give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.1 Thessalonians 5:18
Whining has never been something that we have allowed in our home.
I know that it sounds harsh and some would even say that it is developmentally inappropriate to not allow some whining, but honestly I would disagree with you. I think, developmentally, that all children will attempt to whine to get their way, that they will whine when they aren't happy with the outcome of a situation. But as parents I think that it is our job to teach them that whining doesn't get them what they want and it isn't what God has called us to.
When Little A first reached the "developmental stage" where she started whining to manipulate situations (around 14 months I think) , there were 3 main things that we did to counteract the whining:
1. Tell her to stop and that whining is not how we ask or how we try to get what we want.
2. When she didn't stop we told her that by whining she was choosing to go to bed, and we would take her to her crib and sit her down. Then we would tell her that when she was ready to stop she could call for us and we would come and get her. Then we would leave the room.
3. After she was done her tantrum, (they were normally over pretty quickly because there was no one there to be sympathetic and she knew she wasn't getting her way) we would come back into the room but would not cuddle her to make her feel better (this is key, kids learn that at they end of a tantrum they get cuddles and thats not a lesson we want to teach them). We would take her out of the bed and allow her to sit on our lap so she could look in our eyes while we talked with her about what she did that was wrong and how she needs to use her words or signs to tell us how she is feeling and what she wants. ( Little A used American Sign Language as an infant and toddler and she was speaking full sentences by the time she was 1 year old, so it was not "developmentally inappropriate" to ask her to speak to us)
Little A has been very good at speaking her feelings and sharing her emotions with us. It didn't take her long to figure out that her tantrums didn't work on us though, she did try them every now and again just to be sure. That is normal though, kids often test the boundaries when they are in a new environment or situation, that's part of why traveling with kids can be so frustrating, they test their boundaries just in case there is more or less wiggle room for them in the new place or with the new people around.
In the last few months things have regressed a bit and she has started whining again. And I am not talking about a little bit of whining here and there, I am talking, make you crazy, every 10 minutes of the day, about anything and everything kind of whining.
At first I blamed it on myself, because I was throwing off her routine a little because of having kids here for babysitting. But as we all got more used to the schedule and having extra kids around to play with, things didn't improve. Then when we were done for the summer things seemed to get even worse. Of course then being up at my Hubby's parents place for 3 weeks didn't help since the whole routine is out of whack and there are different standards of parenting and it's always a little awkward being the strict daughter in law.
But now that we are home we have been working on it more seriously again. The first day back started out okay but by the end of the third day I felt like I had been disciplining and getting frustrated with her whining all day long.
Little A, like most children, does really well with positive reinforcement. But the problem with what has been going on is that there hasn't been opportunity for positive reinforcement, because everything makes her loose it.
For about twenty minutes we had tears and whining because her brother was standing near her, she wanted to open the door to the bathroom and I did it before her, she wanted macaroni for lunch (it had already been told to her that I was making it and yet she still cried because she wanted it) , then she didn't want macaroni for lunch, she wanted milk in a big cup..... and it goes on.
She was taken up to her room and told that she could come down and eat lunch once she was ready to be happy and stop whining.
She stayed upstairs sobbing and screaming for another 25 minutes.
Then came downstairs and cried because she was upset about the food again.
Needless to say I have been feeling frazzled and things had to change.
So here is the basics of what we have been doing this time around:
(This is a super simple reward system and can be used for curbing anything, so far we have only had to use it for whining though)
1. Set the timer on my phone for 15 minutes.
2. Allow Little one to choose the ring tone. ( Little A picked the ducks so every 15 minutes I have had ducks quacking and two very excited kids quacking along as they run around trying to find my phone)
3. Every time the timer goes off talk with the Little one about their behaviour over the last 15 minutes. Ask them if they where happy or if they were whiny and grumbly and complaining.
4. If they were whiney talk to them about how they should behave and what God asks of us. ( Now is also a good time to insert Philippians 2:14 into the conversation)
5. If they were not whiney, get excited! Cheer them on, give them some love, hugs, and cuddles (whatever works best as positive reinforcement for your child) And then give them something tangible.
We have been giving Little A a large PomPom every fifteen minutes. She then puts it into a jar (ours is covered in star stickers)Once that Jar is full, she gets one (very small) candy. It takes 6 pompoms to fill our small jar. So she gets a candy about every hour and a half.
6. As Little one continues to succeed and there are less and less episodes of whining or tantrums. Begin to add more and more time to your timer. Do it slowly. You don't want to jump up to an hour interval right away because the goal here is to have them succeed. You want to be able to praise them as much as possible.
A word spoken at the right time is like fruit of gold set in silver.
The whole point of what we are trying to do is to make whining be something that does not come naturally anymore. We want to help engrain the other positive behaviours into our children. We want to change their hearts, we want them to develop an attitude of thanks and joy even when they are not pleased with the outcome of a situation. We want to help them become more like Jesus.
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
Things are starting to be a lot more pleasant in my house because of this. Not only is it saving me from pulling out all of my hair, its helping me to speak kindly to my children and my husband, all day long! Instead of my niceness making it until noon and then giving up.
Also it is helping Little A feel happier, make better choices, use her words to share her emotions and frustrations. It is also helping her play nicer with her brother and her mommy.