Preschoolers


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Highlights
Why preschoolers whine
What to do about whining


Why preschoolers whine
Your preschooler relies on adults for almost everything — food, drink, love, toys, transportation, you name it. He has to get an adult's attention to obtain the things he needs, and that can be a challenge. A whine is the sound of a child who feels powerless and is pitching his request in higher and higher tones to get someone to pay attention to him. "Children do what works, and a whiner is looking for a response — any response," says Jane Nelsen, co-author of Positive Discipline for Preschoolers. So if a positive response isn't forthcoming, a negative one will do just fine.

What to do about whining
Define it. Before you pin on your No Whining button and draw a line in the sand, make sure your preschooler knows what you're talking about. Adults often assume that children know what whining is and realize how awful it sounds — but that's not necessarily the case. Label whining when you hear it, and ask your child to use his regular voice instead. If he has trouble hearing the difference, demonstrate it for him. Use dolls to play-act an exchange between a whiny child and his exasperated parent (or dust off your thespian skills to do a role-playing exercise with your preschooler). Explain that whining sounds annoying and makes people stop listening. Practice "good" and "not so good" voices together — hearing you at your whiniest will probably elicit a good laugh from your preschooler.

Acknowledge your child's need for attention. Preschoolers sometimes resort to whining when they've tried and failed to get their parent's ear. That's why you'll often hear it when you're trying to talk with a friend, balance your checkbook, or keep track of where you are in a recipe. In short, any time you're focusing on something else and your preschooler needs (or thinks he needs) your help is prime time for whining.

Whenever your child asks for something in a pleasant way, try to respond to him as immediately as you can. Of course, you don't want to encourage your preschooler to "need" you every time you strike up a conversation with someone, so make sure you explain this to him. "If it's really important, politely interrupt me, without whining, and I won't put you off. But if you can wait, then please do!" If you're in the middle of something, take a second to acknowledge his need, give him a ballpark estimate for when you'll respond ("Honey, I know you need help with your puzzle; hang on for two minutes and I'll sit down and tackle it with you"), and follow through. Make sure the wait is a realistic length: You can expect your preschooler to be patient for as many minutes as he is old (three minutes if he's 3, for instance). Don't just say "later," which is vague, at best. And be sure to praise him for waiting when he does.

Show him a better way to address the problem. Sometimes kids whine because they can't express their feelings, so help your preschooler identify his when you can. You might say to him, for instance, "I can see that you're upset. Is it because I can't take you to the park right now?" This will help you get a conversation going.

Be sure to carve out regular time to read a story together, play a game, or just talk — without your preschooler having to complain first. Thank him when he remembers to ask nicely, too. When he sees that other methods of voicing his needs produce results — and that whining doesn't — the whines will taper off.

Avoid triggers. Kids often get cranky and whiny when they're hungry or tired. Taking a hungry preschooler grocery shopping before dinner and expecting him to understand that cookies will spoil his appetite is like putting a new trampoline in the kitchen and expecting him not to jump on it until the soufflß is done: It's a foolproof recipe for disaster. Feed him before you go, or pack some healthy snacks he can eat on the way or in the store. Likewise, life will be easier for both of you if you can avoid dragging him on errands — or even to the zoo, for that matter — at the end of a long day.

Respond consistently. Whether or not his demand is reasonable, it's important to let your preschooler know that his way of asking just won't cut it. Say something like, "I can't understand you when you talk like that. Please use your normal voice and I'll be happy to listen to what you're saying." Keep your tone and facial expression neutral (letting yourself get riled will only feed the fire). Some preschoolers respond better to visual cues; try holding your hands over your ears and squinting your eyes in mock pain to signal that you hear whining (cup your ears and smile serenely when you don't). Most importantly, keep saying or doing the same thing, and don't give in. "Picture yourself as a Las Vegas slot machine," says veteran mom Lisa Levi. "Your child pulls the lever and pulls the lever again. One win — even after 12 losses — will show him that a slot machine is a good bet for making money, and that's not what you want him to learn."

As important as responding consistently to a whine is acknowledging a switch: When your child does use his normal voice, respond to him immediately so he learns that this works. Don't feel obligated to give him what he wants because he asks without whining, though. Just be empathetic and appreciative. "I'm sorry that you can't play now, but it's time for bed. Thanks for asking so nicely!"

Be — or at least pretend to be — nonchalant when the whining goes into overdrive. The last thing you want your preschooler to learn is that whining in public is a good way to get what he wants, so stick to your principles. No matter where you are, whom you're with, or what kind of tone your preschooler uses, keep your cool. Don't blow up or give in ("Oh, go ahead, do whatever you want!"). Even if it gets you immediate relief from that annoying whine, you'll pay in the long run by hearing more and more of it.To share your thoughts and concerns about your child's behavior problems with other parents, see our bulletin boards.

2 Responses to “Preschoolers”

  1. panjang no la...buat ringkasan sket..ala2 rumusan gitu... :).

  2. iu says:

    kalau saya wat ringkasan nanti sume dok pahe.. baik baca & diri sendiri wat ringkasan..hihihi... ;p~

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