minute moment of silence to think about how to say it nicely and we set the timer and I plop them down near me to wait quietly. Then we try it again.

I have a child who lately whines for food all day, every day. He will have just finished two bowls of cereal and half an orange or a stack of pancakes and smoothie and will start whining about what is for lunch and when is lunch. This isn't an exaggeration. The issue isn't hunger, the issue is that he likes to eat and is impatient to do something he enjoys again. We are teaching this small child to be thankful for his fruit, for his smoothie, for his pancakes or whatever he has eaten and look forward to later on in the day, when he can thank God again for what he eats next.

We can reinforce thankfulness by memorizing scripture with our children that deals with thankfulness, complaining, and contentedness. This helps and strengthens our walk with God too.

Well, math lessons are waiting to be checked and Addie-girl is tiring of the toys on her tray and needs a change of scenery so I need to leave the laptop be for now. I hope your day is a great one. If you have any other suggestions for whining, please chime in!


Nurturing Faith and Family said...

thank you for posting this...I'm having this problem with my 2 year old. Even simple questions can sometimes be a whiney voice. She also shrieks and flings herself down with even the slightest upset..such as not being able to get the diaper on her doll, or her sock on her foot. Ever dealt with a child that gets frustrated like this? Everything you had mentioned doing about the whining, I do with her. I've been praying with her multiple times each day for self control (and patience for me!). Any ideas on the frustration issue? thanks for any help.


Bonnie said...

A timely post for me as we have whiner here. Not because of being sick (possibly from being tired- this one is my very early riser), but mostly because they like to try to run the show. It doesn't happen, but it also doesn't stop them from trying : ) Anyway, I'm going to put your suggestions to use, and I'm eager to see how it goes!

P.S. I'm glad I'm not the only one who lets things slide sometimes on account of sickness or tiredness

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

Those are all great ideas for dealing with it! I also sometimes will get on their level and then start to whine at them, in a bit of a silly way and say "Do you like it when I whine? How come? Why can't I whine to you?" They will giggle and laugh and I will too, but the point is often made and they, having been made aware of it, often will change their tune!


Mary said...

Thank you so much for the sharing this, we have a 4 yr. old who is struggling in this area & I am soo glad I have my heavenly father & his word to go to for wisdom & strength! I admit I lose my patience sometimes when it is all day of dealing with the same situation, Then I am reminded that this is my calling,to be thier mama & to train them in the Lord & help them deal & put their emotions in the right balance & to ask myself, am I whining? Then I humbly go & ask forgiveness for my lack of patience or whining or both to my precious little one & my heavenly father & then we start fresh!


mandi said...

Very well said! This is the way we handle whining in our home as well. I must also add that I appreciate you reinforcing that our children deserve to be spoken to respectfully. Just as we expect that of them, they should receive that from us.

Unknown said...

Thank you so much! This is very helpful for me. It's so important to look to the issue of the heart, and not always easy to pinpoint.

Me said...

Jackie, I get frustrated too. I've found a quick bathroom break for myself and a moment to collect myself and center my heart on Christ works wonders.
When we had tantrums going on, I learned that tantrums are only rewarding for the child if they have an audience. If you remove the child from the audience, or the audience from the child, it loses its appeal. I've seen children throw themselves on the floor and when the parent walked out, pick themselves up and calmly follow the parent into the next room and fling themselves down onto the floor again and start the tantrum again. :)

Me said...

Thank you to each of you, for your encouragement to each other (and me)!

Nurturing Faith and Family said...

thank you for your help :) I do sometimes take a quick break onto the front porch to breathe...some how the kids don't find me out there..the bathroom's too easy a spot to find me quickly!