Whining. They all do it. It’s not so much what they’re saying as the creepy little tone of voice that gets under your skin and makes you want to stab yourself in the neck with a pencil. Or maybe that’s just me.
It’s a horrible habit to get into and it can seem like an impossible habit to break your child of, but let me tell you the really scary thing: You, yes you, are actually the person who taught your child to whine – and you are the one who will be able to make it stop.
Whining is one of the things our children use to manipulate us into getting their own way. Yes, I said “manipulate.” A lot of people don’t like it when I say that, but our little buggers are brilliant manipulators – and it’s okay. Every person has to learn how to be happy in the world and for a certain span of time – say from the age of 1 until 30 – we think that getting things will make us happy. So, it logically follows that we learn how to manipulate our environment to learn how to get stuff.
As the major vehicle in your child’s life, they learn how to drive you like a fine Porsche. If I push this petal, I’ll get this result and if I push this one I’ll get this. Don’t just be a passive petal, sitting there waiting to be pushed around. Take the wheel and teach your children how to negotiate the world in a healthy, respectful way.
Following, you’ll find the keys to breaking the habit of whining and learning how to use Direct Communication. In my book Parenting Keys, there is an entire chapter devoted to this topic because I think it is one of the most important skills to teach our children – especially our girls. For more information about how to get a free e-book copy of the book, click here.
Keys to Learning Direct Communication
- The first key is to stop rewarding the behavior that you no longer wish to see. This first step is very important. Every single time your child whines, simply say, “I am going to say ‘no’ to that request because you whined instead of asking me. Next time, try saying, ‘Mom, may I please ________.’ instead and give me the choice of saying ‘yes’ or ‘no.’” That’s it. Say it the same way every time and NEVER give in to whining. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your children will learn this new way of getting what they want. Remember: you teach people how to treat you. This is especially true of your children.
- Now that your children are asking direct questions, you have to make sure that you are also practicing direct communication with them – and your spouse. If you are modeling manipulative, indirect ways of managing things, they will continue to try to manipulate you. There are many, many small ways that we manipulate our families and friends and it’s time to STOP! If you use the techniques of half-truths, white lies, going behind someone’s back, talking over each other or simply ignoring one another, passive-aggressive manipulation, assuming authority for everything without including your partner, sacrificing yourself and your needs to make yourself feel superior, or any combination of these to get what you want from your spouse and others, you are teaching your children to use them as well. It’s time to cut the games, stand in your authentic Self and use direct and clear communication. This opens the door for every person in your home to be themselves, with no apologies, able to negotiate (and re-negotiate) healthy agreements for themselves. Life becomes about happy cooperation, not sneaky manipulation.
- Practice, Practice, Practice. Really work on asking clear, direct questions. Give others the opportunity to say “no” to you and practice saying it to others. The reason people use manipulation to get what they want is because they feel powerless in the face of a situation. You are never powerless. As you learn how to be clear and direct, you access more and more of your own inner power. And, what’s most important, you model for your children how to make healthy requests and to learn to be okay with a yes or a no answer.
by: Shelly Walker Shelly@ParentingKeys.com