With 4 kids it was bound to happen sooner or later, a whiner in the bunch.
As a mom I can deal with a lot of kid things. Bumps, bruisies, sibling spats, etc. are no big deal to me. But whining, whining is like nails on a chalkboard. That, I will no stand for.
My kids have no reason to whine. We have a warm home, choices when it comes to clothes, food prepared by my lovely chef husband and toys, books and games to entertain. Their lives are full, whining will not be tolerated.
With this particular child I think some of the whining is personality. This child is more of an artistic daydreamer, slowing marching to the beat of their very own drum which is probably a piano or guitar in their mind. But even personality is not an excuse for whining.
What is a parent to do?
In our house I’ve put my size 9 foot down. We will be a home that lives with an attitude of gratitude – and that goes for the kids too.
So, we are in the midst of an interesting experiment. Right now with just the whiner of the bunch but it might become a family exercise.
3 Steps to Replace Whining with Gratitude:
1. Stop. Each time the child whines I point it out. However, I don’t just say “you’re whining”. Like re-direction with a toddler, I point the child toward a next step. So I say “Tell me something you’re grateful for.” I have now detoured whatever the whine was about and pointed toward a new direction.
2. Require an answer. “I don’t know” is not an answer. So there are 2 options. A) Provide an answer. B) Go sit in your room until you can come up with an answer. Day 2 of this experiment the whiner tested the limits. 1 hour and 20 minutes later it was decided it was easier to give an answer than sit on our bed doing nothing.
3. Follow up. “I’m grateful for our dog.” Yay, I’m so happy for you but what I really want to do is teach the child that gratitude is more than an action, it is an attitude. After the gratitude is given I always follow up. “I like Mabel too, what is YOUR favorite thing about having a dog?” This follow up pushes the child to not just list off whatever might be right in front of them but to really think about all the things in their life and what they mean to them.
Usually by the time our gratitude exercise is over the child has forgotten what they were whining about and moves on with their day with a changed heart and better attitude.
It doesn’t work every time. There has been more than on stalemate take place from the bedroom. The response is not always thoughtful either.
BUT, we are seeing progress. The whiner is whining less. AND as an added bonus the other siblings are jumping on board. When the whiner whines they say “you better have something you’re grateful for.”
I can’t imagine this system would work for every family or every child but if you have a whiner and are at your wits end maybe give it a try and let me know how it goes!
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21