How Do I Help My Whiny Child?

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Dear Kendra,
I am a long time reader of your great blog.  I have three children with number 4 due in a month.  I have an 8-year-old daughter, a 5-year-old son, and a 2-year-old son.  My 5-year-old son is driving my husband and me crazy with whining and complaining and generally not obeying well.  The other two do well and we try to be pretty consistent with consequences.  I remember reading your idea of spending the day on their bed after three warnings (the child, that is, though I think that's what I'd like to do!)  My question is, at what age do you implement this plan?  Is 5 too young?  We'd like to try it.
Thanks so much for your time and your reponse if you can.
In His love,

Hi Sarah-

Did you kidnap my 5-year-old son? :) He's the same way. Oy.  The tool you're describing is the "ticket system", and it works very well for our 5-year-old, so I think yours is the perfect age. What I like so much about it is that when I take away the first ticket, it sort of shocks him into paying better attention to his responses.

Hope that helps!


We will be trying the ticket system ASAP.  One question I have: do you use the three tickets to work just one behavior at a time, such as whining, or do you combine several behaviors to correct with the three tickets? Just wondering if we should stick to one at a time and if doing several would be too much for a  5-year-old.

God bless you!

Sarah, typically we are working on one issue at a time. For our 5-year-old, that's responding well when I tell him an answer other than the one he wants to hear. He'll immediately begin to whine, drop his head and slump his shoulders, shuffle his feet, and then collapse on the floor. Oh brother. Three years of that and we are seriously needing to nip it in the bud.