Remember last year a friend and fellow blogger, Jess, and I wrote a short series of posts about the realities of living with young children and being mostly at home with them full time (even if we do work or study as well in there somewhere)? Well, we’re bringing it back. Perhaps it’s a sign that we’re both finding the children a touch trying and the realities are biting particularly harshly just at the moment.
This first post of the second series of Reality Bites is all about the whingeing. I think five year olds might bring a new highs to the world of competitive whingeing. It’s something about the pitch of their voices, the particularly drawn out vowels (Muuuuuuuuuuuuum!) and the sheer consistency of it. For Miss Five it begins at about 6.30am and continues until 7.30pm, with a break for the hours she attends kinder. Apparently she NEVER whinges, whines, complains or acts out in any way. What’s with that?! Couldn’t she get a least a small part of her whingeing quota out on someone else?
Now one clear trigger for this excess whingeing for Miss Five is tiredness. She’s the kind of kid that just needs her sleep and if she doesn’t get it the end of the day can be complete torture for all of us. Add to that it’s the end of the year and all kids are more tired than usual (aren’t they) and in need of the rest and lack of scheduling the holidays will provide. I look forward to those slow mornings and our beach holiday in the hope that the whining too might subside at least a little. Of course I also dread the holidays just a bit because there will be no kinder to break things up and provide some solace for her and the rest of us.
Our strategy to deal with the whingeing has been one straight out of the Parenting for Dummies handbook, bribery! If she doesn’t whinge all day she gets a jelly bean. It helps a little as a gentle reminder that the voice is edging towards that terrifying pitch and the vowels are becoming dangerously elongated. It’s generally enough to pull her back into line for a while at least, but I must say that packet of jelly beans has lasted a LONG time. Of course bribery for good behave is a clear no-no for many parenting experts…. it’s a good thing I claim no expertise in this endeavour so I can get away with it. However I have done a little research on the whole why kids whine thing and here are a few things I came up with.
1. Kids whine to get attention, any kind of attention. Solution: make sure they are getting some time with you doing something of their choosing everyday (the website said 2×10 mins with each parent per child per day, but I think you do what you can when you can). But most importantly DON’T give them any attention (good or bad) when they whine and definitely don’t give them the thing they are whining about. That seems like good advice, just walk into another room and ignore it. Of course you need to set this up by saying that they are old enough to know how to ask nicely for something and be okay if they’re told no.
2. Some suggest that whining is a signal for something else altogether, for a sense of being disconnected or loneliness. In this case actually giving close attention and physical contact might be necessary. This seemed more likely perhaps for younger children. You can read more here.
3. Don’t you just love when expert advice directly contradicts each other! However, I did find this website, which I liked a lot. It identifies a whole series of reasons why kids whinge and how we can deal with them.
4. Whingeing can go on for years, many years. Some kids whinge and whine well into their teen years.. That is not a thought that gives me any comfort.
But it all honesty, I never find parenting advice as terrific as it sounds. Real life is complicated and being consistent with whatever plan you have in place becomes difficult. And then of course kids change constantly so what was working all goes out the window from one month to the next. I just try to do what we feel is right for our kids at that time.
Have you got whingers at home? How do you cope with it? Tell me you whingeing stories.