When You Hear "But I waaant it!"
Don't say: "You can't always get what you want."
The whine-stopper: Yes, it's tempting to start humming that Rolling Stones tune, but what you really need to do is show empathy -- at least before the whining becomes a full-blown tantrum. "Say, 'It does look like a fun toy, and I bet you'd really like it. Should we add it to your birthday list or would you like to save your allowance money for it?'" says Schutta. "This helps kids learn to delay gratification." Plus, this response gives them hope and empowers them, and it teaches them the importance of saving money. "Maybe when your child has saved $1 she can go to the 99-cent store and pick out a toy," says Dr. Walfish. It might be much more valuable to her than other toys because she bought it herself.
Of course, sometimes it's okay just to say "no," without giving a lengthy explanation. "I frequently tell parents that their children need to hear no," says Whitham. "Try to do this at home so they learn to handle disappointment there -- you won't have to deal with as many tantrums at school or in public when they don't get their way." Kids may whine at first, but they really do want you to set limits. It's how they learn self-control -- and feel loved and secure.
Copyright © 2008. Used with permission from the February 2008 issue of Parents magazine.