Dr. Susan Rutherford (MOM): I think that anytime you set limits with your child that child will push against the limits pretty hard, especially at the beginning, and whine a lot. If you end up giving into your kid when she acts inappropriately, she will recognize that this whining technique works. That will set the stage for her to do it over and over again and her behavior will end up driving her parents crazy.
Here's what parents need to remember early on: don’t give in to whining or manipulative tears. Instead, give her an option. "If you can ask me nicely without whining, then we can talk about this and figure this problem out. But if you’re going to continue to whine or cry, nothing is going to happen."
Now, kids will test you over and over about limits until they see that you really mean it. It’s very important that once you set the stage for the child about not whining, you stick to it without any exceptions.
MOLLY: What do you do about the crying?
MOM: If she cries because she's not getting her own way, then the parents should tell her that she needs to go to her room to cry. If she refuses to go to her room then the parent can go into mom and dad's own room or somewhere else away from her until she's finished. The parent should say to this child, “When you’re ready to talk to me about these issues without whining, I’m more than happy to discuss them with you and come to a solution, but I’m not going to do this while you’re whining.”
MOLLY: Some of the things we’ve use for not whining and crying have been sticker charts.
MOM: You can absolutely do that and it’s a very good thing. It’s always good to make things concrete for little kids because that’s how they think. So if this mom gets a sticker chart and mark it when the child doesn’t whine (making it a positive reward rather than a punitive record), she'll want to point it out verbally to the child that she did a nice job and allow her to add a sticker to the chart. After she gets a certain amount of stickers, she’ll then get to pick out a new book or something... Some sort of recognition that she’s handling things well in a grown-up way. Kids really like that.
MOLLY: Another thing I’ve heard of doing is to have a calendar and mark one day of the week that the child can be alone with the mother. This child has a brother and the mom already recognizes that there’s a lot of jealousy and sibling rivalry, maybe time alone with mom would help her attitude?
MOM: That would be a great reward for this type of behavior change: the time alone with the parent. I think that’s a great idea. Parents should gear it towards whatever makes sense in their own family.
I do think it’s essential that this mom....
Read the rest of Dr. Rutherford's expert advice at Conversations With My Mother.com
MOM: Dr. Susan Rutherford is a Clinical Psychologist who has been in practice for over 30 years. She has degrees from Duke University, New York University (NYU), the University of Denver.
MOLLY: Molly is Dr. Rutherford's younger daughter and the mother of two children under six.
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