More is caught than taught.
That simple truth has caused me to do some serious self-examination many times. When my children question me regarding a decision, I have to ask myself if it might be because they see me do the same to my authority – Lowell.
When all I hear is whining about how they don’t want to work, or the job they have is too hard, or that they don’t have enough time to play . . . it makes me wonder if it’s perhaps because they hear whining from Mama.
I’ve been on a quest this summer to cure the whining in this household. Okay, so maybe “cure” is a strong word! I’ll lower my expectations to “minimizing the whining” instead. I’ve done lots of looking at myself to see if perhaps the attitude is being caught from me. And truthfully, it can be a vicious cycle. If my children are grumpy and whining, it stresses me out so bad that I become grumpy too.
Believe me when I tell you this has not been cured in our household, and that I don’t have all the answers related to curing whining in our homes.
But here is one simple trick that helped make the children more aware of what they were doing.
I had purchased a small marker board to go on our refrigerator so that I could list jobs I needed the children to do over the summer months. Sometimes they would come into the kitchen, see their long list of chores, and the moaning would begin.
One day I had this bright idea.
For the whiner, there would be an extra job.
So before they could look at their list, I warned them about the new rule. The first day, the whiner had to clean all the toilets – by himself!
Nobody whined that day. I guess that job was especially daunting!
However, there came a day when I had to “speak softly, and carry a big stick.” It was time to enforce the new rule. Terrel, our 11-year-old, was caught whining about his job of emptying the dishwasher. There on the marker board was the whiner’s job “Whiner = washes kitchen cupboards!”
I told him that when he was done with the dishwasher, he would have to wash the kitchen cupboards. And proceeded to put up a second “whiner’s job” on the marker board – that of sweeping the floors. He shut the whining off really quick! And as he was washing the cupboards, he was so cheerful he was almost whistling! I told him thanks for having a good attitude. Do you wish to know his reply?
He said, “Well, I don’t want to sweep the floors, too!!”
Now, I’ll be honest that I have let some whining slip through on some days. But simply having the “whiner’s job” listed on the refrigerator for all to see has made the children stop and realize “Oh, I’m whining!” In fact, some days I have forgotten to write the job up there, and they will remind me.
Or write something themselves. Like Megan did the other day:
So, as you’ll see, this is not a perfect way . . . but it has achieved something I wanted to get across to the children.
It has made them more aware of their tone of voice and their bad attitudes.
And if all else fails, I pull out the big guns. This is what was written on the board:
“Whiner = gives Mom a kiss”
For seven-year-old Logan, this was the Punishment of the Year. I kinda enjoyed it!