Sunday, April 15, 2007

Whining Works

When Amy and I first became parents, we had to learn how to discern
what Jada needed. Was she hungry? Tired? Poopy? After a while, we
learned the cues, Amy better than me: a certain cry, a certain grunt,
a certain wave of the hand.

As Jada got older, her cues got more sophisticated, making it easier
to read them. She would even use words sometimes: "Water." "Poopie."
"Outside."

But her verbals still are primitive, and especially when she's not
feeling well, it's easy for her to revert to older patterns of cueing
us: grunts, whines, and out and out tantrums. We know we don't want
to reinforce this sort of behavior, but rather to encourage her to use
words, but the fact of the matter is: whining works.

There are certain noises that a child can make that are so irritating
that they necessarily provoke parents into action. Ergo, in the
child's mind, those noises must work.

We are squarely in that stage with Jada. It doesn't help that she's
sick and that we're sick too, so patience is an unknown entity in our
house right now. But still we need to hold the line and not reinforce
that grunting or whining or howling can put us into motion, not when
she knows the words she needs to use.

Someday she'll know better how to use words. Until then, God help us
as we allow the whining to bypass our ears as we wait for words
instead.

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