Q. I have a five-year-old daughter who is eager to please, but whines when she doesn’t get her way. It drives me nuts. Do you have any tips on how to get her to stop?
A. Daughter’s whining drives mom crazy — that sounds about right to me. Now multiply it by one hundred and you have adolescence.
Remember Pavlov and his dogs? It’s conditioned responses. She has discovered if she whines you react and she gets attention. Strange as it seems, even negative attention is positive attention to a young child. The solution? Stop reacting. Be aware of your voice tone and body language when she gets the pitch that makes your hair stand on end. Take deep yoga breathes and “under” react. Learn to softly and calmly say things like, “I can not help you when you talk in that voice. When you talk in your regular voice I will listen.” Do not ask her to stop — tell her to stop. Let her know you are done with her whining and she needs to find another way to communicate with you.
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Get down on her level, make eye contact and calmly let her know that whining will not get her what she wants. Also, carefully assess the situation and the triggers for the whining. Is she tired, hungry, over stimulated? It is helpful to acknowledge her feelings but not react. Say, “I know you’re hungry, but the way you are asking me for food is not ok with me. Find another way to use your words.”
After a few days of not reacting she will stop whining. Think of yourself as a slot machine. If you react to her every whine, fit and crying tantrum you are paying off in large amounts of coins and she will continue to play you. If you become the slot machine that never spits out quarters, she’ll stop playing.
— Lonna Corder
Parenting expert and Montessori school director, Lonna Corder has been doling out advice for 25 years as a teacher, parent/child consultant and on television. For more information, visit lonnacorder.com.
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