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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay mamas, I am new to this forum, but am not so new to the idea of gentle discipline. In the past few weeks a situation has arise with dd that I am finding myself in a situation where I need to call on my fellow MDCers for advice.

We had a new baby 2 months ago. So far dd has been wonderful with the little guy. What has not been so great is the very low level of whining that has insued over the past few weeks. Everything from "Mommy can I have some juice" to "No I don't want to go to sleep." is with a whine, and crying. Now sometimes the crying is real, when she is ready for a nap, or really worked up. But many times it is that "fake" crying for lack of a better word.

My conundrum?

It occured to me yesterday when I was about to take away some toys and a special playdate that when I say "Stop Crying" I might actually be encouraging my dd to repress herself. I mean, obviously something is going on where she feels the need to express herself in this fashion. So if I am forcing onto her "stop crying or else" what am I really accomplishing? Yes the crying abates (sometimes) but is it at a cost I am not privy too?

I would appreciate though/feedback and advice.

Warmly and gently,
GC
 

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hmmm........ I think you are on to something. I am sure someone has read some book with research to back it up.......... but

It just makes sense that if a child is truly upset that saying "stop crying" would be invalidating their feelings. However, if they are not truly crying and faking it?

Have you tried saying something along the lines of "The baby cries when he needs something because she can not talk....... I have to guess at what the baby wants. You and I can talk, I ENJOY SO MUCH talking to you. You do not have to cry to get what you want or need, I love you and I will always help you, take care of you..... etc.

??????
-Michelle
 

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Yeah, I think the stop crying thing probably does invalidate emotions that our kiddos have. (I've noticed that I hear parents of boys saying it so much more than parents of girls, and I totally found myself doing it when DS was a bit younger.)

Maybe you could try giving voice to her feelings?

"Do you feel sad/upset/frustrated/angry about _______________? What can we do to make you feel better about __________?"

or, if it is because you can't do what she wants you to do at that moment,

"I know you feel frustrated because you want a juice, and I'll be happy to help you get one in a minute. It can be hard to wait, can't it?"

or just an open ended, "Can you use your wrds to tell me how you're feeling? It is hard for me to understand you when you're crying."

Kaly
 

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When my dd2 was born, dd1 most definitely had some emotions going on that were beyond her understanding. She had previously been sleeping soundly throughout the night, but started waking up wanting a baba several times per night. After a few months of entertaining this, one night I told her 'no'. She cried terribly, and I stayed right there to support her, hold her, love her. I really believe that she wasn't crying over the bottle, rather letting out some of those confused emotions that were inside her. After that night, she resumed her normal sleep patterns.

If you read a book by Aletha Solther called "Helping Your Young Child Flourish", she has some thoughts about crying, letting it out, and repressing emotions. A very interesting read. She says that sometimes children need to cry, but will pick something unrelated to trigger that session. In our case, it was the bottle. Do not confuse this with CIO (sleep training). You should never let your child cry alone.

My dd has a doll that looks like a real baby. It has been very helpful to help her deal with some of her feelings. For a while she was insisting that I help her change its dipe, bathe it, take it for walks etc. I think it was her way of feeling like she was still getting the attention that the new baby was getting.

As time passes, things will settle down. But I do believe it is important to discuss her feelings with her often, and allow her to express them.
 

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yeah i like the pps' responses...i agree that telling DD to stop crying doesn't really solve the problem...you don't get at the real reason that she's crying, even if it's fake, and you're sort of telling her that you're not interested in knowing her reason...i really like zipperump-a-zoomum's (GREAT name!!) suggestions...good luck!
 

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dd is also at time whiney -- but i realised she is also immitating Max's crying, and she thinks it is fun, and she does not mean to cry and whine.

i usually tell her 'it is okay to cry', and that she must be frusrated, and i make sure i validate her feelings. i often add that this does not mean that i will comply with her demands. but i make sure she knows it is safe to express her emotions.

if i say 'stop crying' she will look at me and cry her hardest :LOL
 

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I just don't think saying "stop crying" is very productive or nice.

I think it is fine to say something like "if you want to talk about what is upsetting you, I am right here. Would you like a hug for now though"

Crying can be annoying especailly when its kind of "fake' but I don't see any point in trying to force its repression.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by maya44
I just don't think saying "stop crying" is very productive or nice.

I concur, especially abou the nice part, which makes me feel sad. I guess it is the catalyst about why I am trying to figure out my incentive, and change my ways. The crying is annoying and I lose my patience with it.

Although dd is extremely articulate and expressive, I find it hard to expect her to account for exactly why she is acting out the way that she is. It is hard to help her give voice to her opinions, without acutally imposing my opinion of what is going on with her onto her, kwim? If I say do you feel this way becuase of this, her answer will probably be yes. 5 minutes later I could say something different and she would also say yes. I do think you are all correct in saying that it is not getting at the source, but the problem then becomes how to get at the source.

I think I really have to focus more time on her and that maybe she is just missing her mommy. July and August will be better months since she is only in daycare part time. She is in full time now (9-3) , as I am a wahm who has an office outside the home a few blocks away (make sense?)

Suzetta, interesting point about the sleep issues as dd is also having some of those at the moment. We have changed the nighttime routine a bit and that seemed to abate the resistance to go to bed, but she is still waking VERY early - like 4 and won't go back to sleep unless dh sleeps on the floor. We have tried pulling her back in bed with us, but w/ dh, me and ds a full bed is already tight! So much so that she says "i dont want to sleep in that bed"


Thanks for the replies and advice. Many more are welcome!
 

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my dd is 3.25 and my ds is 8 months. i hear you. i also see where you're coming from with your question/observation and i agree. telling someone (anyone) not to cry can, i think, be construed as a message that their feelings/frustrations/anger/sadness/disappointmet etc, are not valid.

to this day, when i cry, i go into the bathroom and close the door and wail, because i was not allowed to when i was a child, 'stop crying or i'll give you something to cry about' was what i heard-whether it was real crying or 'fake' crying. someone here pointed out that even 'fake' crying is communicative, and that has made me rethink telling dd to stop her fake crying.

i will sometimes ask her how she's feeling, or make a guess, but i'm not always correct, and she doesn't always want to talk about it at the time.

hang in there.
 

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nak...yes i agree trying to stop the crying is not effective and could be damaging. further, even if we suspect the crying is "fake" i think it sends a very dangerous message when we suggest to our kids that WE know what they are feeling, not what they say they are, kwim? so i think we should always go with the assumption of genuine upset.

with that said, we've had great success dealign with whining by "practising" in moments of peace and calm. I honestly dont think young children understand what whining is, notice it, or are able to stop and think enough to control it on their own. they're upset about soemthing, no matter how small, and they are focussed on that, not what their voice sounds like. so when dd and i are playing happily i'll talk to her about "whiny voice' versus "normal voice' and we'll practice each kind, whihc usually ends in laughter, but it helps her to get the difference. i tell her whiny voices "hurt my head" and ask her to use her normal voice. i don't say it in a mean way, just a polite request type of voice. "honey, you're using a whiny voice and it's making my head hurt, can you use a normal voice?". This is done, of coures, for simple things like her asking for water or something else like that. If it were a serious issue I'd completely ignore the whining and get to the issue at hand. Whining is a stage, and I think it will pass eventually adn needn't be dwelt on too much. There is no sin in whining. Kids just need to learn to recognize it and eventually they'll be able to thinka bout it before hand and not whine.

s
 

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Do not be too worried about telling your kid to "stop crying." A child has to learn to control his/her feelings. And if you allow her to continue to cry she will begin to think that crying is an acceptable form of communication.

If you feel like you do not want to tell her to stop crying you do not have to, but then you must make it a point to never (and I mean NEVER) give in to her crying. If you do, she will continue to cry to get her way.

You say that she whines a lot. The reason she probably whines so much is because she has already learned that by whining or crying she will get more attention than by speaking. This is normal in a child, because for so long they have had to cry to even be understood, but you do not want to encourage this.

If I were giving you advice I would tell you that you should express to your child that he/she should not cry to try and get what they want. I see that you are afraid that she may be repressing her feelings, but there are a few studies that show that repressing feelings of anger or frustration are actually healthy forms of coping. Repression is the way we learn to handle our negative emotions. (I'm sorry I do not remember the name or the study: the conclusion, though, was that people that repressed their emotions were less likely to commit violence against people whom they perceived as having hurt them).

I'm not a doctor so of course you should do more research...

A lot of other people have expressed fear that you are not validating a child's emotions when you tell him/her to not cry; but a child's emotions of anger and frustration are very often NOT valid. They are coming from a point-of-view that only takes them-selves into account. You should not validate these emotions...in fact you should try to get children to see things from your point of view. Rewarding them when they cry (by giving in, or giving them a hug, or validating their tantrums) will only get them to continue crying to get their way.

The best way to get them to stop whining is to not give in. After they stop crying, then you can say something like, "I understand you were mad." When you speak to them while they are not whining you are validating their self control (if they begin to cry again stop speaking to them). Also a trick I've seen used is sending them to their room while they are crying. They get to come out when they stop crying. Have the children monitor themselves. They choose when they are going to stop crying...so they get to choose when they come out.

Lastly (I know this is a bit long) children may not know consciously that they are whining, but they certainly know what works. If by whining they get your attention, they will use it. The source of her constantly crying is most likely that it works and she understands this subconsciously. So do not give in to it. Being tough isn't a bad thing...

Her whining is annoying to you and it will be annoying to the other people in her life when she gets older. If she learns that whining is an acceptable form of communication now, then it will be very difficult for her to stop doing it as an adult. You are not doing her a favor by validating her actions.

As you said she can not communicate her feelings of frustration to you. So what you are doing when you ask her how she is feeling and why is telling her that her feelings of frustration are more important then other people's (say your being annoyed).

I know that what I'm telling you is very different than what most people would say...but try it for a week and you will see changes.
 

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jXevyer, I have to say that I have never heard of repressing emotions being healthy, and that concept makes absolutely NO sense to me. Could you provide a link to the studies you mentioned?
Also, what does a person's age have to do with how valid thier emotions are? That seems a very harsh view of children.

If I tried your approach I would be afraid I was teaching my child not to be true to themselves and creating a relationship with them that would not include trust and unconditional love.
 

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OK, I can't figure out whether I should bite on the previous post or not -- I mean, I know the op is not of this person's persuasion...but it's hard to not respond to some of these statements:

Quote:

Originally Posted by jXevyer
And if you allow her to continue to cry she will begin to think that crying is an acceptable form of communication..
It is an acceptable form of communication, no matter how irritating the "fake" kind may be to us. Fake crying is a toddler doing her best to get her needs met, even if it isn't working very well. It is developmentally appropriate, especially after the birth of a new baby, and the way we help them develop further is by responding to the valid emotion underneath and helping them find a way to express that emotion in more detail. In the process, the "fake" crying may become less necessary for the child as she feels heard.

Quote:
but a child's emotions of anger and frustration are very often NOT valid. They are coming from a point-of-view that only takes them-selves into account..
Since when is feeling angry or frustrated not valid? It's just a feeling, just a jumping-off point for communicating with oneself and others. And not taking others' feelings into account is developmentally appropriate at this age. It may be frustrating for you, but it passes naturally if the child is treated with respect, and it is actually a great opportunity to teach children about how to honor another person's feelings while still having your own. Children who are treated with true empathy and respect grow into adults who treat others with empathy and respect.

Quote:
Also a trick I've seen used is sending them to their room while they are crying..
What the child needs is to learn more effective ways to communicate, not be taught NOT to communicate. This technique is ignoring the root cause of the crying and teaching instead that it's not OK to feel bad for no reason, or be confused about one's feelings, or need help, or be frustrated, etc. These are all things that we all feel throughout life, and in childhood is when parents can give their kids really great tools for dealing more effectively with those feelings, not feeling ashamed of or hiding those feelings.

Quote:
Lastly (I know this is a bit long) children may not know consciously that they are whining, but they certainly know what works..
Yes, that's true. What's wrong with that? It's important to try to get needs met. Parents can help by giving children tools that work better to get their needs met, while still respecting those around them. For the parent, that means expressing to the child that you value their feelings and perspective, and are interested in seeing how their needs AND the family needs can be met. This can be done, but it takes skill and patience. Parenting is hard but worth it. Stick around this forum -- I think you'll be inspired by ways that parents on here are communicating with their kids in really effective ways that give their kids more and more tools for respecting their own and others' emotions and needs.

Quote:
If she learns that whining is an acceptable form of communication now, then it will be very difficult for her to stop doing it as an adult..
Children who receive empathy and respect as children, expecially when they are having difficulty with something or doing something ineffectively, become adults who can offer that respect, empathy, and problem-solving ability to every situation and person they encounter.

Quote:
I know that what I'm telling you is very different than what most people would say...but try it for a week and you will see changes.
You are favoring short term change at any cost. Lots of horrible and long-term ineffective techniques produce change, but at what cost?

You are advocating having power over children, but I would much prefer to have influence. Power has an expiration date (when the kid gets big enough or old enough to not be affected by power techniques) and destroys long-term relationships; influence is life-long and is the result of true respect in a relationship.
 

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How old is your dd? I think that managing emotions is one of the hardest things humans have to do. Most grownups have trouble dealing with intense emotions (ie sadness, anger, jealously) in a productive way.

I try to think of myself in a traffic jam. Or watching to a politician I really hate win an election. Or it's a super hot day and our air-conditioning goes out. Think of the last time you felt depressed or overtired or really hungry or disappointed.

Kids don't have coping mechanisms. They are starting to experience more and more powerful and complex emotions. They need help! I think the best thing you can do is set a good example. I tell my kids how I'm feeling--when I need space to calm down, when I'm going to get some exercise to improve my mood, when I'm feeling overwhelmed and need a break, when I'm going crazy and we need to get out of the house. They see that I feel the same stuff they do, but deal with it calmly and positively. When I screw up, I apologize for losing my temper, raising my voice, threatening.

When they are in a funk, they have a model of how to handle it. I say, "You seem like you need something. Do you know what it is?" If they don't, you can offer suggestions, "Are you hungry/thirsty? Do you need attention? Would you like me to read you a book? Do you want a hug/bath/time alone?"

With baby jealousy, what works for my dd's is scheduled "Mama-time" when they know they'll get my full attention at such-and-such time. At 3 and 4, they loved to play that they were the baby--I'd let them whine and cry and sooth them and talk to them in baby talk etc. After about 15 minutes they've had enough and are ready to be big girls again.

With fakey cries, I'll try to joke them out of it or give them some time and space to work on what's making them feel "not right" underneath. IMO, "Don't cry" isn't helpful. They need help dealing with the tide of emotions--they aren't going to just stop feeling.

A great book is "Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child" by John Gottman. Some of his points are:
--Recognize (your child's) emotional expression as an opportunity for intimacy and teaching.
--Label emotions in words a child can understand.
--Help a child come up with an appropriate way to solve a problem or deal with an upsetting issue or situation.
 

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To the OP - I think you got some wonderful suggestions from many posters, I just wanted to address one specific post that I completely disagree with.

Quote:

Originally Posted by jXevyer
A child has to learn to control his/her feelings
I am a little confused by this statement. What does controlling the feeling entail? Not having the feeling anymore? In that case I disagree, because one - I don't think it is possible, two - even if it was possible that in not healthy
If what you mean (and I think this is what you mean) is controlling the way a child expresses the feelings, then yes, we all "have to" learn that, but it's not learned by being told to "stop it"

Quote:

Originally Posted by jXevyer
And if you allow her to continue to cry she will begin to think that crying is an acceptable form of communication.
And it absolutely is. May be not the most efficient, not the most pleasing to the other party's ears, but it is an essential form of communication, especially for the young child.

Quote:

Originally Posted by jXevyer
but then you must make it a point to never (and I mean NEVER) give in to her crying. If you do, she will continue to cry to get her way.
I am glad my husband does not feel this way when I cry. He usually comforts me and helps me resolve whatever it was that made me cry. That's what I do with kids and it is much harder, because often it is very hard for people who had very little experience in this life to communicate the feelings in the way that I am able to understand.. But the more we practice the more all of us become proficient - DC in relating and I in understanding

Quote:

Originally Posted by jXevyer
but a child's emotions of anger and frustration are very often NOT valid.
According to whom? Not valid to a person on the receiving end may be, but VERY valid to the child him/herself

Quote:

Originally Posted by jXevyer
They are coming from a point-of-view that only takes them-selves into account
Yes, it is absolutely normal. And we (adults)are there to demonstrate how to take other's feelings into account. And what the better way to start than taking THEIR feelings seriously.

Quote:

Originally Posted by jXevyer
I know that what I'm telling you is very different than what most people would say...but try it for a week and you will see changes.
I agree with you on that. She WILL see the changes. Then a few years from today she will have a teenager that WILL not bring up any concerns to the parents, because after all, what does she think, her feelings are valid or something?
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by goodcents
The crying is annoying and I lose my patience with it.
Totally understandable.


Quote:

Originally Posted by goodcents
It is hard to help her give voice to her opinions, without acutally imposing my opinion of what is going on with her onto her, kwim? If I say do you feel this way becuase of this, her answer will probably be yes. 5 minutes later I could say something different and she would also say yes. I do think you are all correct in saying that it is not getting at the source, but the problem then becomes how to get at the source.
My experience with this is that statements are more effective than questions, and that guessing is more important than getting it right. So saying "It seems like you're saying (or feeling)..." is a more helpful communication to a child than asking them what they're feeling. (and still as respectful as long as you make the statement in a guessing way.) They sometimes don't know what they're feeling, but they know if something you've said isn't what they're feeling, or sometimes is. And it is actually really empowering and great verbal practice for kids to correct your guess at their feelings, if you're wrong in your guess. Correcting you can get them started in feeling more effective at verbalizing their feelings. And even if they're silent in reponse to your statement, at least they're not feeling pressured to say yes, and it's left open-ended.

Both a statement and a question communicate your desire to understand, which is what's most important. I just find that statements usually avoid the child's tendency to want to please you with the right answer, or avoid tension with the right answer. Sometimes saying yes to everything is a way of saying that they're not sure what they feel, and sometimes it's helpful for that feeling of confusion, or difficulty communicating, to be validated. As in "I know it's sometimes hard to talk about big feelings."

HTH... Good luck mama, sounds like you're doing great already.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by fourgrtkidos
It just makes sense that if a child is truly upset that saying "stop crying" would be invalidating their feelings. However, if they are not truly crying and faking it?
My 2.5 year old does the fake crying thing a lot, when she is clearly angry and upset but can't quite get to the real level of crying. My 7 year old tells her it's fake crying and they get into those back and forth arguments. Today she asked, "Mommy, do you think it is fake crying?" I said yes, but at the same time I think her emotions are real enough.

I honestly go back and forth on this topic a lot. I don't want to repress emotions, I want them to honestly assess them and understand them as the first part in dealing with what is going on. At the same time I don't want to encourage my kids just to give into every single feeling of frustration and anger with the biggest response they have in their arsenal of display. My 7 year old has this tendency to scream like she's being killed when confronted by small daily frustrations. It can be really startling for me because I think something is seriously wrong. I do tell her that I understand that she is angry and frustrated, but throwing things and screaming is not really an acceptable way to deal with it, and I explain why. Usually after the fact.

And sometimes I just ignore it and figure they are her feelings and she needs to deal with them in her own way. I have told her point blank that I find her outbursts annoying and *I* don't want to hear them, so one of us needs to leave the room if she really does need to scream for some reason. Honestly, I am burned out and desensitized to a lot of crying and screaming, especially since my 2 year old has taken to screaming more often. I just can't process it, and sometimes I feel like they are trying to draw me into how they are feeling by inducing me to feel the same way. The emotions can be contagious and it is hard for me to stay positive when people are angry, yelling at me and even hitting me, which from a biological standpoint seems normal. Of course I'm going to get upset too.

Part of The Continuum Concept that I found interesting was when she was describing the level of frustration that her group felt when they were having problems with the canoe and getting bumped or scratched or whatever. And they responded angrily and cursed, but the people in the village they were visiting had a completely different reaction, which was to laugh and find it amusing. I think we've all been in a situation where after awhile stuff did seem funny after being really frustrating. Right now I am trying to use humor to defuse the situation. Much harder with my 7 year old who has never had a good sense of humor and who is very easily frustrated and has poor coping skills. I don't want to encourage her to give into every feeling of frustration that comes her way, because I worry then she'll just be an adult who can't cope with things either, and expects everything to go her way. But I'm not sure what to do either.
 

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Thanks for posting. I'm having trouble myself with controlling my impulse to tell ds to "stop crying/whining." I know I don't want to, and that if he's crying he has a reason, even if I can't see it. But...like I said, it just comes out sometimes.

Quote:

Originally Posted by maya44
I just don't think saying "stop crying" is very productive or nice.

I think it is fine to say something like "if you want to talk about what is upsetting you, I am right here. Would you like a hug for now though"

Crying can be annoying especailly when its kind of "fake' but I don't see any point in trying to force its repression.
Great thoughts. I'm going to try to use that line until I get better at controlling my impulse


Quote:

Originally Posted by jXevyer
If you feel like you do not want to tell her to stop crying you do not have to, but then you must make it a point to never (and I mean NEVER) give in to her crying. If you do, she will continue to cry to get her way.
(snip)
lot of other people have expressed fear that you are not validating a child's emotions when you tell him/her to not cry; but a child's emotions of anger and frustration are very often NOT valid.
gotta say, I disagree with just about everything in this post, especially what I quoted. It makes no sense to me.
 

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How old is the child in question? That makes a difference.

I will share my experience. I was always of the it is fine to cry school of thinking. I will empathize and cuddle, etc. What happened here though is that at a certain point - when my son was seven years old or so, I realized that he wasn't making himself feel better when he cried. Instead what was sometimes happening is that he was simply getting himself more and more wound even though he was getting support, etc. he would just get more and more wound up. He's a sensitive kid prone to extremes of emotion and instead of the crying functioning as it does for many of us as a way to let off steam it actually was picking up steam.

My approach to this was to decide what I was going to do. Not to focus on trying to change his crying, but to evaluate what role I wanted to play in it. So, for example if he got hurt I'd offer hugs, a bandaid etc. for a bit and then I'd move on. If he was still crying five minutes later I would simply offer information, "you've been crying for five minutes, do you still need to or are you ready to be done?" What I can report is that within a month of this he began to cry for MUCH less time and to feel more in control of himself. I would never in a million years have told him to stop crying or suggested that it isn't okay to cry, but he really needed to hear sometimes that it was okay to move on to something else. While none of us want repressed children who can't express emotions, it should be a long term goal for children to have some control over how they express their emotions. Obviously we'd prefer not to raise children who punch people when they are angry or cry in a business meeting when they don't get their way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Oh dear - I am not even going to address the poster with a single post, who, by way of example isn't familiar with AP practices.

My DD is doing great, this post was from almost a year ago. Simply stating "I don't understand the whiney voice." works wonders. I don't give in or respond unless she speaks in a normal fashion. When she cries, and I mean really cries, we talk about and work through whatever she is going through. She is a sensitive, articulate, tiny human being. She deserves to have her feelings acknowledged and treated with respect.
 
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