(Stephanie, you can skip this --- you've already read it, I'm just posting it because I got your permission. ; ) )
Parenting does not come naturally to me.
Surprised? I'm sure not. About three years ago I was looking, in general, for some good parenting ideas. I didn't care much to talk to people that already told me I was doing it all wrong. So I Googled "disciplining toddlers" and other related topics. Eventually, a great lady in my ward directed me to a book called "Love and Logic." For a mom who needs a lot of guidance in discipline, I think this is a great place to start. At least it gets me adding more love into my disciplining and helps me to step back and take more time before I jump on things. But, it's the mom's I watch that have taught me to relax and just laugh when things seem awful, to not worry about the little things, to just let them be. It is the Holy Ghost that has taught me it is better to have broken things than a broken boy and I thank Heavenly Father all the time for that whisper. When things get ruined, I replay that warning in my mind, it brings love back up to the surface. After all, broken things is part of being a mom. As for teaching things, having fun and doing things with my kids, I think that's the part that comes naturally. (Maybe there's a teensy bit of me that is naturally an awesome mom after all --- let's HOPE.)
My two kindergartners are great kids, really, but even great kids have their moments when their mom doesn't deal very well with their attitude. Believe me, I know, because as I said, parenting does not come naturally to me. As much as I LOVE being a mommy, I find motherhood a challenge. Especially when it comes to dealing with whining!
How do you lovingly deal with whining, yet still get it to GO AWAY!?!?
I went back to that book for some ideas. I thought I would share some of my tried-and-tested approaches that I like the results of.
Is their whining so loud it comes out screaming? I remind them that outside voices belong outside. If they don't go outside on their own, I take them. They can come in when they're ready to use their inside voice.
Crying again? About what? Your arm got what? Poked? How? Your brother? Ohhhhh! Bother! I was just introduce to the "Crying Place" and love that idea. I have had them do their crying in their room with the door shut. But any spot (out of earshot) can be designated as a place to freely express their emotions.
I have been known to absentmindedly give my kids each others plates, cups, crayons, etc. I was annoyed enough on afternoon to say, "Oh? You don't want plates!?" I put them back in the cupboard and let them each use a napkin. It only took a few times for them to learn that they can switch their items on their own --- without whining!
How about getting them to do something they are perfectly capable of doing and should be doing and you hear, "I don't want to _____!" Respond lovingly, but matter-of-factly, "I know you don't want to _____, but it has to get done." (Letting them know that you heard and understand them seems to go a long ways.)
Fighting over a toy and you just can't deal with it again? I remove the toy and suggest they find something to do that they can both enjoy. If I feel I must comment about it I might say something in a loving voice, like, "I don't want my two favorite children to fight with each other because of this toy, so I'll just put it up for now. You can try playing with it again when you are a little older and we'll see if you can handle playing with it the right way then.
This is my all-time #1 response to whining --- and it is SO EASY. When one of my kids comes to me whining (usually when my nerves are already fried), I respond in the most loving way possible (taken word-for-word from the book), "I'm sorry, but I don't understand whining." Repeat. Continue to repeat until they talk to you in a normal voice or stomp away --- you might have to recommend the "Crying Place." It takes a little practice and repetition, but it pays off. With the whining gone, it makes me more willing to tend to their needs.
Another sentence I'll sometimes use (in a loving voice still), "I'll talk with you when you're ready to talk to me the way I'm talking to you." (I think this is also a good way to teach them to treat you with respect.)
How about whining at the table? This is my FAVORITE dinner time rule that I made up out of the blue one evening (Eli also LOVES this one). This is spoken with a smile, with love and usually with a hint of warning, "No whining where we're dining." When someone whines at the table one of us reminds the whiner of this rule (yes, even the kids love to help implement this rule). If whining continues, we ask the whiner to please get down from the table, "That's the rule!" simply stated. (Sometimes you have to take them.) They are reminded that we would love to have them come back and eat with us when they are through whining. It really helps with the dinner atmosphere and I don't have to listen to how terrible my cooking is the entire meal. It amazes me that they come back to the table with a different attitude EVERY time. I definitely recommend this one.
So, how do you lovingly deal with whining, yet still get it to GO AWAY!?!?