Do you lay awake at night wondering how to get your kids to stop whining? Or maybe you ponder this universal question of parenthood curled up in the corner of your closet with the lights out and the door shut tight?
For us, It all started with pink milk. . .at least that is my best guess. I don’t even remember how exactly we started giving my son Nestle’s Strawberry Syrup in his milk, but we did. It started off innocently enough—maybe his older brother or sister had a chocolate or strawberry milk concoction he tasted once. I never realized until now the monster I created and it all started with pink milk.
I didn’t really create a monster, I mean what kind of mom would I be if I actually called my child that? What I mean is that since my son was a toddler, I gave in to his every specific (mom, that is not pink enough, mom it’s wet on the outside of the cup, mom I will only eat the waffle if it is folded in half a certain way, mom, that is too much peanut butter in the middle of my sandwich, etc.) desire and catered to his every whim.
Thinking back, I don’t know why I started that—I certainly didn’t intend to. He was number 3 and after he was born was the first time I ever felt like I “needed” coffee. I really think it was just the sheer number of kids I had at that point. Then we decided to have a fourth child. I am really intuitive and usually know exactly what my kids want before they get the whole sentence out of their mouth. I guess I fell into the routine of getting what they want before they even ask to make it easier on myself. I didn’t want him to feel shoved out of his “I am the baby” spot when number 4 came along.
Yet, as I sit back today and wonder how in the world I am going to get through this parenting challenge and tame this 6 year old whiny monster, I realize I will just have to make a clean break and stop giving in. Stop giving him the pink milk. Then I realized—wait, did I cause this? I started to wonder-does every whiny child have a well-meaning parent to blame?
So I set out to find the best answers on taming a whiny child. My first go-to is of course prayer-the loud desperate kind when I am at my wit’s end. I often pray to be a graceful mother like Mary was to Jesus. In fact, graceful is my goal because to me it means to be calm and purposeful in my thoughts, actions, and words.
The second step is to consult different parenting books and child psychologists thoughts and recommendations on the subject.
I thought I would find this great information I would share with you.
Huh. . .It seems there are conflicting schools of thought on how to handle a whiner.
So many articles promise an easy way to get kids to stop whining.
The most talked about causes for whining can be sleepiness, hunger, need of attention from a parent. But what if you ruled out all of those and it is just that your kid wants everything his way and asap?
Then like a big dog licking you smack in the face, it hit me. I am looking in the wrong places to find my answer.
I can’t find my answer in some parenting book or from some child psychologist. All I need to do is look in the mirror. Yes, me! We know from Newton’s Third Law that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction—from our kids. The only way to change my son’s whiny behavior is by changing my own behavior.
What a concept!—It sounds like a lesson from a kid’s movie, like Kung Fu Panda—“The answer lies within me. I carried it with me all along.”
I need to change. I need to respond differently to my kids “wants.” I should give them what they “need,” and sometimes that is letting them go without. Allowing them to figure out how to get something done that they want. Allowing them to go thirsty when they refuse to drink the pink milk I made because it isn’t “pink” enough. Allowing them to cry as hard and dramatically as they want. NOT allowing myself to give into my own comforts (like being able to hear myself think) and letting them just “cry it all out.”
Then, when they are finished throwing their tantrum, we can sit down and talk about what happened. Talk about the fact that life is not fair. We do not always get what we want and we have to learn to deal with that. I always like to throw in the Jesus factor too. There is not much even a preschooler can argue with when you bring up Jesus’ sacrifice for us. It wasn’t fair that he had to die on the cross for our sins, but he did anyway. He did it so that when we throw our fits and tantrums about not getting what we want, we can subsequently ask for forgiveness and still have a chance at making it to heaven. What is not fair is that as humans we continually screw up and make bad choices only to be forgiven over and over and placed back in God’s grace.
I want my children to grow up and not feel entitled. I want them to be humble and thankful for every blessing that is granted them. It seems ironic that the way to accomplish that is not doing everything for them. In a society that applauds “helicopter parenting,” parents often feel like they are not doing a good enough job of parenting. We are pressured to believe we have to meet every need and shelter them from as many hardships of life that we possibly can. Let them experience obstacles, even as silly as having to deal with the crust on their peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Learning to deal with the obstacles when they are small, gives them experience and the courage to tackle the later and greater obstacles of life.