Everyone is stressed these days, especially parents. Parenting during these difficult times can be so overwhelming that simple, daily activities feel like insurmountable challenges. When everyone is stressed and kids start whining, parents can feel their energy draining away.
Do you know any kids who create great discomfort for everyone around them just by using a certain tone of voice? Some kids have mastered a whiny tone that can act like a cheese grater on raw nerves. Whining can send us over the edge and cause what we call “skill slippage.”;
What can we do when our kids whine? First, it helps to remember that whining is just a way kids try to get what they want. And in the real world, it doesn’t seem to be a very good way. So, we don’t want to teach kids that whining “works” and we certainly don’t want to model being whiny ourselves.
Some Love and Logic parents have had great success with Love and Logic’s Energy Drain Technique. The next time you find yourself stumped by whining, or any other behavior that drains your energy, use the Energy Drain Technique! Here are the steps:
Say with empathy, “When you ____________, it really drains my energy. We’ll talk about this later.”
Give yourself some time to calm down and think.
Ask your child how they plan to replace the energy they drained.
Kids can replace energy by doing extra chores, staying home while you rest, hiring themselves a babysitter, cooking dinner, etc.
Give them a deadline for “energy replacement,” and enforce it if they forget or refuse.
Some parents find it necessary to take away a toy or do an “automatic allowance withdrawal” if their energy isn’t replaced by the deadline.
Maxine used the Energy Drain technique with her six-year-old daughter (a champion whiner) for a few weeks and the whining all but disappeared. Whenever little Misty started whining, Maxine would inhale slowly and say, “Oh, it just drains my energy to hear that.” Sometimes, she would disengage from her daughter, if possible. Then she would give her daughter a couple options for putting the energy back: “Some kids decide to do the dusting while Mom takes a rest. Other kids decide to put their mom’s energy back by straightening the bookshelf. You can decide.”
Maxine secretly hoped Misty would NOT put her energy back by doing a chore so that when Misty needed some of Mom’s energy to take her to a friend’s house, Mom could say, “Oh, I’m sad to say I used up all of my driving energy listening to all that whining. Maybe next time I’ll have the energy to take you.”
Be careful, some parents start looking forward to their kids’ whining so they can get some chores done or so their kids can miss out on some things and really learn that whining doesn’t pay.
For more on this technique, check out our audio title, Love and Logic Magic When Kids Drain Your Energy audio.
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Dr. Charles Fay
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