"Good parents take very, very good care of their marriage, lest their marriage become a mirage. "

Free to Disagree, Not Disobey


My 4.5 year-old-son has whining meltdown 3-5 times a day, usually when he 1) is told he can't have something, 2) it's time to stop doing something, or 3) there is some representation of "unfairness" compared to his younger brother. He tearfully screams, "I never EVER get to... (fill in the blank)!!!," which is really annoying and gets my blood boiling. I'm not sure why this has sprung up in the last six months, because I'm pretty authoritative and direct with my kids and I don't give in to bad behavior. This one has me stumped, perhaps because I see him as "sensitive" child and attempts to be brusque regarding this misbehavior only infuriate him more. Later in the day he usually apologizes to me on his own for "flipping his lid" and seems very repentant. Should I use Strikes or Tickets with this age child? Should the Target Misbehavior be "Whining/Complaining"? Should I include the "Never Ever" phrase? Thank you for your help!


First let me say KUDOS for sticking to your guns and actually using the word "no." I love that he actually apologizes later, on his own...that is a huge plus in the character department.

We are all human and these little angels of ours can certainly make us hot under the collar from time to time. I would recommend focusing on whether he does what he is told, even if he fusses. As John would say, "you are free to disagree but not free to disobey." if he isn't doing what he's told AND he's acting out about it that is a different situation.

Because this has become a recurring response I would make it very clear that if her feels the need to "vent" he can do so in his bedroom. He can be upset, but not to the point is disrupts the peace in the home. We all get angry but we have to teach our children how, when, and where it is appropriate to express our anger.

Because he has shown he is capable of recognizing when he has been ugly and is remorseful about it, he is certainly capable of removing himself from the situation at hand in order to "get it out" and cool down. This will serve him well later in life. Unfortunately this will always be an issue...the earlier he learns to self discipline and deal with situations he doesn't "like," the better!

If after you've stated these expectations for future outbursts, he continues to disrupt the peace I would absolutely recommend using tickets or strikes.

May you continue to be Happily Parenting!

Stacey Watts - Dean of Coaching

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