Here's a conversation that went down over the summer between Bug (age four and a half) and his grandpa:
Bug (in a demanding voice): "I want milk!"
Grandpa: "Well, you're not getting anything if you ask like that."
Bug: "I don't wanna ask in a nice voice!"
Grandpa: "Well, then you're not getting any milk."
Bug: "If you make me ask in a nice voice, I'm not coming to visit you anymore."
Grandpa: "Ooooooo...am I supposed to be scared?"
(Is my dad awesome, or what?)
The whining and disrespectful behavior from both of my kids has really been bugging me since the summer (it's all finally coming to a head for some reason). I'm the type of person who cannot bear the sound of whining, and I know I've created the monsters by giving in to it too much. The time has come, however, to buckle down and extinguish. The conversation above, coupled with an impromptu mini-intervention by my sister, dad, and mom ("the boys are too old to be acting like this") has given me a little resolve.
We had a little jump start on "Operation Stop Whining" in August when the boys and I went camping with the above-mentioned family members. Prickly Aunt and Grandpa were the most adamant about the kids' behavior: they stuck to their guns and wouldn't give in to the boys' rudeness and whining. What I admired most, aside from their ability to ride through the most ridiculous hissy-fits, was how they approached the "teaching" with dry humor (I heard my sister ask each kid sarcastically, "what are you, two?").
Now that's my style of parenting.
The problem I've had with the standard parenting advice is that it's just not me. Good or bad, I tend to approach everything with some amount of wit, and playing the sing-song-y "I'll listen to you when you ask me in a nice voice" broken record has just ended up being too inauthentic in the context of the way we run our family.
Now, I know I can't use this "Sarcastic Supernanny" method all the time...but if I can throw it in the parenting toolbox along with some other authentic-to-me options (like the power of a bluntly-worded suggestion: "A better way to ask would be, 'Mommy, can you come in the bathroom and wipe me?'"), I might actually have the beginning of an actual plan.
Ask me for some milk now, Bug. I dare you!