The weekend. The holiday. The chance to chill out at home. Or get out and have an adventure and actually enjoy family life together.
But before you know it, the kids are grumbling and moaning AND whining!
And we’re yelling back!
Because we can’t believe they can be so ungrateful. And because we’re mad they’ve ruined the time we so wanted to be special.
And just because there is something soooo infuriating about kids whining. Because, somehow, kids whining presses our buttons as parents and pushes us to out of control angry like nothing else we know!
So why do kids do it?
And is there any way we can stop our kids whining? Or is it just part and parcel of parenting? Payback from our parents for all the whining we did!!
Well, yes of course kids have always whined at their parents. And always will – it’s a sure fire way of getting adult attention – but our kids’ endless whining and grumbling and complaining is actually a symptom of a bigger problem that’s been dumped on their generation.
The thing is, they are probably both the most over indulged and materially spoilt generation of kids yet. But also the most neglected. It’s this bizarre bind that is behind the vast majority of our kids moaning.
So when we’re exploding at their ingratitude – don’t they know how lucky they are!!? – we need to try and hear their heartfelt cry of help and help them escape the shackles of over indulgent-neglect.
That all sounds a bit over dramatic doesn’t it? But the good news I’ve got for you here three really simple ways we can help our kids to stop whining and complaining and actually enjoy childhood a whole lot more.
I really hope they help you help your kids to stop whining and complaining. Do let me know how you get on. And for more simple parenting tips follow me on Pinterest and check out my other posts.
Why Kids Whine
OK. I want you to take a minute and do something for me.
Right … REMEMBER a time you saw and heard a tethered dog whining.
It could be in a yard. In a car. At the stores.
Remember how it sounded?
Frustrated? Confused? Self pitying? Angry? Pathetic? Helpless?
Remarkably like our kids when they’re whining, huh?
And NO we don’t all tie our kids up.
BUT they ARE tethered most of their day.
They’re stuck in school or childcare or a club or a home they’re not allowed out of because it’s dangerous on the streets.
Or at best a small garden.
They’re almost NEVER out of sight of adults.
And have NO opportunities to push the physical boundaries of the world in which they live.
And THAT is what kids are meant to do.
Roaming over a wider and wider space is how they learn independence.
And there is NO other way they can truly grow up.
They NEED the freedom to explore their world for themselves.
And without it, they will – like the tethered dog – whine endlessly for the attention we’re NOT giving them BECAUSE we’re hectically busy on our phones and laptops and the rest.
So how on earth can we help?
How can we give our children their freedom back in a busy world full of cars? AND give them those dollops of genuine attention that give them the security to roam when they have a chance?
Well these are the 3 tricks I rely on.
We can’t do them every day.
But we fit them in as much as we can at the weekend or a night after school and lots more in the holidays …
3 Tricks To Stop Kids Whining
1. Breakfast In The Park
So the first trick to stop kids whining is breakfast in the park.
You what? Yep, seriously.
Forget showers. And teeth brushing. And hair tugging.
The minute you’re all up, get out of the house.
Just grab some toast. Some fruit.
Chocolate croissants a go go if you want.
AND a flask of coffee!
And hit the park.
Take a ball. Take a book. Take the dog.
But LEAVE your phone at home!
And for one hour – two if you’ve got it – give your kids, your undivided attention.
FREE from all the stuff that needs doing round the house.
FREE from those oh-so-urgent – really? – work e-mails and phone calls and messages.
And FREE from all that sneaky skulking on social media.
Because the strange thing about kids lives today is they’re never left alone.
BUT when we’re with them we’re NOT there!
Mentally we’re somewhere else – work, worries, Facebook, wherever – and they know it.
So often, kids whining is just a cry for attention.
They can’t get it any other way.
So they whine.
A big blast of in-their-face you time – a real connection – first thing sets kids up for the day.
And leaves them quite happy to roam …
… AND explore
… AND run free
… AND do their own thing
… AND be left alone!
So we can then get the work and the whatever done.
PLUS the double whammy of the whole family getting outside first thing is we all sleep better.
Cos’ all that daylight actually resets our body clocks.
2. Hit The Woods
My second trick to stop kids whining is to hit the woods.
“What if we live in the city!?” you scream.
Well, yeah it’s a bit harder.
But even here in central London we’re only half an hour from big woods.
And the thing about woods, is they give our kids freedom.
A freedom they just don’t get any longer, most of the time.
Woods let kids run and climb and build and hide and imagine and explore.
They let them connect with the world
The real world. The beautiful, physical, mysterious, dangerous world.
And that gives them a freedom to express themselves in a big, bold way.
That the sanitised safety boxes of homes and schools, and the anxst-ridden artificial world of the screen, never can.
And you know what?
When kids are being big and bold.
And designing dens.
And conquering great heights.
And bridging streams.
And chasing squirrels.
And fighting dragons.
And opening conkers.
And munching blackberries.
They NEVER whine.
And, yeah, you can’t go to the woods every day.
But once a month at the weekend.
Or every week in the holidays.
An afternoon in the woods – a big dollop of freedom – helps them connect with themselves in a way that seems to keep them going for days and days after.
And stops them whining.
OK, so now you’ve got two tricks to stop your kids whining.
Onto the final one.
And it’s a bit controversial.
Because my third trick to stop your kids whining is to ditch the car!
3. Ditch The Car
You what! Are you crazy?
My kids whine if they have to walk anywhere, you shout!
But strapping kids into the car and driving for hours is guaranteed to make all kids whine.
And not surprisingly.
They get NO positive attention from us because we’re driving.
Have NO freedom to move around so they’re bursting with restless energy.
And have NO control over – or responsibility for – the journey.
And you know what? These are enough to make anyone whine.
If you go on the bus, you can actually talk to kids face to face.
If you go on the train, you can read Harry Potter.
Or play endless rounds of Uno.
And if you scoot or bike, kids can burn off all their natural energy.
And look at stuff. And notice stuff OUTSIDE their protective bubble.
Whilst getting places fast.
As every kid I know, can actually break the land-speed record on their scooter!
PLUS – and this is a biggy – they can actually help with the journey.
They can carry stuff. They can find the platform.
They can read the map.
And the funny thing is, when things go wrong – as they do – they get the chance to step up.
So go on ditch the car.
Even one car free day a week gives our children some precious freedom back.
AND seriously helps them stop whining.
I really hope these simple tricks help to stop your kids whining.
Let me know how you get on.