Without a doubt, one of the most difficult parts of raising children is whining. It can feel like nails scratching down a chalkboard to hear kids pout, fuss, or scream when they are upset. However, the fact remains that every parent has to deal with this because it’s a normal part of childhood development. Because it can feel so irritating, it’s easy to get sucked in and lose our cool (just like our kids!). Here are 5 tips to respond to whining kids:
Determine the Reason
Since young children can’t yet articulate the reasons that they’re upset, we sometimes have to discern their needs. It can boil down to something very basic, so ask yourself the following questions: is my child stressed, tired, scared, or hungry? Often, simply identifying and acknowledging these core needs can take care of the problem. If you notice that your son or daughter is particularly cranky during certain situations (like being picked up from school), plan ahead to have a healthy snack or a stress-relieving activity on hand to help avoid meltdown mode.
Take Care of Yourself
As parents, we are more susceptible to the stress of whining when our own needs aren’t fulfilled. I encourage parents to ask themselves the same questions about themselves as they do of their children (“Am I stressed, tired, or hungry?), and then work to meet those needs. We’ll have more patience (and joy!) to handle the challenges of having children when our physical and emotional tank is full. It’s not selfish to practice self-care; it means that (among other things), you have more to give of yourself to give!
Act With Compassion
When whining gets to be too much and our emotions are running high, it’s easy to become short-tempered, but try to remember that these little ones need our patience. They are learning to communicate and don’t yet have all the words or coping skills to soothe their feelings or solve their own problems. Take a deep breath, and respond to the situation with compassion and love.
Plan With Balance
One of the reasons that children have a hard time is because they get overstimulated. There’s no shortage of activities, toys, or gadgets to keep them busy, so as parents, we need to plan our kids’ days so that they don’t get overwhelmed. You know your kids best, so try to schedule things that challenge and interest them without trying to squeeze in every activity.
Don’t Reinforce the Whining
We do need to respond to our kids lovingly when they are whining, but that doesn’t mean we should pander to their every want. If you give into a sucker every time you go to the grocery store when your child acts up, they learn pretty quickly just what to do when they want a sucker! Stay strong with your boundaries, and don’t implicitly teach your children that they can get anything they want by throwing a fit.
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