… from the bungalow

Operation Stop Whining


“I never even get to do anything fun.”

no whiningThis has been a staple in L’s (the youngest boy’s) repertoire of manipulative language lately. He’s 4-1/2 and intense. Bowling, movies, comic book store… none of it satisfies. At the end of the day, we’re consistently met with whining and grumpy, ungrateful behavior.

I need to improve relationships at home, particularly with L. Yesterday, I asked you all on Facebook if you had any suggestions on how to curb this whining. And of course, being the awesome bunch that you are, you did! Irene and I agreed that trying to infuse an experience with an infectious attitude generally leads to disappointment and regret. Kell suggested plenty of early expression of expectations with clear consequences, and that my own lowered expectations might better prepare me for the outcome. But then, my low expectations set me up for feeling disengaged, which would defeat the purpose of doing fun things with him.

Then I thought, the answer lies somewhere with the idea of acceptance. But I’m so tapped out lately mentally/emotionally that I can’t seem to find the mindfulness to accept things for the way they are. So in an effort to fill my own bucket, I need to set up the family for some successful experiences so I’m actually in a better place to accept when things don’t go the way I’d like.

But how do you create that successful experience in the first place?

Samantha, Joanna and Teri also joined the conversation. They also had great thoughts. Read the entire thread here.

I suspect that it all comes down to investment. I’ve been thinking about what I can do to involve and connect with him, rather than allowing him to create the context and connect with me. Context is part of what builds understanding of the world around us, so it makes sense to allow the boy to have a hand in constructing the context. And I have to imagine that his involvement in planning will help him feel more invested in the experience. Maybe he’ll take a little more responsibility for his reactions. Dunno.

Teri made a great point: watch the way I word things and put him in charge of having fun. I do ask loaded questions like “Did you have fun?”, which he takes as an opportunity to ruffle feathers by saying “no.”

grumpy simianSo this weekend, we’re going to do something fun that L wants to do. I’ll put him in charge of having fun. I’ll ask “What was your favorite part about today?” instead of asking him a question loaded with an expectation. Then I’ll report back next week to let you all know how things turned out.


As Samantha put it, we’re “building a mental scrapbook.” Time to make some memories.

~ Chris

So how do you deal with whining? Also, like this post? Like FtB on Facebook!

Author: Chris

Introspection to a fault. College administrator, parent, soapmaker.

11 thoughts on “Operation Stop Whining

  1. Whining….the boil on the butt of parenthood.

    We got off fairly lucky on our road trip in that there was minimal whining. There were a few total meltdowns, but they were few and far between and the whining was pretty much situationally appropriate – they were tired/hungry or whatever.

    If you figure out how to curb the whining, PLEASE let me know. The sound of 5 kids and one mother whining simultaneously can be quite deafening!


  2. I’m afraid of what he’s going to decide. LOL We’ll see.
    Thanks for trying to connect with Lucas, Chris. It means a lot to me to see you making more effort. I know he’s tricky, but I also know you’ll find a way into that crabby little heart of his. 🙂

    • Thanks, Karin. ❤ Maybe we can ask him what kinds of things he might like to do, then narrow it down. He might just say bowling. That would make it easy. I just want him to feel like he's got some control over something.

  3. Wow, I really feel honoured (yes, I know it is the Canadian spelling!) to be mentioned, let alone respected enough for my opinion to matter. I’ve known you a long time, but every day I am learning how to be a better person through your perspective as well. Kudos for recognizing your own faults, and working to minimize them! You’re a great father and step-father. At the end of the day, keep your head held high. We can only do our best 🙂

  4. I’m looking forward to the report back, and have my fingers crossed that the report is lovely. Whichever way, you’d better believe I’m storing all this information away for a couple years down the road . . .

    • Good thinking, Deb. Sometimes we think L is an exception to typical kid behavior because he’s so intense (he’ll probably be diagnosed with ADHD at some point), but then I hear about similar issues from other parents and it all seems very typical. I suspect it’s a combination of things, not the least of which is all this change and transition. But it’s a good idea to go in prepared! I’ll let you know how it turns out.

  5. We’re kind of jerks about whining. We say, “Is that whining I hear? That sounds an awful lot like whining. Whining doesn’t work in our house.” Also, we tend to put the emphasis on just being together and not on the outings, out of financial necessity. We mostly get to “be bored together” and make cookies, rent a PPV movie, play with the dogs, whatever. I try to be guided by connecting to them rather than entertaining them, because entertaining them is exhausting and expensive. But sometimes they whine, and they get to go whine in their room.

    • Hi, JM. I hear you. It’s almost a non-stop struggle around here these days. But yeah, that’s how we usually deal with it. “Listen, if you’re gonna whine, go do it in your room. Come out when you’re done.”

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  6. Pingback: Operation Stop Whining Followup | … from the bungalow

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