Question: How do you handle whining?

On June 8th a friend writes,

Do you have any advise or book suggestions when it comes to whining? I just picked up “Easy to Love Difficult to Discipline” hoping that helps.

I allow “whining” because in truth children are often so disempowered it seems unfair to me to require they do not voice their displeasure. That said, of course “whining” occasionally gets to me and I snap or demand the child to stop. My feelings of overwhelm with whining are usually triggered when I’m hungry or tired or upset or preoccupied about something else.

I apologize to my children after I snap (when I’m ready to do so; usually within about fifteen minutes).  I notice my children “whine” less and less the more freedoms I give them and the more I let them be authors of their own life. My policies and my genuine apologies go a long way when my kids are cranky and tired and they start “whining” and I ask them to please be quiet because I am having a hard time. They almost always experience this as a reasonable request and through their well-developed empathy they will be silent and give me the time I need.

This works far better than back when I used to engage primarily in policing “whining”.[1. I will also add it is interesting we designate children’s vocal protestations as “whining” and give it a negative slant. When adults object to policies they believe are unfair we do not categorically designate it as “whining” unless we feel a degree of entitlement about their rights to complain.]

With regards to your book title, I should elaborate that I don’t aim to discipline (I stop my kids from harming and breaking things they shouldn’t harm or break, but I do not punish them). When it comes to “bad behavior” I try to look at the underlying issues happening for all parties and correct those. This usually makes discipline irrelevant. That said, Ralph and I still employ “disciplinary” measures because that’s how we were raised (and that’s how most people we know parent) and it’s hard to break our programming.  We keep trying.

We are learning to practice Consensual Living and it’s going pretty well, although since I am a beginner I am not perfect. Here are two sites/blogs that introduce the concepts and have book reviews.

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