Yesterday, I posted this on my Facebook page: “There’s nothing worse than a whiny 14-year-old.” When there were 31 comments within minutes, I realized immediately that a) I’m not alone, and b) that my comment posted in frustration definitely struck a nerve with other moms.
So what do we do when our kids start whining? Whether they are 4 or 14?
I don’t have all the answers on this one, but I’ll share with you what I did yesterday. I drew a line. A boundary line. And I clearly communicated expectations for the future.
Everyone was gone yesterday except me and said child. So I told him we were taking a ride. I had two coupons for a free frozen drink at a fast food restaurant that we cashed in. Sitting in the restaurant, I took out a pen and paper and together we brainstormed almost 20 activities he can do when he is bored.
Now I won’t let you think he was excited about this conversation. He was reluctantly participating.
After discussing his activity options when he is bored, I stated clearly to him that I would not tolerate the words, “I’m bored,” or a whiny tone, and if I heard them again there would be a consequence. I mean that…100%.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is that parenting reactively is quite ineffective. Parenting proactively is far more effective. Removing ourselves from the home setting and establishing boundaries outside of conflict was part of my effort at being more proactive than reactive.
Dealing with this took me back to when my kids were little. I found that if I clearly set expectations for my kids, they were more likely to rise to them. If I didn’t set expectations, I dealt with more misbehavior. For instance, when we pulled in the grocery store parking lot and I informed my kids–before they were ever out of their car seats–where I expected them to ride in the shopping cart and whether this was a “candy or no-candy in the check-out aisle” shopping trip, made all the difference in how they behaved in the store. When the expectations were clearly communicated, I had better behaved kids. And even if they misbehaved after setting the expectation, then I didn’t hesitate doling out a consequence because I knew that they knew what was expected.
When we parent proactively we lead our kids, setting the standards we expect them to rise to. If you think about it, parenting is all about leadership, really.
How about you? How do you lead your kids proactively, rather than respond reactively?