I was just talking to an awesome, sweet friend last night who had come for dinner with her hubby. They were so excited to come for a grown-up dinner without the kids, for a change. I only had my 7-year-old here, so it really was a grown-up night! I fed her early, set her up with a movie, and wa-lah! Only 4 plates at the dinner table! (Great dinner, by the way, I’ll be posting the recipe tomorrow!)
We were talking about her kids and what she was struggling with as a mom. A whiny 4-year-old girl, and a clingy almost 2-yr.-old boy. Moms, if you think you are the only one dealing with this stuff, you’re not, and here’s the proof. Welcome to Mommy-hood! Fun? Not exactly. I wouldn’t go straight to fun, but at least you know you’re not alone.
She was telling me how she tells her daughter to ‘use her big girl words’, but that it wasn’t working and asked what I thought she should do. I told her that at four years old, she was way beyond using ‘big girl words’. She knows that already, and shouldn’t even be entertained when the whining starts. Now, you may read this and think, man! She’s mean! To the contrary. I think we do our kids an injustice when we allow behavior to continue that will make life harder for them in the long run. I used to tell my girls, “I don’t speak whinese,” and kindly send them out of the room. Sorry. Talk to me like you’re 4…because you are! If you tolerate whining for even a second, they will never stop. If they really want that cup of juice, they’ll get the picture real quick. You don’t have to be Stalin or anything, but firm is necessary. You can send them out as lovingly as you want to, but sending them out is important. We see all of these campaigns for ‘no tolerance’ when it comes to drugs and alcohol. We need to start that ‘no tolerance attitude’ with our kids when they are little.
Second issue…clingy 2 yr. old. All kids go through this stage, I think. The clingy stage drives us crazy because we can’t get anything done without them on our hip, and they aren’t weightless newborns anymore! Stop the madness! I told my friend to put him down, because he won’t die from crying. Let him cry. He’ll make it. “But it drives me nuts to hear him crying for an hour because he wants to be held!”…solution? Pick a spot in his room, and tell him this, “You can cry if you really need to, but not in here. Go to your room and cry…and cry quietly.”
She laughed when I said the ‘cry quietly’ part. I used to tell my girls that all the time. “I know, sometimes we just need to cry. That’s fine, but you need to go to your room and cry quietly. When you’re done crying, you can come back out.” You don’t have to get mad, or discipline, (unless they throw a fit and need to now be disciplined because of obnoxious behavior.)
Whatever you do, don’t pick them up! After they have gone to their ‘crying place’, and come back out without a tear, you can then sit down, put them in your lap, and tell them how proud you are, and how much you love them. Just for a few minutes, though, then kindly tell them that you have things to do, and you can’t pick them up right now. They may start freaking out all over again, so, start the process all over again. Welcome to parenting 101. CONSISTENCY! Sometimes we have to put aside what we ‘need’ to do, and dedicate our time to being consistent with our kids. Such is life!
So, Moms, I encourage you today. They are not going to whine forever, and you won’t be carrying them around the halls of their high school. It’s not forever, just for now, but be firm, don’t give in, and don’t give up. You can do this thing!