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The anatomy of a whiner

- Attitude of gratitude -

Name: Wendy Whiner

Scientific name: Complainus neverhappiest

Age: 10

Traits: Whiners commonly express displeasure with a high, insistent, repetitious and annoying cry that makes other children and adults want to pull their hair out. Whiners are accustomed to being at, what they perceive to be, the center of the universe. Whiners are usually created by well-meaning parents. When whiners are determined to get their way, they will demonstrate extreme persistence, raw and sometimes embarrassing emotions, and are prone to relentless complaining and begging.

Common phrases of Complainus neverhappiest: “I’m bored.” “I’m tired.” “Do I have to?” “Why do I have to do all the hard work?” “You never let me do anything.” “This isn’t fun.” “I don’t want to!”

Be warned: Though friends, classmates, schoolteachers, grocery store clerks and even strangers will smile temporarily at a whiner, each is secretly thankful when the whiner is not within miles.

Joe Romero, an elementary educator in Northern California for more than 30 years, puts it succinctly when he says: “Whiners are extremely annoying in the classroom and take the fun out of most activities because the teacher is constantly having to deal with them.”

Taming a whiner: Romero says most whiners are created and not born. That’s good news, he adds, because with a good strategy, discipline and persistence, parents can reverse and even eliminate their child’s whining.

Here’s how:

• Develop and stick to an anti-whining strategy.

• Tell your child whining will no longer be tolerated.

• Set guidelines with the whiner and clearly state your expectations.

• Once you have established guidelines, do not give in to a whiner under any circumstances. “If you do so,” Romero says, “you’ll lose your child’s respect.”

• Inform the whiner’s teacher and other authority figures in the child’s life of your strategy, and enlist such friends in your battle to eliminate the whining. 

• Look for every opportunity to praise your child when she acts appropriately.

• Pray with your child, asking God to help both of you to be grateful for all the good things He provides, including long rides in the car, homework, chores and younger siblings.

Scripture to consider: “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe” (Philippians 2:14,15, NIV).

Conclusion: Whining casts your otherwise good-natured child in a bad light in private and public. The habit can also last a lifetime if not corrected. Do your child a favor and help replace the whining with thankfulness.

Researcher: Kirk Noonan

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