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How to Tame the Whining

Question

My 5-year-old has regressed with his whining. His baby brother is going through his terrible 2’s, and I’m not sure if he’s trying to copy that behavior. I am presently trying to send him to his room when he cannot get his whining under control. I’ve stripped the room of every toy & book and plan on sending him to his room every day he whines until he can get back to where he was. Is this a good plan? Too excessive? Any other thoughts? If sending him to his room is a good idea, how should I handle it when he yells downstairs trying to engage in conversation? I’ve told him he has to deal with the consequence of the whining and that includes not conversing. I’ve also told him that if he continues to yell downstairs that he will spend the next day in his room as well.

Answer

Thank you for the question. It is tough when you think you have one problem solved and it rears its ugly head again. You say your son had the whining under control and when his baby brother began going through the terrible twos it resurfaced. Often an older sibling adores the baby until the younger sibling turns into competition. While we don’t want to waste our time trying to figure out the whys, it may simply be a factor to consider. You don’t say what you did to get the whining under control before. From your previous questions it sounds as though you used the ticket system and when he lost all his tickets he was sent to his room. An important aspect of the ticketing system is to give the child enough free passes so he can slowly get it right. Then as he grows stronger in his ability to control his whining (or any other social problem) you make the game a little harder by taking away one of his free tickets. After you find that sweet spot of how many free tickets to give you will need to send him to his room. He is fine, just unhappy. That is the whole point. None of us change until the motivation to do things differently is stronger than the desire to continue with the bad behavior. Your son needs to decide not whining and learning to use his big boy voice to ask for what he wants is far more advantageous to him than being sent to his room. Your loving smile and encouragement will let him know you love him and are rooting for him to get the lesson sooner than later. If he yells down to you while he is in his room simply don’t answer or let him know you hope tomorrow goes better for him so he can make cookies with you. I wouldn’t pile on another day simply for yelling down the stairs. Remember the goal here for him to learn to control his voice and frustration. He doens’t have to be perfect nor should you expect him to be. He is a boy and needs lots of fresh air and running outside with little if any screen time. Keep on being a great Mom who loves and adores her son so much she wants him to become a responsible adult. Good for you!

PS: Keep reading those John Rosemond books for your 2-year-old and remember this too shall pass.

All the best,
Nadine Knapp
Certified Parenting Coach
Nadine@parentrescue.org

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