Putting an End to Whining.

8 Apr

Our own and our children’s!  Kerry Stutzman, MSW gave us an entertaining talk on putting an end to whining and arguing in our kids’ lives.

Kerry had lots of great information and funny quotes that she shared, but one that really struck me was when she talked about the “fight, flight, or freeze” response in children’s brains.  We’re all familiar with “fight or flight”, but children may also display the primal “freeze” response when faced with a stressful situation.  To us it might look like they’re ignoring us when we’re giving them instructions to do certain things (pick up their toys, go to bed, etc.), but it is a natural reaction for many kids to freeze – but that just makes it all the more maddening for us, right?  To avoid getting frustrated and caught up in an argument with your child in these situations, practice using Kerry’s one-liners.  It allows you to stay in a calm state of mind, and your child will eventually give up their tantrum or whining because they’ll see they’re not eliciting a response from you.

Kerry also addressed sibling arguments.  It’s natural for siblings to fight with each other – it’s a form of bonding, albeit negative bonding.  When kids fight, get them into a calm state before following these steps (you may need to put them in a timeout to calm them down):
1. Ask the children to verbalize what they didn’t like (what led to the fight), such as, “I didn’t like it when Susie knocked down my blocks.”
2. Ask each of the children to reflect back what they heard, such as, “Mark said he didn’t like it when I knocked down his blocks.”
3. Ask the children how things can be done better the next time, such as, “Next time I want to play with the blocks I won’t knock them over.  I’ll use words to ask Mark first.”
4. Have the children make amends.  This is usually more than just saying “I’m sorry” – ask them to do something nice for each other to encourage positive bonding.  Kerry has some great examples on her Bicker Jar handout.

In addition to Kerry’s marriage and family therapy practice, she teaches parenting classes in the Denver area.  To view her flyer, click here: Kerry_Summer_Flyer.

For more information visit Kerry’s website and find her on Facebook.  You can watch a video of Kerry on her Facebook page where she explains using the one-liners mentioned above.

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