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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Learning to Self-Regulate Starts Early On

“I hate you!”  That’s what my granddaughter told her mother recently.  “You’re the worst Mom in the whole world, and I hate you.”  Hurtful?—Yes.   Disrespectful?—Absolutely, and both these points were addressed once my granddaughter was able to calm down from her highly, emotionally-unregulated state of mind.   The outburst was caused by a misunderstanding between my granddaughter, her classroom teacher and her mother.  Cecilia was supposed to go into the after-school program while her mother volunteered to work the “drive-line” during after-school pick up time.  Instead, Cecilia was directed to the drive line for pick-up as was her typical daily routine.  When her mother did not arrive, Cecilia remained in the drive-line alone and was then sent to wait in the office.  She became scared, yet held herself together until she was reunited with her mom.  When they got in the car, Cecilia, age seven, lost control of her emotions.

Self-regulation is a learning process.  Until a child has the ability to self-regulate, cognitive learning cannot take place.  Many parents do not realize this, believing instead that a child’s cognitive knowledge is the key to success for a child entering elementary school.  In reality, a child who enters kindergarten knowing how to count, write their name and recite the alphabet but is unable to follow directions, maintain composure and control his or her actions will probably not be successful academically.  Therefore, social-emotional development is AT LEAST as important as cognitive development.

Cecilia is an emotional child.  She has always been an emotional child.  Fortunately, she is very mature in many other ways and is able to self-regulate most of the time, though she is still learning and will continue to learn this skill throughout her childhood.  She will need to depend on the help and support of the adults around her to achieve this goal.

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.

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.

Winning the Bedtime Battle

Well it is that time again…While many parents smile and cannot wait for school to begin, there are many who feel as if the battles have begun.  What battles you say?  The battle parents fight when they try to conform children to daily routines.

Routines are something most adults feel makes the world a much saner place.  We have set times to eat, sleep, work and then start all over again.  However, many parents struggle with maintaining a consistent sleep routine for their child.  Children fighting sleep and then consequently fighting getting up in the morning, causes despair in both parent and child.  All is not lost!  There are some very simple strategies parents can put in place that will help ease their child into a sleeping routine without the fuss.

Parents need to make sure to take charge of routines and set limits.  Parents sometimes defer to children to make decisions when parents still need to be in control.  Children want limits and want to feel secure knowing parents have nicely managed important aspects of their lives.

Children need to be in bed early enough so that when morning comes, there is little difficulty getting them out of bed.  Sometimes that means moving their bedtime 30 minutes earlier each week until children are able to rise and shine with little fuss. It is also important to keep bedtime consistent once the time has been established.  Life happens, so some days it may be nearly impossible to get to bed on time. However, this should be as infrequent as possible.

Don’t try to put your child to bed without allowing them time to wind down first.  It is difficult as adults to go from active to sleep.  Our minds work overtime and our bodies twist and turn.  Children are no different.  Give them an opportunity to calm themselves and download from the day.  Allowing them to engage in quiet activities help them to quiet their minds; activities like reading or listening to calming music helps.  But establishing this calming time needs to be an integral part of the child’s nightly routine.  The 4 B’s -bath, brushing teeth, books and bed is an important and predictable routine that should start about an hour before bedtime.

Parents can still give a child a lot of choices for bedtime that makes them feel they have a say in their nightly routine and it makes the nightly routine entertaining.  Give your child choices on how they want to move from bath to bed.  Would you like to walk backwards or forwards, do you want to hop or walk, how many stories, how many kisses?

Finally, create a comfortable sleep environment.  Remove the distracting electronics (TV, cell phones, games and gadgets) and replace them with soft huggable items.  And allow your child to self soothe and fall asleep on their own.  When we rest with children to help them fall asleep, or allow them to watch TV, they become dependent on that stimulus, so if they wake up during the night, they expect that same stimulus to be there.  Teaching them to fall asleep on their own is one of the greatest lessons in independence you can teach a child.

Although it may seem that getting your children to go to bed is a battle that must be fought, it doesn’t have to be if you establish predictable and fun bedtime routines.

Jeannie Morgan-Campola is a Board Member of Partners In Learning

Jeannie Morgan-Campola has been in the Early Childhood field for 25 years in which she held many different positions.  She began working as a part-time instructor for Rowan-Cabarrus Community College in the year 2000 and became a full-time instructor 6 years ago.  She was promoted to Program Chair of the Early Childhood and School Age Education Programs in the summer of 2012.  I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in Individual and Family Studies: Applied Child Development, and two Master’s Degrees: one in Adult Education and Distance Learning and  the other in Early Childhood Education.

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.