I use Mondays to clear out my mailbag. This week’s question deals with cranky kids. Read on for our best advice on how to conquer whining.
Question: How can I train my child to stop whining?
My two-year old has developed a bad habit of whining, and it’s driving the rest of the family crazy. Is there something I can do to curb this? Or do we just have to wait for him to grow out of this stage?
Answer: These six strategies work wonders with whiners!
What you’re describing may indeed be a stage, but I’ve got good news. There are definitely things you can do to help your child outgrow it more quickly. To effectively conquer whining requires patient and consistent application of the following six strategies (which I originally shared on my marriage & motherhood blog, Loving Life at Home):
Explain to your little boy that his behavior is making it hard for anyone to enjoy his company. Assure him that you love him regardless how he acts, but that you want other people to love him, too, so you’re going to do whatever it takes to help him break his bad habit of whining.
Whenever you give in to whining, you are rewarding and reinforcing such behavior. This must stop immediately. If you hope to help your child overcome this habit, you must make certain his whining never pays off. When he is begging for something he doesn’t really need, like candy at the checkout counter, then deprive him of it completely. When he’s whining for something he genuinely does need, like a drink of water when he’s thirsty, then insist that he ask nicely before you give it.
Be careful to model a cheerful, happy disposition yourself. If you are angry and impatient in your responses to your child, your efforts to modulate his behavior will fall flat. In the above example, when your little boy whines for water, fill the cup, get down on his level, smile broadly, and prompt him, “Do you remember the nice way to ask?” Or simply say the words you want and let him parrot them back: “Water, please?” If you’ll teach your child how to say please in sign language (by rubbing his open hand on his chest in a circular motion), then you can even help him “say please” when he is too upset to utter the words. Gently guide his hand through the motion, then respond enthusiastically, “See? Isn’t that a much nicer way to ask?” as you give him his water.
[read the remaining 3 tips at Loving Life at Home]