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How do I get my son to stop
whining or at least slow down ?
-Brian & Joanne, Canada
Joanne & Brian,
Whining is a successful
strategy for kids when they are rewarded for their efforts. The first question
to ask yourself is, ?Does my son get what he wants when he whines?? You
might want to keep a written record of the events surrounding his whining so you
know how to better tackle the problem. Take note of when he is whining, why he
is whining, and what happens as a result of his whining. Ask yourself some
questions. Is his whining brought on by hunger or exhaustion? Does his whining
happen at the same time every day? How do we act when he whines? What rewards
does he get by whining?
Whining can begin when a child
is sleepy or hungry. If that is the case, take some preventative measures to
make sure that your son's needs are met before the whining begins. Does he need
to eat a small snack between meals or go to bed earlier? Ask yourself these
questions if you think that his whining is tied in with basic needs.
Whining can also be an attempt to get attention. Have you been busier than
usual? Does your son need some extra attention right now? Have there been any
changes in the family that would cause him to feel left out? If this is the
case, make some special one on one time for a favorite activity. When kids feel
that they need attention, they will get it anyway they can-negatively or
Next, take a look at your own
behavior. When your son whines, how do you handle it? Do you calmly state your
expectations or do you become drawn into the moment and argue with your son?
Many kids learn whining from their parents. That's right. We often whine back
and reply with statements like, "Stop whining-I hate it when you whine!" Then,
we may give in to our kid's demands just to stop the awful whining behavior. If
you feel like you are drawn into the whining behavior, you need to work on your
response to your child. Keep the tone of your voice calm and your expectations
clear and to the point. In reality, your child may have a reasonable request.
The problem is the way in which he is addressing you. So, you might say
something like, "Why don't you go to your room and practice asking without
whining. Then you can come back and try again." The point is to let your child
know that you won't address his needs when he asks in a whining tone of voice.
If your son is pretty young, lets say age 4-6, then you might repeat his request
back to him in a calm voice and prompt him with, "Let's try that again without
Most importantly, realize that
changing behavior takes time. Be patient and calm when dealing with your son.
Don't forget to catch him being good. Sometimes, rewarding a child's positive
behavior will be enough to make change happen. Give him positive feedback when
he uses words without whining. You might say, ?Boy, I like how you asked for
that without whining!? Take a look at our page on75 Ways to Say Good Job.
Best of luck!!
Behavior charts don't seem to work
for my daughter. She gets more upset when she doesn't get her "sticker". Should
I stop using them?
First, you might want to reevaluate your chart. Are your expectations too
high? Can your daughter be successful with the chart you set up? Did your
daughter help you pick the rewards? Will the rewards motivate her? These are all
important questions you need to ask when setting up your behavior chart. Setting
chart takes time and a bit of readjustment now and then. Take a look at our page
onUsing Behavior Charts.
If you decide that a chart just isn't working, that's o.k. Charts aren't the
best method for all kids. Continue to be positive, and give your daughter
encouragement for at least trying the chart. Try to complete the week you set up
to model consistency for her. Then, try some other options. Maybe you can go
back to a behavior chart at a later time. Maybe not. The most important thing
is to stay positive.
My son really likes the rewards of his behavior
chart, but his behavior has already gotten better. When do I end the chart?
It's great that your son had a positive experience with his behavior chart!
When your child's target behavior is achieved, you can stop the chart.
Finish out the chart for the week. And, even though you see your child
demonstrating the target behavior, use the chart another week or two to
reinforce the behavior and give your child some time to practice. Then, you can
stop. Let him know what a great job he did on the chart, and if he enjoys it,
start working on another behavior.
Can You Give Me A Free Reward Chart For My
Amy, you are free to print off any of our
charts and printables right from our website. They are free of charge.
If you run into any problems printing, drop us an
email and we'll try tohelp you work it out!
I'm working with a child
who says he "enjoys" being a "troublemaker!" but that he
wants to improve his behavior (he really is sweet-spirited, he just needs some
direction). He loves attention, loves to talk out of turn in school
feels class is boring - he's a 4th grader. Any ideas of what might help
that being a "troublemaker" isn't positive attention-getting!? :) Thanks!
First of all, you might want to consider an academic evaluation. If he is truly
bored, he may qualify for gifted services. This all depends on his teacher's
recommendation and how he is performing academically. He may need some
additional challenges in the classroom to keep him busy. Set up some
activities that he can do when his work is completed like reading, drawing, or
working on a classroom computer.
You might also examine how the teacher is
handling classroom management. Are there consequences for talking out of turn or
distracting other students? Is the class as a whole well behaved or does the
classroom feel chaotic? The teacher may need to improve behavior management
techniques for the whole class.
Perhaps the teacher/parent/school counselor
can work together to set up an incentive chart. Maybe he can earn a special
lunch with a school staff person or a treat from a treasure box for good
behavior. Another idea is to have positive behavior coupons that his
teacher can hand out randomly during the day to recognize any positive behavior
that he exhibits. These can be small bits of paper with "great job" written on
them...something easy. Every time a school staff person notices that he does
something positive, give him a coupon.
Ultimately, the way to help a child realize
that his troublemaking behavior is not going to get him positive attention is to
reward his positive behavior. The more we reward and recognize a child's
positive behavior, the more they seek that reward by repeating the behavior.
Finally, if change doesn't happen at school,
then there may be problems at home that are interfering. Attention getting
behavior at school may be a signal that he is not getting the attention he needs
at home. Many kids would rather get negative attention than no attention
at all. In order to address this possibility and assess the family dynamics, a
trained counselor needs to meet with the family to explore what is going on at
home. Best of luck!
I am a step parent, but have no children of my
own. The 4 year old boy is wetting his pants more and more frequently. At first
I thought it was because he was "too busy" playing to be bothered. Now I am
beginning to wonder if it's because his mom keeps trying to tell him that he is
a baby and his dad and I are trying to tell him he is a big boy. Or is there
something going on emotionally possibly with the new "families"? I have no idea
whether or not to make a deal out of this or ignore it, or what to do to try and
get it to stop. Or is it normal for 4 year old boys to wet their pants?
First, thank you for being such a caring step
parent. This little boy is very fortunate to have you as a new addition to the
family! There are many factors to consider in this situation. What age was the
child when he became completely potty trained? Many boys don't completely potty
train until they are 3-4 years old. In that case, it would be perfectly normal
for the child to slip and wet his pants occasionally. Next, what time of day
does the wetting occur? Nighttime wetting is more likely caused by the lack of
maturation of the child's nerves that supply the bladder...a purely physical
cause. Thus, the child fails to wake up when the bladder needs to be emptied.
Most likely, though, your step son is having some moments of relapse due to
stress. He could definitely be reacting to the emotional stress of having a new
step parent and receiving different messages from different parents. At this
age, kids often struggle with the idea of being a "big kid". There is some
safety and security when they are "the baby" and moving out of toddlerhood means
leaving that security. In this case, kids may revert back to "baby" behaviors
such as sucking thumbs, wetting pants, using baby talk, etc. In addition, if
your step son is feeling insecure with his new family situation, he may be
seeking the security of some of those old behaviors.
The mixed messages are probably very confusing to him. It is in his best
interest if all parents are on the same page and give him the same message and
lots of reassurance and support. Becoming angry will only make matters worse and
cause additional stress. At times, kids will continue certain behaviors just to
keep a sense of control in their lives. So, make sure that none of the parents
involved in power struggles by getting angry at him for wetting.
If the parents involved are having difficulty getting along and cannot resolve
issues, you may want to seek the help of a family counselor. Your step son may
also benefit from checking in with a counselor. You can try a behavior chart
with him and reward him when he stays dry. Set the chart up for small periods of
dry time and gradually increase your expectations. For example, you might start
the chart on a weekend and concentrate on staying dry from the time he gets up
in the morning until lunch time. Then, keep track of the period between lunch
and bed and then through the night. Gradually work up to the expectation that he
stay dry all day. Keep in mind, though, if he is wetting due to stress, the best
therapy for him is to receive lots of love and support along with cohesive,
unified parents. As he becomes more adjusted to the changes in his life, his
wetting will decrease.
Finally, in rare cases, wetting can be a sign of a medical problem. In a small
percentage of kids, urinary tract infections and even diabetes can cause
wetting. So, if your step son's wetting persists you should check in with your
family physician. You may want to check in anyway just to rule out these
How do you handle a child with ADHD and have 3 other siblings?
Maria, New Jersey
It sounds like you are overwhelmed with parenting your child with ADHD as well
as your other children. We can't give you a magic formula for managing your
difficult situation as there are many factors involved and much information that
we are lacking. What we can do is suggest some ways in which you get support for
First, are you working with a family counselor? If not, you might want to
consider finding a counselor to help give you some parenting pointers and
support. A good place to start is your child's school counselor. You may be able
to check in with that person or get a referral. Does your child's school offer
any parenting classes or have any type of parent resource center? That might
also be a good place to start. Many communities offer free parenting classes.
And, you may want to join a support group for parents. Support groups are great
places to vent frustrations, get support, and find additional resources.
To start, here are a couple websites that may lead you in the right direction:
Parent To Parent is a parent support organization for parents by parents. It is
geared toward parents of children with disabilities. We suggest you get in touch
New Jersey Statewide Parent To Parent. In addition, here is the website for the
Family Support Center of New Jersey.
This is a huge data base listing services and support in your area also geared
toward families with disabled children.
Next, are you getting time away from the kids? Do you have family/friends who
can watch the kids while you take a break or get out for a while? Take a look at
our article on stress management tips for parents. If you are feeling
overwhelmed, it's probably a sign that you need to take care of yourself and
prevent your own stress from getting in the way of parenting.
In addition, our website promotes two great parenting programs. We highly recommend
The Total Transformation and
The Total Focus. The Total Transformation is a program
designed to help parents with general parenting tips, ideas, and tricks and
behavior. The Total Focus is geared toward parents or caregivers of kids with
ADHD. Both have free trials. Just click the name of the program in purple within
this paragraph for more information.
Best of luck with your kids and hope this helps a bit!