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Whiny 4 year old
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Whiny 4 year old

Dear Doctor.

My Daughter (Lizzy) whines throughtout the day. From the morining to night time.
I have been using the ticket method.  If she whines she loses a ticket and spends
5 minutes in her room.  She gets 4 tickets a day and by the end of the day she
is down to one.  I have a son who is 9 that doesn't help the matter.

Thanks for your help,
H Adams
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521840_tn?1348844371
Hello,
   The hardest thing with whining is to stop paying attention to it. Your daughter did not start whining by accident. Somehow along the way she managed to use it to get some desirable results. Most likely the whining grated on you until you either payed attention to her or gave her what she was whining to have. It doesn't take many times of getting the desired outcome for the behavior for it to become part of a child's day to day ways of functioning.

   I would suggest changing you tactics away from the ticket system to one based on positive rewards and teaching new behaviors (in this case, using a pleasant voice instead of a whine). Positive interventions work better than punishing ones. First, set up a clear glass or plastic jar with a collection of marbles. When she is using a 'big girl voice' put a marble in the jar (or whatever you want to call the desirable voice, depending on her age, for an older child you can use 'polite voice' or 'pleasant voice'). Decide on a number of marbles that will be worth some sort of reward--something small like an extra story, a special breakfast cereal, stickers etc. Small rewards work as well or better than big ones. Whenever she uses a non-whining voice, give specific praise "I love to hear you ask me in such a grown up voice." "That voice is delightful to hear!" Give hugs and lots of attention when she uses the pleasant voice.

When she whines, you will need to make a very concerted effort to ignore it. Do not give her what she is asking for until she uses her polite voice. For the first few days, tell her that you do not like whining, and you are going to wait until she uses her pleasant voice. Thats it--do not insult her or call her a baby, just state what you are going to do in a calm voice. Then you need to completely ignore the whining. Go out of the room she is in if necessary. Turn your face away and pick up a book or something. She will probably whine more intensely for a while, but will eventually give it up when she realizes that you are ignoring her and her requests. Its important that your spouse and other adults follow the same plan or she will continue to whine.

I am guessing the brother is provoking her to whine. He is probably enjoying how easy she is to provoke and I am sure he knows how irritating it is for you. What an easy way to get his little sister in trouble. Check out the book Siblings Without Rivalry by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish for great tips on managing these types of behaviors.

Best Wishes
Rebecca Resnik
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