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5 Practical Steps for Parents: From Whining and Crying to Thinking and Reasoning

5 Practical Steps for Parents: From Whining and Crying to Thinking and Reasoning

Many times in my life, I have seen children and teenagers whine, stick out their lip, and cry to get what they want. I always think that they are behaving this way because they have learned that this behavior works. They wouldn’t do it otherwise. An article titled, Why Kids Whine and How to Stop Them states, According to Bay Area pediatrician Laurel Schultz, kids whine for a very simple reason. It works. “Whining gets the parent’s attention,” Schultz says. “A high-pitched whine is effective because a parent can’t not attend to it.”

So, how do we help our kids, from an early age, find a different way to communicate?

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1. Model good behavior

In the same article mentioned above, the author explains how it’s important to answer children with “I-statements” and then explain how you would like them to ask for something. For example, let’s say your child is whining or crying and saying he wants a toy at the store. He even puts out his lip and says, “Pleeeeeeease…..” You would take a deep breath and say, “I don’t like it when you ask for things this way. Please ask me in a normal voice and we can discuss this.” Staying calm and focusing on your child at that moment provides a good role model for your child.

2. Prevention at the onset

Sometimes in our busy and hectic lives, we don’t have time to notice those little warnings that a child is giving us. If we can become more mindful and aware of situations that cause our children to act out, we can prevent it from even happening. For example, if you are shopping and you know that going by the toy store, candy shop, etc. is going to result in your child wanting something, avoid going by there if you can. If you are at Target or Walmart, don’t go right by the toy aisle or candy aisle.

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Prevention also refers to any circumstance where you can see a whine, fit, or crying spell starting to take hold. Stop what you are doing for a minute and tell your child that you can see he or she is starting to get upset. Deal with the situation right there before it escalates.

3. Shift to reasoning

When my kids were little, they would ask for something, and if I didn’t say yes immediately, I would see big eyes, a lip out, and a sweet expression begging for me to give them what they wanted. I intuitively knew that if I gave in, I would get more of this behavior. I wanted my kids to grow up to be good communicators. Instead of giving in, I would say, “That’s not going to work, give me some good reasoning.” This would make them stop and think. When they were real little, their ideas were pretty weak, as they got older, their reasoning skills sharpened. I used positive reinforcement every chance I could. Sometimes, I would let them have what they wanted simply because they used their reasoning skills instead of whining or begging.

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4. Reinforce their new method

Once you get your children to find better ways to communicate, it’s important you reinforce this positive behavior. I am not saying they should get what they want; I am saying you should acknowledge their efforts. For example, let’s say your child starts to whine because she wants to have a friend over for a sleepover and you said no. You can ask her to use a normal voice and ask again. You can praise her for asking without whining. You can ask her why it’s so important to her. You can listen while she gives you her reasons. You can thank her for communicating so well and ask if you both can find another time when she can have her friend over.

5. Resist giving in

It’s important to resist giving in even when we are tempted to. What’s cute and kind of charming as a child might not be so cute as they become adults. Being consistent in our actions is important to children. If we consistently don’t give in when they whine, cry, or beg, they will learn that these behaviors aren’t effective measures in getting what they want.

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In conclusion, we all want to raise our children to be the best individuals they can become. Encouraging good reasoning skills and rewarding positive behavior can have a lasting impact on our children and help them grow into good communicators as adults.

More by this author

Tomi Rues

Adjunct college teacher, notebook/journal designer, author

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Published on January 30, 2019

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

How to Support a Working Mother as a Working Father

In roughly 60 percent of two-parent households with children under the age of 18, both parents work full time. But who takes time off work when the kids are sick in your house? And if you are a manager, how do you react when a man says he needs time to take his baby to the pediatrician?

The sad truth is, the default in many companies and families is to value the man’s work over the woman’s—even when there is no significant difference in their professional obligations or compensation. This translates into stereotypes in the workplace that women are the primary caregivers, which can negatively impact women’s success on the job and their upward mobility.

According to a Pew Research Center analysis of long-term time-use data (1965–2011), fathers in dual-income couples devote significantly less time than mothers do to child care.[1] Dads are doing more than twice as much housework as they used to (from an average of about four hours per week to about 10 hours), but there is still a significant imbalance.

This is not just an issue between spouses; it’s a workplace culture issue. In many offices, it is still taboo for dads to openly express that they have family obligations that need their attention. In contrast, the assumption that moms will be on the front lines of any family crisis is one that runs deep.

Consider an example from my company. A few years back, one of our team members joined us for an off-site meeting soon after returning from maternity leave. Not even two hours into her trip, her husband called to say that the baby had been crying nonstop. While there was little our colleague could practically do to help with the situation, this call was clearly unsettling, and the result was that her attention was divided for the rest of an important business dinner.

This was her first night away since the baby’s birth, and I know that her spouse had already been on several business trips before this event. Yet, I doubt she called him during his conferences to ask child-care questions. Like so many moms everywhere, she was expected to figure things out on her own.

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The numbers show that this story is far from the exception. In another Pew survey, 47 percent of dual-income parents agreed that the moms take on more of the work when a child gets sick.[2] In addition, 39 percent of working mothers said they had taken a significant amount of time off from work to care for their child compared to just 24 percent of working fathers. Mothers are also more likely than fathers (27 percent to 10 percent) to say they had quit their job at some point for family reasons.

Before any amazing stay-at-home-dads post an angry rebuttal comment, I want to be very clear that I am not judging how families choose to divide and conquer their personal and professional responsibilities; that’s 100 percent their prerogative. Rather, I am taking aim at the culture of inequity that persists even when spouses have similar or identical professional responsibilities. This is an important issue for all of us because we are leaving untapped business and human potential on the table.

What’s more, I think my fellow men can do a lot about this. For those out there who still privately think that being a good dad just means helping out mom, it’s time to man up. Stop expecting working partners—who have similar professional responsibilities—to bear the majority of the child-care responsibilities as well.

Consider these ways to support your working spouse:

1. Have higher expectations for yourself as a father; you are a parent, not a babysitter.

Know who your pediatrician is and how to reach him or her. Have a back-up plan for transportation and emergency coverage.

Don’t simply expect your partner to manage all these invisible tasks on her own. Parenting takes effort and preparation for the unexpected.

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As in other areas of life, the way to build confidence is to learn by doing. Moms aren’t born knowing how to do this stuff any more than dads are.

2. Treat your partner the way you’d want to be treated.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard a man on a business trip say to his wife on a call something to the effect of, “I am in the middle of a meeting. What do you want me to do about it?”

However, when the tables are turned, men often make that same call at the first sign of trouble.

Distractions like this make it difficult to focus and engage with work, which perpetuates the stereotype that working moms aren’t sufficiently committed.

When you’re in charge of the kids, do what she would do: Figure it out.

3. When you need to take care of your kids, don’t make an excuse that revolves around your partner’s availability.

This implies that the children are her first priority and your second.

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I admit I have been guilty in the past of telling clients, “I have the kids today because my wife had something she could not move.” What I should have said was, “I’m taking care of my kids today.”

Why is it so hard for men to admit they have personal responsibilities? Remember that you are setting an example for your sons and daughters, and do the right thing.

4. As a manager, be supportive of both your male and female colleagues when unexpected situations arise at home.

No one likes or wants disruptions, but life happens, and everyone will face a day when the troubling phone call comes from his sitter, her school nurse, or even elderly parents.

Accommodating personal needs is not a sign of weakness as a leader. Employees will be more likely to do great work if they know that you care about their personal obligations and family—and show them that you care about your own.

5. Don’t keep score or track time.

At home, it’s juvenile to get into debates about who last changed a diaper or did the dishes; everyone needs to contribute, but the big picture is what matters. Is everyone healthy and getting enough sleep? Are you enjoying each other’s company?

In business, too, avoid the trap of punching a clock. The focus should be on outcomes and performance rather than effort and inputs. That’s the way to maintain momentum toward overall goals.

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The Bottom Line

To be clear, I recognize that a great many working dads are doing a terrific job both on the home front and in their professional lives. My concern is that these standouts often aren’t visible to their colleagues; they intentionally or inadvertently let their work as parents fly under the radar. Dads need to be open and honest about family responsibilities to change perceptions in the workplace.

The question “How do you balance it all?” should not be something that’s just asked of women. Frankly, no one can answer that question. Juggling a career and parental responsibilities is tough. At times, really tough.

But it’s something that more parents should be doing together, as a team. This can be a real bonus for the couple relationship as well, because nothing gets in the way of good partnership faster than feelings of inequity.

On the plus side, I can tell you that parenting skills really do get better with practice—and that’s great for people of both sexes. I think our cultural expectations that women are the “nurturers” and men are the “providers” needs to evolve. Expanding these definitions will open the doors to richer contributions from everyone, because women can and should be both—and so should men.

Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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