Whining is one of the most irritating things that young children do, and it can push any parent to their absolute breaking point. Kids whine for a variety of reasons: they could be tired, hungry, sick, frustrated, or looking for attention. If parents give in to whining (think, toy or candy bar at the store), then kids learn that whining gets them what they want. The key to overcoming this habit begins in the calm moments where we as parents can come up with a plan to address our children’s whining in positive, non-shaming ways.
When my husband and I first got married (and while we were dating), we had no idea how much free time we had on our hands. We took for granted going out with friends, taking day trips, and tackling household projects quickly and efficiently. More than anything, we took for granted having the energy for these activities.
In September of 2015, our lives changed forever when we welcomed our first baby boy into the world. They say that having a baby changes things, but it isn’t until you hold your child in your arms that you truly understand just how much. Late-night feedings and diaper blowouts became the norm, and sleeping in became a distant memory. We knew more than we ever wanted to know about baby Tylenol dosages and nose-frida’s. Despite this, we were happier than we had ever been. We were overwhelmed by an all-consuming love for our little guy. Fast forward two and a half years, and we are getting ready to do it all over again with baby #2!
Parenting a toddler is a lot like being a hostage negotiator: it takes planning, strategy, and some out of the box thinking. When we ask a toddler to do something, 90% of the time the reaction is a Big. Fat. NO. Eating dinner, getting strapped into the car, taking a bath, going to bed; almost any daily task can turn into a battle of wills when it comes to toddlers. At times, toddlers are so committed to saying “no” that they say “no” even when they mean “yes.” For example:
Parent: “Do you want your eggs?”
Parent: (takes eggs away)
Toddler: (crying) “I want my eggs!!”
Being a working mother is an exhausting, never-ending cycle. Every day it’s the same – you wake up, get the kids out the door, and drop them off at childcare. You make your way to your job where you spend the next eight hours pouring over work and hoping no one notices the breakfast stain on your top. You fight the traffic home, get dinner, bath, and bedtime rolling, and once your child is finally in bed… you still aren’t done. There are dishes to clean, laundry to fold, and food to prep. When you finally climb into bed you mentally prepare yourself to wake up the next day and do it all over again. In order to survive this crazy chapter in life, working moms have to be practical, organized, and efficient.
Transitions, or moving from one place, person or activity to the next, can be so difficult for young children. During transitions is when we start to see small children have big behaviors, and it’s because moving from one thing to another can be scary and unpredictable. Change feels overwhelming to them, especially when they don’t have any tools to cope.
Imagine that you are in the middle of watching your favorite TV show, enjoying a glass of wine and some chocolate. Your spouse approaches you and asks you to stop what you are doing immediately and take care of the dishes. This is likely how your child feels every time you ask them to stop playing, leave the park, or come to the dinner table. Had you known ahead of time that you would need to take care of the dishes, it might not be quite as difficult to get up and do it. But there’s no avoiding it, transitions are a natural and necessary part of life. The key is equipping our children with the tools and strategies they need in order to make these transitions more predictable, and therefore, more tolerable.
I’ve seen it time and time again, and I’m sure you have too… A child darts past another child, knocking over their block structure, yelling an un-empathetic “Sorry!” over their shoulder as they run off to continue their play. Young children are being taught to say “sorry” long before they are actually developmentally capable of feeling sorry for their actions. The act of saying sorry appeases adults because it’s the polite thing to do, but teaching children to say sorry is not the same as teaching our children to be empathetic towards others, and here’s why: