What to Do About Whining

boyWHINING! When asked, teachers place whining high on their list of behaviors they find frustrating. No doubt parents respond similarly to this behavior. Children whine because it works! That is, adults experience whining as being irritating and want it to stop, so they often give in quickly to a child’s source of whining. Whining is a behavior that can result in big payoffs. In other words, it’s a useful tool for obtaining what one wants. For example, this is a conversation I overheard while shopping this weekend.

Whining child: “I want a Beanie Boo!”
Parent: “Not today.”
Child: “But I want a Beanie Boo.”
Parent: “I just got you a Beanie Boo. You can have a Beanie Boo next time.”
Child: “But I really want a Beanie Boo THIS TIME.”
Frustrated parent: “No!” “I said no!” “Oh, alright here, you can have the Beanie Boo.” “Now stop whining!”

When a behavior produces the desired outcome, it’s a sure bet that we’ll see it again.

There are other reasons for whining as well. Sometimes a child may be tired, hungry or bored. Parents can get in front of these situations by planning activities before or after nap time, packing snacks and play materials such as coloring books or other activities when out and about. Remember, many challenging behaviors can be avoided by thinking ahead and planning.

Challenging behavior can be extinguished by teaching a new skill. Teaching a child to calm down by taking several deep breaths can give the child time to think about a better way to communicate a want or need. Verbally reward your child when you observe the desired behavior. This will serve as a reinforcement for the new behavior. Try not to respond to or give attention to the whining behavior. Let your child know that you are unable to communicate when he or she is whining. Be consistent. When the whining loses its power, it will eventually go away.

I do suspect, however, that many a Beanie Boo has been purchased as the direct result of a whining child.

Katherine Generaux,Community Inclusion Specialist, Partners In Learning

Katherine Generaux,Community Inclusion Specialist, Partners In Learning

Katherine Generaux serves as the center’s Community Inclusion Specialist. In that position she has been effective in modeling appropriate interactions with young children with special needs. Her ongoing presence in the classrooms modeling best practices for infants and toddler is resulting in additional experience while making a positive difference in early childhood programming. She is very aware of what is developmentally appropriate and engaging with the children. Her birth through kindergarten degree and experience are evident in her service to children and families.

 

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Behavior and Development

It is impossible to have a discussion about children and challenging behavior without considering how development factors into the equation. Let’s take your typical two-year-old for example. Everyone knows that the universal mantra for people at this stage in human development is the word “No”. No, no, no, and no, even when they mean yes. Before you begin to wonder if your child is on a path toward a diagnosis of Oppositional Deviance Disorder, you need to understand the reason why we act this way. At about the age of two, sometimes a few months earlier and sometimes a few months later, children begin to see themselves as human beings separate from the person or persons who they have consistently relied on for comfort and safety. There is a conflict going on at this stage. Toddlers know they need and rely on their family to meet their many needs, but at the same time, they feel driven to explore their world and declare themselves as individuals with their own ideas about how their daily experiences should go. It’s a constant tug-of-war in the minds of our two-year-olds, and this is one reason why they are often cranky.

Another reason why people this age are so emotional can be explained by brain development. From birth through the preschool years, children are building neuron brain connections rapidly, especially in that part of the part of the brain where cognitive learning occurs. While this process is taking place, young children are still relying heavily on that part of the brain where we experience emotions.

I often think about how these first attempts at initiating independence mirror that notable adolescent angst teenagers experience as they attempt to assert total independence from their parents. Perhaps you have experiences life with a two-year-old but have not yet experienced the joy of living with a teenager. Well, good luck! Just remember, though, that this is how humans develop. After all, achieving independence IS the ultimate goal parents are seeking for their children.

Katherine Generaux,Community Inclusion Specialist, Partners In Learning

Katherine Generaux serves as the center’s Community Inclusion Specialist. In that position she has been effective in modeling appropriate interactions with young children with special needs. Her ongoing presence in the classrooms modeling best practices for infants and toddler is resulting in additional experience while making a positive difference in early childhood programming. She is very aware of what is developmentally appropriate and engaging with the children. Her birth through kindergarten degree and experience are evident in her service to children and families.

Starting The New School Year Off On The Right Foot

The summer of 2013 is quickly coming to an end, and a new school year is about to begin.  New beginnings offer a wonderful opportunity for families to establish and implement new tools to support good family habits and academic success.

If you intend to make changes to last year’s way of managing the family’s daily routine or behavior expectations, a good strategy is to hold a family meeting.  You can open the meeting by pointing out one or more of the challenges that were faced during the previous year and ask for input.  For example, you could say, “I noticed that last year we were always scrambling to get out the door on time, and everyone seemed grumpy in the car on the way to school.  I wonder what we could do so that we don’t have to experience that daily unhappiness this year.”

You’ll be surprised to discover that even very young children can actively participate in problem-solving and offering ideas for a solution.  Though the adults are ultimately guiding children toward an appropriate solution, when a solution is determined, children tend to feel invested in the new behavior because they took part in developing the change.  For instance, deciding that getting up a half an hour earlier during school mornings might be the arrived at solution.  When resistance is offered later on, children can be reminded the “waking up earlier” rule was agreed upon by every member of the family.

During the family meeting, when changes have been agreed upon by every family member, the new family policy or rule should be written down and reviewed often.   Young children, in particular, have not yet developed the memory capacity we take of granted as adults, and a rule they may remember one day, might be forgotten the next day.  Post the amended routine changes where they are visible to everyone in the family, and invite children to embellish the borders of the document by drawing artwork around it.  This will further invest the child in the new routine. As a family, don’t forget to celebrate the successful transition to the new rule or routine.

When my children were growing up, we held family meetings, and they were usually awful, with someone inevitably stomping out of the room in a dramatic demonstration of theatrical talent.   At these meetings, though, it was more about two parents dictating new rules to children instead of collaborating solutions as a family.   Live and learn.

Katherine Generaux,Community Inclusion Specialist, Partners In Learning

Katherine Generaux serves as the center’s Community Inclusion Specialist. In that position she has been effective in modeling appropriate interactions with young children with special needs. Her ongoing presence in the classrooms modeling best practices for infants and toddler is resulting in additional experience while making a positive difference in early childhood programming. She is very aware of what is developmentally appropriate and engaging with the children. Her birth through kindergarten degree and experience are evident in her service to children and families.

Everyone Needs Privacy, Even Your Child…

I can remember way back when I was a very little girl having a “junk” drawer. This was my special place, no one was allowed to open it but me. My mother never went in it, my sisters were told not to and Dad couldn’t have cared less about it. Many parents struggle with the need to protect their child while still respecting her right to privacy. When safety is paramount, however, a parent needs to learn how to give her child space within established bounds and without compromising trust. This seems trivial, but a child’s need and privilege for privacy is important and should start to be taught even at birth.

One may ask how you teach child privacy at birth. During a diaper change of course, this is a daily opportunity to begin teaching mutual respect and privacy. When you pick up your child let them know “I am picking you up, it is time to change your diaper. Here comes the wipe, it is cold. I am going to clean your bottom now.” This doesn’t seem like much and to some may even sound ridiculous but consider if it were you, wouldn’t you like to know what is going on with your body before it happens?

Showing respect for the privacy of your child at the earliest of ages will set the stage for the rest of their life. Allowing that “junk” drawer or box for all of a child’s special secret stuff will let them know that you respect their privacy, this in turn will teach them that you too have private spaces, places and times that NO CHILDREN ARE ALLOWED.

1. Teach your child that it is okay to say “no” to an adult, even you. Respect your young child’s right to privacy when she wants to use the bathroom by herself or go into a dressing room alone. Even a young child values modesty and privacy. Help your child to understand that parents, teachers and doctors should always ask permission before touching, examining or looking at her in a way that might make her feel uncomfortable.

2. Discourage your child from locking her bedroom door. Many children retreat to the comfort of their bedroom in order to be alone. Make a deal with your child that if the door is closed, no one should enter without first knocking.

3. Work to make your child feel safe. Children will often keep secrets if they feel their safety is threatened. Likewise, they are more likely to keep secrets if they feel that mom or dad might get mad. Explain to your child that secrets can be hurtful and damaging and that while you might not always like what she has to say, you are always available to listen. Also explaining that if you ever feel their safety is threatened by someone or something that you may have to break the privacy contract to keep them safe.

4. Once children reach the teen years there can be varying degrees of the amount of privacy a parent allows depending on the child. James Lehman, MSW says, Privacy is a Privilege, Not a Right If you have a teenager who meets her responsibilities, comes home on curfew, is where she says she’ll be when she said she’d be there, is hanging out with the people with whom she said she would be hanging out, and you have no reason to be suspicious about anything, I suggest you stay out of her room. And I think you should tell her that, too. You can say something like, “I’m not going to interfere with your privacy, because you’re doing so well. I have no reason not to trust you.” That way, she knows she’s being rewarded for her behavior—your lack of interference in her personal space is a direct result of her actions.

However, your kids should know that if they violate the trust and honesty, one of the things that’s going to change is that you are going to be watching them more carefully. And yes, that might mean going through their drawers or closet or looking through their email. But that’s the price they pay for being dishonest and untrustworthy. We all have to learn in life that losing someone’s trust is a very powerful thing. People get fired from their jobs because they’ve done something that violates their boss’s trust, like stolen something from work or used drugs or alcohol while on the job. Trust is not something that can be taken lightly, both inside your home and out. It’s not spying when you decide you have to take extra steps to keep your kids safe from what’s going on in the outside world and from their own poor decisions, especially if you have other children in the home.

Deborah Howell is the Assistant Director for Partners In Learning.

 

Deborah Howell is the Assistant Director of Partners In Learning. Her education includes an associate’s degree from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in early childhood education and a bachelor’s degree from UNC Greensboro in human development and family studies with a concentration in birth-kindergarten. She also holds a master’s degree at UNCG. She also serves as a CBRS therapist for the center.

Environmental Impact On Behavior

Each year, Partners In Learning offers a Disabilities Simulation Forum.  We invite members of the community to experience what day-to-day life might be like if walking, manipulating objects, processing information or coping with sensory overload imposed challenges for an individual.  It is one thing to understand what it might be like to have a disability intellectually, but a whole different understanding is acquired when a person actually experiences the challenges of the disabilities, even if it’s just for a few minutes.  The sensory stimulus overload simulation is my creation.  I bombard participates with noise, smell, bright lights and invite them to sit on irritating-textured chairs while they attempt to construct a puzzle.

While some people are hypersensitive to environmental stimulus, ALL OF US respond to environmental stimulus, whether we’re aware of it or not.  For example, have you ever gone into Walmart without seeing at least one child having a behavioral meltdown?  Think about it; the florescent lighting, the crowds, the noise and the volume of visual stimulus provides sensory overload for most of us!  As classroom teachers and early interventionists, we are very aware of how environment impacts behavior.   Bright primary colors might be conducive in some environments, but if you want your child to take a nap or fall to sleep at night, I suggest walls painted in soft blues or greens.  Over time, children generally mirror the noise level in their environment.  I know one teacher who talks so softly that children lean in to hear what she’s saying.  Her classroom is filled with natural lite, and she responds to a child’s upset with calmness and care.  She has created a very peaceful learning environment.

When your child is exhibiting challenging behavior, be sure to look at environmental factors that me be impacting the behavior.

Katherine Generaux,Community Inclusion Specialist, Partners In Learning

Katherine Generaux serves as the center’s Community Inclusion Specialist. In that position she has been effective in modeling appropriate interactions with young children with special needs. Her ongoing presence in the classrooms modeling best practices for infants and toddler is resulting in additional experience while making a positive difference in early childhood programming. She is very aware of what is developmentally appropriate and engaging with the children. Her birth through kindergarten degree and experience are evident in her service to children and families.