But, I don’t want to, Mommy!
It’s not fair!
She was mean to me!
He won’t share!
Some days seem like they are filled to the brim with a house full of whining children! And that sound-gah! The sound of higher pitched, loathing and groaning. It’s like nails on a chalkboard, especially around 4 o’clock in the evening. Right when we are all waiting for dinner and could really use a dose of daylight savings – even for just that moment!
A friend asked me at our neighborhood playground the other day, “How do you handle all the whining? I only have one and you have four!” While she prefaced her questions with curiosity and not judgment, it still caught me off guard. Oh…you can hear them, too? It’s funny how during our days, within our routines, we can almost tune out the sounds of chaos around us. Until an outsider points out the loudspeaker/cacophony that we’ve somehow muted.
Do you have those motherhood caveats that you’ve heard an older, wiser momma say at some point and you just sort of always hold onto? When I only had one precious baby, I heard a friend once say, “Whining is like anger being pushed through a tiny hole!” I tucked that jewel away for future years!
Gauging their hearts
What is truly going on when the kids seem to be stuck on a higher octave of complaining and frustration? That’s the real question always lurking in the background throughout a lot of my days. You see, we are entrusted with these precious people who come with absolutely no tools to manage their emotions when they are born. Have you ever caught yourself trying to reason with a crying baby, or negotiate with a toddler? It feels futile, right? As parents, we get to guide them in building their tool belt of emotional intelligence.
I have said (or yelled) “please, STOP WHINING” countless times in my home. You know what? It usually doesn’t work. That is because the whining isn’t typically the real issue at hand for my children. It’s my issue, of course! I just want peace and quiet so I can finish that last article in my magazine, or so I can actually hear what they’re saying on the podcast as I make dinner! Please, just go play with your dozens of toys that I’ve organized for your sake!
The real issue is what lies beneath the surface. What is truly going on in their hearts? Here are a few things I do when I finally notice the whining in out of control and there’s more need of self-control with my children.
What can we do?
Take time to talk individually to each child. I’ll pull them aside to do something I know they value, like read a book, or have a cookie. Then, once I’ve got them relaxed I’ll ask what is going on in their hearts or mind? I’ve noticed girls usually resonate with heart term and boys with the mind. What they share is quite telling of their angst and thus, whining lately. We usually then talk about a game plan moving forward. How can I help them and how can they help themselves have more self-control?
See if they’re tired. Sometimes you just gotta go to bed!
Feed them. Especially for my growing children, food is essential! If they seem to be irritable, I’ll ask myself when was the last time we paused to nourish our bodies? Bring out the fruit and nut platter! Putting food on the table brings us all together and resets our day.
Teaching emotional intelligence to our children is no job for the faint at heart, but for the cultivator of hearts – which is you! Children are a gift, a great reward. I hope you can keep that in your heart the next time you are met with whiny resistance. Stay strong, mama!