Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Whining is actually an advanced skill.

 Whining a good thing?

Every mother I know would disagree. I read this article today about how whining is actually an advanced, age appropriate skill. Kinda a neat way to think about it.

Here is some of the highlights.

Whining is actually a sign of maturity! When our children whine it is a sign that your little one is growing up and, get this, gaining self-control!

Babies come into the world with one communication~crying. As they grow into toddlers, they begin to learn ways to communicate... pointing, signing, grunting, small words and sounds. Then they move quickly into better, more efficiant ways of communicating, but fall into the old pattern of crying when they get emotional and forget how to articulate what they need. This is normal for babies and we usually accept this.

As they become preschoolers, language advances and they use talking a main source of communication for the most part. They still struggle with some skills such as pre-thinking, consequence and rationalization skills. These skills are lacking and at time they forget what to do or say when their emotions rise.

Their frustration levels rise and stress hormones sap the blood flow from those underdeveloped ‘thinking’ portions of their brains.

Normally they would then fall back to crying ... but preschoolers know better... they have SOME self control and so they resort to whining... the middle ground. Good for them!

Whining is, in fact, just an advanced form of crying.

Now what do WE do about it? We can either get upset and name call or label our preschoolers as 'spoiled' or 'bratty' and refuse to listen to them. OR We can choose to recognized that they are in need of help and they desperately need our guidance to show how to handle their emotions and find the words to sort it all out.  Whining = a time to really listen. Stop what your doing and go to them.

 We accept crying as a normal part of baby and toddlerhood.

If we, the adults, would adjust our mindsets to accept the normalcy of whining, it would lose a bit of its power to annoy and enable us to respond empathetically to our children when they’re mustering all their newly-developed coping skills to avoid a meltdown.

1. Prevention is always the cure... if we can make sure to pay attention to the times of day whining seems to occur regularly and watch for triggers such as hunger, missed naps, over-hurried schedules, etc. and make what adjustments you can to prevent the whining before it starts next time.

2. Respond by slowing down, sitting with them or kneeling down in front of them, and giving them your full attention.

3. Use a quiet, soothing tone to reassure them, and listen patiently all the way through as they work their way back through the frustration and find the words to express themselves.

4. Ask questions! "What are you thinking? How are you feeling? What can you do now? What can I do to help you? What do you need? What do you think we should do now?" This can happen AFTER they are calmer and relaxed.

5. Validate their feelings if you know whats wrong already. "I see your really sad. I'm sorry your sad." "Do you need a hug?"

 "I understand your upset because you can't have the toy until after dinner. Where can we put it when your ready for it?" Get them involved in problem solving. (again after they calm down)

Give them your time and attention throughout the day. Put up a 'mommy/daddy and me' time (15min goes a long way) Let them know when they get alone and special time with you.

Remember children who 'feel heard' tend to grow out of the whining faze faster then those who don't. If your child is whinging, think of it as a time to reflect on what your child's needs may be and what you can do to change the pattern in your life. Good Luck!

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