I’m not going to lie or sugar-coat this at all — if your child generally whines or complains when they aren’t getting their way, or argues with you often; trying the method I’m about to outline will cause things to get worse before they get better. If you’re ready to commit to this method and stay consistent for a couple of weeks, you will see a positive change. Gaining control of the situation, keeping your thoughts positive, being consistent, and knowing when to walk away are the keys to successfully stop whining and complaining.
1.Gaining Control Of The Situation
All children of all ages whine, complain, and act mean or rude at some point or another. They are usually trying to get your attention, or to get their own way. If you react to whining and complaining you are putting your child in control. This is true even if you don’t give in because you are still proving that it affects you and gets attention (negative attention is better than no attention). It means when your kid is mad … he knows how to make you tick.
Parents frequently react to whining and complaining, or rude behaviour because lets face it — its frustrating! If anybody knows that, it’s me. When you react while you’re frustrated with your child’s behaviour you may yell, say things you don’t mean, or give in. This means you’ve lost control.
The key is to not engage in arguments with our kids. A guideline to follow is this:
If you have responded to your child about the same subject more than three times you are officially in an argument with them.
It’s time for you to tell them “This discussion is over”, and end it.
Yelling, giving in, and saying things you don’t mean may stop the negative behaviour for the moment but this is a short-term solution. In the long run, your son is learning that whining, complaining, and being rude is a good way to get attention from you or to get their way.
How to Ignore Whining and Complaining
1. Stay calm by changing your thoughts.
It’s easier to be calm if you can stop thinking about how your child is acting in the situation. Changing your thoughts to more positive ones can help with this. Try looking at the situation from your daughters point of view, instead of judging her behaviour think about what she might be feeling.
Instead of thinking: “She always gives me such a hard time! I don’t know why I bother doing fun things with her!”
Tell yourself: “We had such a busy day, she must be really over tired. How can I help her?”
Instead of thinking: “Why does she always do this to me”
Tell yourself: “She must be very overwhelmed right now. She’s having a hard time”
Instead of thinking: “Here we go again. What a terrible start to the day”
Tell yourself: “I won’t let this get to me. I am going to stay calm.”
It can take some practice to get good at this skill, but it is well worth it to try. When you change your thoughts and stay calm, you are in control of the situation. Over time you will teach your daughter that you are not going to waste time arguing with her , and that her behaviour cannot change your mood.
2. Be Prepared and Be Consistent
If you plan to start ignoring whining and complaining you must be ready to ignore ALL whining and complaining. When you always ignore whining and complaining, over time your son will learn that this is not an effective way to get attention, or to change your mood.
I say things will get worse before they get better for this reason exactly. If you usually are reactive to rude remarks, complaining, and whining now, as you begin ignoring the behaviour you may find for the first week or so your son acts out more. This is because this technique has always worked for him before. When it stops working, he may try to up the anti, to get his sought after result. It takes time to unlearn this so don’t be surprised if he is rude and complaining more often in an attempt to get a reaction from you and regain the control that you now have.
Tell him that you are going to be ignoring him : ” I will not listen to you complain about not wanting to go to school. I will be ignoring this behaviour now.”
Once you have said it you MUST stick to what you just said.
Direct him to something positive with a first-then statement: ” First get ready for school, then you can play on your tablet.”
As soon as he behaves well or does what you have asked give him praise: ” Thank you for getting ready for school. You did a good job listening to me. Now you can go get your tablet”
Give him the positive attention within the first few seconds of him doing what was asked. Even if there’s still some whining happening or it took him a long time to stop and listen, it is STILL important to be positive and celebrate even the smallest efforts. That positive attention feels really good and will help encourage him next time.
3. Know When To Walk Away
There are going to be times when the whining and complaining does not stop, no matter how much you ignore it. When this happens it is important to know the first sign of losing your patience or getting angry and walk away. Walking away can help you stay in control of the situation. You can take a small break and re-think about the situation, ensuring you stay in control and don’t react to any hurtful comments.
Decide on a “walk away” spot ahead of time so you know where you’re going to go. You may want to go to your bedroom, the bathroom, or the door step. Your walk away spot should be far enough away from the situation that you will be able gain control of your feelings. You will be able to return to the situation with a fresh perspective once you have had a couple minutes to calm down.
Knowing when to walk away also helps teach your child a positive strategy to dealing with anger, our actions speak louder than words.
If you follow these steps, over time you will spend less time arguing with your child and more time doing things you enjoy together.
Some Behaviours Should NEVER Be Ignored
Certain behaviours should never be ignored. If your daughter is attempting to hurt herself or others, being destructive, or putting the safety of anyone at risk, it is important to react right away. Some parents choose to use time out in these situations, or remove a child’s privileges. It is up to you, as the parent to decide what the most effective reaction is for your daughter. The important part is to remain as calm as possible throughout the situation.
Also, if your child is on the autism spectrum, like my oldest, be aware that this is not a way to deal with meltdowns or sensory issues. During a meltdown your child is not in control of his actions and he needs your guidance. You know your child best and are the best one to determine whether or not this technique will be right for your family. Children having tantrums, whining, and complaining will be looking for attention so you may notice your child is looking to you for a reaction or personally attacking you (“you’re the worst mom ever!”) . A child who is having a meltdown will no longer care about anything happening around him.