Dealing with Whining Compassionately

Welcome to the April 2013 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Peaceful Parenting Applied

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children.  We hope you enjoy this month’s posts and consider joining us next month when we share about Peaceful Parenting Applied.


Chances are, at some point or another, that tone has come out of your childrens’ mouths. You know the one. It’s the whine that grates on your nerves, making you want to pull your head inside your shirt, cover your ears with your hands, or leave. If you don’t deal with the whine, it just gets longer and louder and more, well, whiney. While you may find yourself wanting to walk outside and scream yourself, there are a few easy tips to keep gentle parents gentle at these times.

Don’t take it personally. This may be easier said than done, especially if the whine continues to include your name. Personally, when I begin to hear the “Moooooooom,” it takes on an entirely new level for me. As much as we may feel disrespected or underappreciated during these times, our children’s behaviors are not about us.

Define the cause. If the whining isn’t about us, what exactly is it about? That is the question of your day. You can’t begin to solve a problem if you don’t know what the problem is. Observe the situation. Think about what may be causing this seemingly annoying behavior, and set about making some changes. I know for my kids, whining signals that they are tired. We need to slow down, cut out some things, go for some quiet, easy going activities.

Connect with your kids. Yes, your child is whining and the last thing you may feel like is being around them, but when your children are exhibiting behaviors such as this, it’s a cry for help. They need you. Take a deep breath. Remember how much you love your children, and be there for them. Perhaps doing something with your child will be enough to break them out of their whining ways.

Actively listen. Everyone has bad days sometimes, and often we just need to have someone listen to us on those days. This is a great time to practice active listening so that your children understand that you ar ethere for them and that you really are listening.

Set personal limits for yourself. It’s okay to say that you are reaching your limit and that you would prefer to be spoken to in a normal voice. If you are having difficulty understanding because of the whining, explain that you can’t understand what your child is saying and that you need to know what they are saying in order to help.

Use play and humor. Try bringing a little levity to the situation by playing or using humor. When our children’s voices begin to take on that whining tinge, my husband has a difficult time understanding them. His go to phrase is “Hmmm. I couldn’t really understand what you said, but it kind of sounded like, ‘Daddy, you are the greatest!'” It hasn’t failed him yet. They will either laugh or take a deep breath to speak clearly.

Take control of your actions and words. As much as the whining may be driving us a little batty, we are still in control of our own actions. We get to choose how we act or react.

Remeber compassion. At the end of the day, think about the relationship you have with your kids. Every parent/child relationship is just taht – a relationship. remember to have compassion, both for your children and for yourself.

photo credit: polywen via photopin cc


APBC - Authentic ParentingVisit Living Peacefully with Children and Authentic Parenting to find out how you can participate in next month’s Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, when we discuss self-love!


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The Benefits of I-Messages

Photo by Paul Stocker

I-messages seem simple enough, but the benefits that come from them are anything but simple.

  • We are more likely to influence another person to change an undesired behavior by using I-messages. Because they are less threatening, I-messages are less likely to provoke resistance or make the other person feel bad.
  • We place the responsibility for changing the behavior or action on the other person. Stating an I-message brings attention to the problem at hand without dictating how it must be rectified, trusting the other person to repect our needs and allowing them to take ownership of their actions. We relinguish any attempt at controlling the other person and allow them to take responsibility for their own actions.
  • When we use I-messages, we model honesty. Honest, open communication from one person in a relationship promotes reciprocal treatment from the other.
  • We open ourselves to the other person. Not only do we show that we are a feeling person with needs, we show that we can also trust the other person to be cognizant of our needs. By sharing of ourselves, we strengthen our relationship.

myth: cooperation takes time…

Many parents believe that cooperating and problem solving with their children takes more time than more authoritarian parenting methods. However, this is actually the opposite of the truth.

  • Many conflicts only take a few minutes to resolve when working with all parties.
  • Problems which take longer to solve usually stay solved when cooperative solutions are used.
  • Cooperative solutions save time since children are invested in the solutions and parents do not need to remind or enforce solutions which the children are not in agreement with.
  • As children and parents learn how to cooperate and to trust that their needs and feelings will be respected, they became more practiced at finding cooperative solutions.

taking back childhood…

Childhood has changed. Endless hours of playing in dirt, working beside parents, and sitting down to a dinner with your family has been replaced by a mad rush to get to the next activity, run through drive-through for a bite to eat, and then sitting down to watch advertisement filled television. Interactions between parent and child are limited and stressful. Instead of building a life-long relationship with our children, families are being driven apart and individuals find themselves looking to fill those roles with what the media deems as necessary. 

Nancy Carlsson-Paige addresses these issues and more in her book, Taking Back Childhood. Building off of the work of Jean Piaget and Marshall Rosenberg, she has presented the concepts of consensual living in a gentle, non-confrontational way which would appeal to those gentle parents who aren’t quite on board with the paradigm shift of consensual living. Addressing topics such as age and developmentally appropriate behavior, I-statements, active listening, win-win conflict resolution, and descriptive observations rather than judgements, Carlsson-Paige has a firm understanding of non-violent communication.

She has also linked much of the downfall of families to the media marketed violence children experience, citing a drastic change in marketing to children during Reagan’s administration when limitations on marketing and media were lifted. Today’s children are viewing an unprecedented amount of television and movies, all conveniently chock full of advertisements. Instead of playing creatively, they are learning how marketers dictate that they should play, with mass marketed toys which play for them.

The author’s easy going writing style is an assest to this book, along with the strength of her subjects. However, it’s my opinion that she has tried to take on too many topics in one book. Both aspects, consensual living and marketed media, would make stronger books on their own. The constant switching between topics detracts from the finer points and takes away from the strength of the ideas.