As children grow older you should learn to recognise the fundamental characteristic of the serial whinger; they cry louder and harder when attention is given.
This is a child who uses their tears to gain attention or to get what they want. It is important to break this habit early as children can be very clever and get this performance to an art form and will use it to get their own way. At the end of the day, you would do anything to stop that screeching.
Here are my tips for a permanent cure of the serial whinger.
1. First, ask if they are in danger
Find out if the child is in danger or hurt badly. By asking, ‘Are you hurt?‘
2. Next, let them cry it out
Once established that it is not a life threatening situation for the child, although it may sound like it, let them cry it out. Let them know you are still there, do not abandon them. Keep the door open if they are in a room. Or preoccupy yourself in the same room close to the child.
Tell them to let you know when they are ready to speak. Do not give them any of your attention until they cease crying and come to you.
3. Then, let them know it is ok to be upset
Tell the child that it is ok to feel sad and that it is ok to cry when we are upset but that we need them to use their words so we can help.
Ask the child questions to find a cause to the problem.’Can you speak? Can you use your words to tell me what is wrong?‘ They may need a few minutes to calm and catch a breath. Wait patiently.
4. Finally, ask how you can make them feel better
Resolve the issue by saying ‘Tell me how I can help you and make you feel better?’
Talk with the child about their feelings and issues. Use a soft, kind and encouraging voice when discussing the decisions.
If it were an incident involving another child, bring the children together to decide what they could have done and try it out.
It is hard to ‘ignore’ a child who is in distress. But following the above examples and not giving in to their crying will be of more benefit in the long run.