Yesterday, Trump did what Trump does better than anything not involving sexual assault: whine. Among his targets were the media and—I wish I were fucking kidding—Meryl Streep. He will almost certainly continue his whining tomorrow. I’d like to help him stop that. And thanks to the Google machine, I have access to thousands of articles with advice for people like me trying to help people like him. The most authoritative article—or, at least, the first one that came up when I searched “how to deal with a whiny toddler”—is this gem from parents.com:
Whine? Not! Four Ways to Deal with Whining Children by Caroline Schaefer
Okay, great. Four ways. Caroline, what’s the first?
Step 1: React
[H]elp your child understand that her whining voice is very hard to listen to. You can say, “I can’t understand you when you whine. If you want to tell me how you feel, then I need you to use your regular voice.” Don’t assume she knows what it means to whine. Demonstrate how it sounds by whining back at her[.]. Also, take stock of whether she may be whining because she’s tired or hungry.
Okay. Let’s react.
As of this writing, a full five minutes after I sent the above tweet, I’ve received no response. Disappointing.
Maybe if I stick with react, but go at it from a different angle.
Crickets. Caroline. Not impressed so far.
Perhaps the second way will be more useful.
Step 2: Relate
Try to get to the bottom of your kid’s bellyaching. Is he whining because he’s trying to control a situation? . . . Is he simply venting? Just as you like to gripe to your partner about a bad day at work or a stressful exchange with another mom, 3- and 4-year-olds need to express themselves too. You might start by saying, “I know you really want to have an extra balloon, but each child gets only one at the party,” Dr. Hackney advises. This will validate his feelings and also give him a reason why you’re rejecting his request.
Validate his feelings and then gently explain to him why he is wrong. Okay.
That one got away from me at the end there. That’s my bad Donald. That’s my bad Caroline.
Step 3: Rephrase
Whenever I take Avery along to the drugstore, she pleads at the top of her lungs when she sees the seductive selection of candy at the checkout aisle. To keep her quiet (and to avoid the cashier’s scowls), I usually give in to her squeals for chocolate within a nano-second. Dr. Hackney suggests a better strategy, which will keep both me and the dentist happy: “Ask her to use her nice voice and to say please, and demonstrate exactly what to say and how to say it. Once she does that, you can then respond to her request with a yes or a reasoned no.”
Okay, I can do this one.
I feel like I made some progress. Again, no response five minutes after I tweeted. But I think I at least planted the seed. I feel good about this one.
Step 4: Reward
When your preschooler does ask you for something in a calm, sweet way (“Can I please have a cookie?”), it’s a perfect opportunity to recognize and reinforce his good behavior. “Don’t be afraid to gush! You can say, ‘Wow, what a lovely way to ask. That sounded so nice,’ ” says Dr. Hackney. Even if you refuse his request (“We are going to save our appetite for dinner and skip the cookie now”), pointing out how well he used his good voice will make him less likely to resort to whining next time. You’ll be relieved you’ve silenced the din, and he’ll have learned how to make himself heard.
Find a nice thing he has said and reward him. Got it.
Nailed it. Thanks Caroline.