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Kids whine for a variety of reasons -- to wear you down, to make you feel guilty, for reassurance and out of pure habit. Whatever the reason, whining is unattractive at best. If whining is an issue, then the way you are dealing with it isn't working -- for you or your child.
The following acronym, STOP, will help remind you how to respond -- rather than react -- to your child's whining:
Slow down your reaction time. Don't answer complaints until you feel calm.
Take responsibility for your end of the equation. Ask yourself, "What is it I am doing -- positively or negatively -- that is feeding into my child's tendency to whine?"
One-liners should be prepared in advance. I like to respond to my child's whining by saying, "I will discuss this with you once you ask me without whining."
Plan ahead. For instance, I have a tendency to cave in because I feel guilty when I say no to my kids. To help me be firm, I remind myself that it's in my kids' best interest to hear the word no.
I am a great believer in dealing with problems as if you're on the same team as your child. If your child whines, I suggest you ask her, "How can I help you stop whining?" Remember, habits are hard to break, and it will take creative planning, confidence in your little one's ability to make positive changes and time before any progress is made.
TIP: Ending whining is only part of the problem. At the same time we need to teach our kids more effective ways of communicating with us and with others.
Cathryn Tobin, M.D., is a pediatrician, midwife and a member of the Canadian Pediatric Society and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons. Her new book The Parent's Problem Solver: Smart Solutions for Everyday Discipline and Behavior Problems was published by Random House. Dr. Tobin has been speaking on parenting issues for more than 20 years. She lives with her husband and four children in Ontario.