Do your kids whine?
Does the whining make your head hurt? Do you want to dig a tunnel through your kitchen floor and burrow inside until the whining stops?
My daughter was never much of a whiner, but my son… oh. When he gets just the little bit frustrated, he yells so loud that our neighbors need to cover their ears.
I wish I was joking.
I don’t blame him for his whining. It’s how he deals with his emotions. He lets them all out and hurts everyone else’s eardrums in the process.
This is not my fault. It’s not your fault if you have a kid like this.
It doesn’t mean we’re bad parents.
When our kids whine, its feedback. They’re telling us they don’t know how to handle the intense emotions boiling up inside. They need help.
This is one tip that will help them process their tough emotions, stop whining and even boost YOUR mental state.
How to Teach Kids to Stop Whining
We need to teach our kids how to deal with strong emotions – without hurting our ears.
There are many methods to do this. One is to make kids repeat what they say without whining. Another is to make a joke out of it by saying, “Oh, I wonder where Sara’s regular voice has gone. Is it under the stairs? Is it under the table?”
I’ve tried both of these and while they’ve worked temporarily, they’ve never given my kids the tools they need to process their tough emotions.
They know not to whine, but now, how to deal with those feelings they don’t know how to express?
One warning before we start
I started using this tactic a few months ago to teach my son not to whine. I didn’t know if it was doing any good.
I admit I felt a little crazy using it.
The thing we need to remember is… our teaching will not sink in right away. I’m talking months until kids internalize what we show them.
MONTHS until we see a change.
After two months of using this strategy, my son finally used it himself.
This trick works…
Here’s what happened.
When my son whines, a little knob twists inside me and I want to scream. Scream or cry, take your pick. The whining gets to me so much, I struggle with rational thought when he’s doing it.
But, instead of screaming or crying myself, I’ve been talking through my calm-down process out loud.
I talk to myself.
I look like a crazy person, I’m sure.
But science backs me up. A recent research study suggests that addressing yourself outloud helps you regulate and manage your emotions.
The study even goes to suggest that you should talk to yourself in third person to gain some distance from your strong emotions.
I didn’t do that here, but I’m willing to try it.
When my son started to whine, I…
First, I paused. Instead of yelling back, “Stop whining,” that pause gave me time to think instead of reacting.
Then, I took a deep breath and said,
“All this noise is making me SO frustrated. I’m going to take a deep breath to calm down. (Breathe). Ok, I still feel angry. I need another deep breath. (breathe).”
The first time I did this, my kids stared at me. After a couple of times, my son stopped his whining, hugged me and said, “I’m sorry, Mommy.”.
But that’s not the breakthrough.
Last night, my son didn’t want to load the dishwasher. His whole body slumped over as he stomped to the kitchen. He pulled out the top rack and then… I heard it.
He started talking to himself!
“I’m frustrated and I’m trying to calm down.”
And he did calm down! He didn’t whine or scream or tantrum throughout the entire unloading process.
I sat on my family room couch stunned. This worked!
Wait for it…
We always expect fast results. And if the results don’t come quickly, we tend to give up and label ourselves as failures.
But you and I, we’re not failures. We just haven’t given our change enough time to work.
Whatever you’re trying to change right now, keep at it. Your breakthrough is coming. The problem with breakthroughs is that they always run late.