By Fiona Lohrenz
We all know how draining and irritating a whining child can be, especially in a day care environment where a chorus of multiple whiners can seriously challenge your sanity. A full blown, short lived tantrum is way preferable to the constant, ongoing, nerve grating torture that is a whiny child. Fear not, it is possible to deal with the offending whiner and restore some semblance of peace and tranquillity.
Hunger, tiredness, boredom and feeling unwell are factors that can precipitate whining sessions. A substantial reduction in the whine concert can occur when you identify if any of the above are triggers. Unfortunately, whining is a very unattractive trait that, if left to its own devices, can become a method of communicating which may last for many years. While there is no definitive cure for whining here are some tips to help prevent many incidents.
Oftentimes a child can begin the whine process as a final, desperate attempt to attract attention. They are demanding adult recognition via this annoying method as a last resort. This is your chance to 'lend your ear'. Listening to what kids are trying to say can often head off the irritating behavior. So, no matter how busy you are stop what you are doing, get down to their level and acknowledge the child. If necessary, spend some one on one time helping with a puzzle or reading a story. Sometimes simply paying constructive attention to these little individuals can lead to peaceful times.
Discovering how whining sounds can help children understand the difference between various tones of voice. They need to be taught that people don't like, and won't listen to a whiny voice because it is not pleasant. Use role play or record them so they can conceptualise the difference between a whiny and normal voice thus helping them understand the negative effect of the former. Allowing a child to hear himself may help him grasp the idea that whining isn't so hot. Normal voice usage should be praised also to reinforce this positive behavior.
A child will whine when she is unable to express herself. Instead of reprimanding a child in these instances try to help her verbalize her feelings or needs. Help her with the verbage so she is encouraged to tell you what is wrong. The child will have less reason to whine when she has the opportunity to discuss her feelings and needs. The realisation that talking about her issues is more productive than whining will result from your positive attention.
Distraction is a great tool when a child is whining. Completely switching the subject and animatedly pointing out something unique and fun can stop the whines dead in their tracks. 'Did you see that squirrel out there?' Also, recognise when a kid is heading towards boredomsville... a bored child is a whiney child. Anticipate tedium and introduce a fun and absorbing activity. A busy child won't have time to contemplate whining.
A child seeking recognition recognises any attention as a success so don't do negative attention. Try not to shout. Never label a child a whiner - this is not a standard or expectation you want to set for them. Never capitulate and remain calm. Giving in after 20 minutes of incessant whining sends a message to the child that persisting with this behavior pays off. They must realise that only a normal voice elicits a positive response. It's tough but stay the course and you could have a positively serene environment.