Dr. Cohen suggests responding to whining playfully, “Uh oh, we seem to have lost your strong voice! Where did we leave that thing?”
Sure, it might sound silly, but it can also change the tone quickly. When we respond to whining with a groan of exasperation, odds are we aren’t helping. Setting a lighter tone means that we are choosing not to get impatient and annoyed and instead remain warm and supportive.
3. Listen Well
When our children do use a strong, clear voice to express their needs and wishes, it’s important that we give them our attention and listen well. When we’re distracted and only partially listening, we are communicating that the strong voice isn’t actually effective. If we aren’t in a position to provide our full attention, we need to communicate that as well as give a specific time frame for when we’ll be available, “I need to finish this email, but I will give you my full attention in five minutes.”
As important as it is to reinforce the strong voice, it’s also important to listen when our children are whining. What is their tone trying to tell us? Are they tired or hungry? Do they need attention or are they frustrated? Listening passed the whining to the need underneath will help us to be able to offer the empathy and support that’s needed in the moment.
Megan Stonelake is a therapist and parent coach who teaches parents all over the world how to become more peaceful. She has written extensively on peaceful parenting for Parent.co, Hey Sigmund, and The Huffington Post among others. You can follow her blog or schedule a session at her website. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.