Nobody is perfect, but we do have to try.
No child is perfect, and neither is any adult. There is, however, incredible beauty and noise in those things we might view as imperfections. I mean – remember that time your kid took to the walls with that koki? Sure, you were angry, but that little mischievous sparkle in their eye and toothy grin melted you. I know – I’ve been there. If we had ‘perfect’ children, life would be boring and staid. I say, bring me the noise and chaos of kids but, please – do yourself, your children and the world a huge favour, and nip whining in the bud, today.
We’ve all been there and all seen it – the mom who is just trying to get the groceries done and dealing with a tantrum-toddler who claims to “Neeeeed” that lollipop, pummelling themselves into the ground and throwing a frothy that would probably put some politicians to shame. To you, moms and dads, I want to go over to you and hug you, remind you that one day you can use this experience against your kid in your speech at their 21st birthday party and to offer you a coffee or a glass of wine.
I have nothing but love for you, moms and dads, because I have been there and I know it all too well. I’m the lady who once had to strap a tempestuous toddler into the trolley while she (loudly and clearly) yelled: “ YOU’RE HORRIBLE! I WANT THE MONKEY” and then burst into wrenching sobs, making me look like some evil witch from the West. I’m not talking to you, parents who are dealing with a tantrum in the shopping queue, but I am talking to you, parents who let whining become a habit.
Here are two things about whining that you should know:
- The only reason why a child will do it, more than once, is if it works.
- The only reason why it’ll work is if you respond to it, cave in to it or let it happen.
Oh, and bonus thing to know – whining is the most annoying noise a parent can ever hear.
I’ve read countless articles filled with tips on “how to deal with whining” or “how to curb that whine” and they’ve all left me wanting to reach for the wine, because – honestly – it’s easier at the time of the whine to just give in and carry on. But it’s not beneficial for you, your children or the world at large, in the long term.
Why do children whine?
Children usually whine when they are asked to do something they don’t want to. Whether it’s get in the bath, stop hitting their brother or to toddle off and go do their homework, your kid will whine if they are not keen on following through. I have limited parenting experience (she’s ten this year), but I learnt something during the toddler years that seemed to have kicked whining to the kerb (thanks, mostly, to my mom for this advice):
- Turn every time that you need to ask your kid to do something, into a game or a deal making system. This works especially well during the toddler years. Some call it negotiation; other people call it bribery and me? I call it survival. It would go a little something like this: “If you go and bath now, I’ll let you watch twenty minutes of Bob the Builder in your pyjamas” or “If you get through Pick ‘n Pay without complaining, we will go for a milkshake afterwards. Yes, the one with sprinkles on top.”
- The very second you hear that nasal, high-pitched “But moooom…”, stop what you’re doing. No, really – typing that tweet is not as important as nipping this one in the bud. Check that there’s nothing wrong with your child (are they hurt? Is this a whine or a serious issue?) and then, simply say: “No whining.” If it continues, get up, leave the room and ignore it. Pretty soon, the whining doesn’t happen anymore and your well-bent ears will thank you.
Why am I telling you this? Because nobody likes a whiner and you don’t want your child growing up thinking they’ll get their own way if they whine their way towards it. The people in their future are already thanking you for stopping that whine before it began.
How have you battled whining in your house?