Do you struggle with a child who whines? Do you wish it would stop? Ginger Plowman, author of Don’t Make Me Count to Three, and homeschooling mother of two boys, has put together a very helpful kit to help parents address this unpleasant problem, appropriately called No More Whining!
I appreciate that Plowman deals with the heart in whining, not just the behavior itself. Her method is a very practical way to help children ages 3 and up to break this bad habit and learn how to communicate in a right way instead. I highly recommend No More Whining to any parent who desires to help their child stop whining. Plowman’s method is simple, positive and gets to the heart of the matter.
The No More Whining kit includes a short booklet for parents that outlines the problem, wrong and right ways to handle whining, a three step plan to conquer it, starting late, avoiding power struggles, when and when not to use the plan, and being consistent. A digital timer that counts down from three minutes is also included. It’s designed to be worn around your child’s wrist like a watch and is an important part of the method (which I will describe shortly). Also included is a great book to read to your child called, “Whining Will” which tells the story of a little boy named Will who whines to get what he wants. His mother helps him communicate positively using the No Whine method.
In the No More Whining booklet for parents, Plowman states, “Children who whine in an attempt to get what they want lack healthy communication skills. Parents mustn’t blame the child for this behavior. Rather, they must understand that children whine simply because they are allowed to whine. Therefore, the fault lies not with the child, but with the parent. Parents are often responsible for the habits of their children. Moms and dads who permit their children to whine (by ignoring or giving in) hinder them from learning to communicate appropriately, in a way that pleases and brings happiness to all involved. Children who use demanding forms of communication to express their wants and needs are in bondage to their emotions and lack of self control. An enslaving addiction to whining does not make for a happy child. However, children who learn to communicate properly learn that self-control is a prerequisite for contentment, joy and good living.”
I don’t believe that every time a child whines it means the parents have allowed it and therefore the fault lies squarely on their shoulders. I think there are too many variables to make that assumption, not the least being that children are sinners just like parents and will fail often, just like parents. However, that said, certainly as parents we are biblically responsible for teaching our child how to communicate properly and should be doing that. If we’re honest with ourselves, often our child does whine because we allow it, and it’s not something we should ignore.
So how does the plan work? Here’s an example. Your child comes up to you in the kitchen, whining for food. “Mommmmmyyyyyyy, I want a cookie!” You respond by asking him a few simple questions, such as, “Are you speaking in a self-controlled voice?” You remind him that you love him and won’t give him what he wants when he whines, help him put the 3 minute timer on his wrist, and have him return to you when the buzzer goes off, asking you again for a cookie, but in his self controlled voice.
What I love about this approach is that gently rebukes, then instructs, and then allows the child to try again. The child learns that whining isn’t an acceptable form of communicating (and consequently not something that will get him what he wants) and how he should communicate instead. The 3 minute timer is a wonderful tool to use to help the child gain self-control and even anticipate your approving response when he asks correctly. You can have your child wear it only when the situation presents itself, or they can wear it throughout the day.
One word of caution that Plowman gives is that not all whining is the same. In the No More Whining booklet she states, “If your child asks for something with a self-controlled voice and the answer is ‘no’ and then the child whines, you have an issue of disrespect and defiance on your hands. This is not the time to use the three-step plan, but to administer the consequences.”