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Doing Life Together

child phoneA mom asks:

The other day I was so embarrassed because my child whined around when I was trying to talk to another mom. When our children whine, it really bothers us. We want to turn that whining to gratitude. How do we make that happen?

When you want to extinguish one behavior and then replace it with a positive one, you begin by labeling the inappropriate behavior. For example, “Kayla, right now you are whining, that needs to stop in order for mom to listen to what you are saying or need.”

If she doesn’t stop, ignore the whining and restate the expectation-you will only respond when she stops whining. Do not pick her up and don’t engage her until she stops. If a request is involved, ask her to restate it politely.

If you are consistent with withholding your attention for whining and giving attention only when she is not whining, the behavior will eventually end.

Then, at other times of the day, model gratitude by periodically verbalizing things for which you are grateful. Read books about thankfulness and practice thinking of things you are thankful for while you are driving around in the car. Make it a game—who can come up with the most things to be thankful for in the day. You can also memorize scriptures that talk about thankfulness like Psalm 100 and provide a small reward for this.

The point is that you have to intentionally teach children to look for things for which they are grateful. Eventually, they will notice on their own and point them out to you. Keep modeling this as well. Kids learn best by watching their parents. Grateful parents create grateful kids.

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