“I WANT something that you have …which you have already told me I can’t have …but I am too little to acquire it for myself …and I really, REALLY want it!”
This is the simple thought process that is going on in your child’s mind when the whining starts even though it feels like it’s just pure, unadulterated revenge for having the audacity to think that child rearing was something us ordinary people can do.
When the whining starts, most parents stop everything and try to reason with the child. This then escalates into yelling, crying and a high volume of screeching and can even end up with physical violence to the horror of all concerned.
It is absolutely impossible to talk a child out of something once he has started going after it. And it if it weren’t so traumatic, it would be humorous to note that parents from the dawn of time until present day keep insisting on the “rational route” over and over again even though we have tried and failed about 500 times by the time our child is 3.
Just like a microcosm of how most of us lead our lives, when difficulties start, our attention gets riveted on the negative, the noisy and the impolite. Our own stress levels then rise and our personal ability to be rational vanishes just about 10 seconds after our child’s has gone by the wayside. Now we have two whiners on the scene – a big one and a little one. The big one is trying desperately to explain why an item is not OK for the child to have and the little one is just getting more upset. I want to point out that at this juncture, all the attention is focused only on the controversial item and so the upset will only magnify with no hope of resolution.
But wait! Don’t lose hope. There is a “magical” solution and it is much simpler than you may believe.
All you have to do is draw your child’s attention towards another object by making that other object infinitely interesting. Please drop all references to the forbidden candy, the ultra-violent movie that the previous Target shopper thoughtlessly stowed in the magazine rack … right at your child’s eye level. (Don’t you hate that?) Or the $225.00 dollar Lego set or even the brand new Porsche… (oops, didn’t mean to get your husband mixed up into this discussion)…
Suddenly pick up a favorite toy or book or healthy snack and make it super fun and fascinating. You know what makes your child laugh and be engaged so go that route with real focus and immediately the whining will stop and you can secretly remove the offending threat to family sanity and carry on.
One of my family’s favorite games was shopping cart obstacle course racing. My kids never made the connection that these wonderful adventures only happened in the candy aisle as their chubby little fingers were reaching out for the giant “family size” bags of M&M’s, buttercups and toxic blue marshmallows.
Who knew that there really is an antidote to stress? And the secret to a wonderful family life is to creatively figure out how to have some fun.