Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you're fully aware that we are living with one of the most horrific of creatures known to man...the whiny three-year old. The whining has been day and night, literally from the moment he opens his eyes in the morning until he shuts them again at night. The only reprieve we've been given, oddly enough, is when we're not at home. The minute we step back over our threshold it starts again, sometimes even as we pull into the driveway.

I'm scared to even put this in writing, but it appears that we MAY be seeing a downswing in the whining. I actually wondered if the Little Man was suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder, because the second the weather took a turn for the better it seemed to abate slightly. I assure you however, it is by no means gone. We are now down to whining only 65% of the waking hours we spend at home, as opposed to the 90% we've been living with for the past six months. I'll take any improvement I can get at this point.

This post is less about the phase we've been living with and more about the phase that seems to be starting. Let me say this very clearly: BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR. We've been hoping for so long that the whining phase would end that we never even considered what might come next. I bet you're sitting there with bated breath just waiting to hear what we're facing now. Well let me tell you, this phase is a whole new level of excrutiating Hell joy.

This phase is what we like to call Selective Hearing. I'm sure you're familiar with it, as most men suffer from this affliction from time to time...selectively, if you will. This condition only flares up when the Little Man is doing something he is not supposed to be doing, quite often when he is on the verge of breaking something, be it himself or a household item.

We calmly and clearly ask that he stop what he is doing. We calmly and clearly ask again. And again. We then suggest a time out might be in order. Then we ask again. It's about at this point that I lose all conscious memory and Angry Mummy starts to wake up. I think some yelling ensues, some crying (sometimes him, sometimes me), and a time out.

Where it gets really difficult is when we're out in public. What do you do to a) stop your child doing what he's doing, b) teach him that he has to listen to Mummy and Daddy, and c) not look like a raving lunatic that is completely governed by their three year old?

As this phase is so new, I really have NO idea how to effectively deal with it. We're seeing some success with claiming we simply cannot understand what he's saying when he whines, but any tactics on how to deal with being ignored and blatantly disobeyed elude me completely. Being ignored really doesn't work for me. Maybe it's my need for attention, but that's an issue for a whole other post.

I'll keep you posted on how this develops. Comments are appreciated... it would be nice to know SOMEONE is listening!


  1. Oh, the selective hearing problem in my family extends both to my husband and our ten-year-old. It's intensely frustrating, but with my daughter, I have begun requiring her to listen when I talk, otherwise she loses points... The good-behavior points we tally. After 10 she gets some kind of reward. You'd think at this age it wouldn't work so well, but it still does. She loves her little books or Jamba Juice rewards.

  2. I haven't dealt with this stage, so I don't know if my suggestions will help, but when I was a kid I *literally* did NOT hear my mother when she spoke to me without first getting my attention, and it drove her up the wall. But there was nothing I could do to change and I'm still like that.

    Try getting his attention with his name first. Maybe the first couple of times make it a treat?

    "J! J - Are you listening to me? Yes? You may have a cookie. I have put it on the table for you. Please go get it. Thank you for listening."

    And then the next time you need him to listen, make sure to use his name and wait for him to respond before you continue.

    Hope this helps, but if it doesn't, feel free to ignore my assvice!

  3. gillian, i can feel your pain! we have struggles [and i must say continue to do so!] with whining, and selective listening from our 5yo. started around 3ish, and still goes on [sorry!]. You can feel comfort in knowing yours is not the only child who listens selectively + whines!! It seems to be a recurring theme with boys in this age group ;)
    Totally agree with Dr. confused, definitely ensuring he's got your attention first can help. our little guy is often so wrapped up in what he's doing that he literally doesn't always hear, and yes, it is usually when he's up to no good! He seems to respond best to a tap on the shoulder, getting to eye-level, and repeating the message.
    I can say from my perspective that most parents will understand what you are dealing with in public, and if they have the gall to pass judgement on you then they must be lying to themselves!
    good luck!! ps - you are not a lunatic ;)

  4. This post had me rolling. I have three boys. I hear ya!

  5. Also, at this age, don't ask anything twice. You are bigger than him and can stop whatever it is he is doing. Ask once. The second time you ask, calmly remove him from the activity and put him somewhere else. If he goes back to the forbidden activity, then again calmly remove him and put him in time out.

    This is probably harder with a second child in the picture, and of course in the middle of cooking or whatever occupies your hands. But it saves time in the long run if you can skip the screaming/crying step. Some people call this "Get off your butt parenting." ( - not necessarily a recommendation for the site, but a good definition of the term). You can think of it as part of your exercise routine.

    Again, if unwelcome, ignore.

  6. I hear ya! My son has been awful. I'm so tired of the "NO!" constantly and the crying and whining, and now hitting. So, we put him in time out. Hours can be spent on one tantrum that just comes and goes it seems. Sorry I really don't have answers for you like some of your other kind commenters. I am only here to join you in the misery. :)

  7. Thank you everyone for your comments, and Dr. Confused, thank you so much for your suggestions. We will be using those tactics and seeing how it goes!