My boys don’t whine. They don’t. It’s the one damn thing I think I might have gotten right in this whole parenting world*. They fight. They punch each other (in fact, last night Carter started WAILING on Casey in the car. Brother punches, not angry punches. As he was doing it, Casey was laughing to the point where his voice was cracking and he could barely breathe. In between giggles and gasps he said, “I…deserve…this!”) they complain, but they don’t EVER do it in the whiny voice that makes me stabby.
I’ll tell you why I think they don’t: We have a zero tolerance policy to whining. It started out with my complete abhorrence to whining. I can’t stand the sound of it. It’s like mouth sounds- there’s nothing I can do. I hear it – I get angry. Kids use whining as leverage. Parents HATE it and will do anything to get them to stop. It’s human nature to employ methods that generally work. So if whining EVER works, your kids are going to keep using it. Here’s what to do to shut down whining in your life in two simple steps:
1. Say to the whiner, “I’m sorry. I don’t understand ‘Whine.’ Please talk to me in your regular voice.”
This takes the leverage away from the bag-of-violent-cats sound that is a child’s whine. It lets your child know that you are still interested in what they are wanting, still open to conversation, but it gives clear terms as to how that conversation will be had. If the child continues to whine, move on to number 2.
2. Shut it down.
If they continue to whine for whatever reason, shut. it. down. My kids know that if they whine because they aren’t getting what they want they will IMMEDIATELY have that thing taken away. Whining because you can’t get on the computer? No computer then. Whining because I won’t make you Mac N’ Cheese again? You’ll be making yourself a sandwich for lunch today. You might have to go to some crazy lengths at first to prove the point: Whining does not win with you. Not just this once. Not ever.
Kids are smart. They get what works with you at an early age and employ that as necessary. If the sound of their whine makes you give in, they’ll do it. If you don’t give in for a half an hour, they’ll learn to just whine longer. You can’t give in.
If this doesn’t work, don’t come whining to me. I don’t speak Whine.