Why do kids grizzle and whine? Because it works! Like chicks in a nest that pester and peck until their parent regurgitates worm bits down their throats, kids have learned that whining gets them what they want. Do you want to spend the rest of your parenting years trapped with grizzly, whiney kids? No? Then promise yourself, “I am never going to give in to a request made to me in a whiney voice. Or a cranky, bullying one either.”
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When they come at you with, “Mum! Mum! Mum! Muuuuuum!” say, “Sorry, I’m not listening to that. If you want my answer now, it’s no. Pop away, practice your nice polite voice and come back and ask me again.” I doubt it will work straight away – they might just notch up the volume and unpleasantness. But stand your ground and repeat the ‘nice polite voice’ instruction.
And you know what? They will – they will come back and ask you in a nice polite voice. Then you can say, “No!” I’m kidding – you don’t have to be cruel. Listen to them. When they discover that well-mannered requests work well for them and whining never works, you will start to see a shift in tone at you place.
By the way, it is important you model the voice you want. Many parents ask me, “Why does my child grizzle and whine?” – in a grizzly tone of voice of their own. Some mysteries are not that deep. If you whine and grizzle back at them, guess what they will learn? Drag up the acting skills you use for job interviews and visiting relatives, switch on a soft lilting voice without a hint of edge or threat, and say, “When you can speak to me as softly and politely as I’m talking to you, I will listen.”
Attend a Toolbox parenting course
Toolbox courses inspire and equip whānau. They are bursting with great advice, humour and encouragement, offering practical strategies and insights into developmental stages. Parents leave reassured that challenges are common to all families and that they’re not alone on their parenting journey. The courses are run over a number of weeks in a relaxed and conversational small group setting with a trained facilitator. The five courses – Building Awesome Whānau, Baby and Toddler Years, Primary Years, Intermediate Years, and Teenage Years. Find out more and register here.