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Behavior Makeover: Whining

Behavior Makeover Plan
Start by thinking about whining kids. Why do you think they use this behavior? Whining is learned, so where do you think kids learn it? How do other parents you know respond to whining? How did your parents respond? Which parenting responses do you think are most successful in stopping whining behavior? Why?

Now it's time to take action to begin making over your kid's behavior. Use your Makeover Journal to write down your thoughts and develop your plan.

  1. Think about how you typically respond to your kid's whining. If possible, discuss this with your partner or another parent who knows you and your child well. Why hasn't your response succeeded in stopping the behavior? Does your child use this behavior with other adults? If so, who? Who doesn't he use this behavior around? Why not?

  2. Reread Steps One, Two, and Three, and commit to no longer tolerating your kid's whining. Think through what you will say to explain your new behavior expectation. Most important is to plan how you will respond the next time your kid whines. Recognize that in most cases, Steps One and Two are mandatory for behavior makeovers.

  3. Usually there's a predictable pattern to kids' behavior in which certain situations are more likely to provoke bad conduct. Think about your kid, and identify the kinds of circumstances that might incite her to whine. For instance, is there a time of the day she is more likely to sulk: When she's hungry or tired? When you're on the phone and she wants your attention? When you're tired? Once you're aware of the pattern, you can anticipate when your child is more likely to resort to using the behavior and head it off before it starts. For example, you might distract her attention before she starts whining: "Look, there's a gorgeous butterfly!" Kids often whine to get attention, so responding promptly to your child can fend it off. "I'll be off the phone in two minutes. As soon as I'm done, let's read a book."

  4. If it's not nipped in the bud, whining rarely stops by itself. If the whining continues, try Step Four and set consequences that are appropriate for your child. Remember that the best consequences fit the situation and are administered immediately. Make a list of what you could do when your kid whines in a public setting and at home. At the first whimper, you'll be ready. Here are a few consequence ideas suitable for whining:

    For a young whiner, create a "whining chair" at home, and use it when necessary: "That's whining. Go sit in the whiner's chair for two minutes so you remember to use your nice voice when you want something."

    When driving, pull to the side of the road (when safe), and wait until your kid talks correctly. Feel free to listen to the radio or even read as you wait. He'll get the point.

    In a public setting, such as a restaurant, a mall, a movie theater, or a park, immediately leave the scene with your kid. You and your spouse may have to resort to driving in two cars, with your whiner leaving the scene of the crime with one of you.

The best news is that it usually takes only one or two times before your kid gets the message that you mean business. Just don't back down!

Makeover Pledge
How will you use the four steps and the Behavior Makeover Plan to help your kid achieve long-term change and stop whining? On the lines below, write exactly what you agree to do within the next twenty-four hours to begin your kid's behavior makeover.

Next: Results >>

From No More Misbehavin' by Michele Borba, Ed.D. Copyright © 2003 by Michele Borba. All rights reserved. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Buy the book at www.amazon.com.

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