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The Whingeing Virus


Emotional habits acquired in childhood persist into adulthood. Parents have the right, the power and the duty to raise children as functional beings.

Whingeing is a disfunctional habit. It undermines both rapport and morale. Whingeing is off-putting to desirable potential friends and colleagues — who won’t feel obliged to put up with it (as some parents do).

What one habitually says to oneself about one’s fortune and one’s ability to deal with it, determines one’s success. The same applies between friends and colleagues.

A defeatist attitude, habitually expressed within one’s group or family, will undermine morale — and success.

Indulged whingers lose the ability to solve their own problems. And they become unable to take charge of a situation, always seeking another to fix things for them.

Parents are the major influence in rewarding or extinguishing whingeing behaviour. A few years after starting our own school, we got to observe — through inter-school sports — how even schools can influence this aspect of personality.

We noticed when playing with some schools, that at the drop of a hat — a puff of wind or a drop of rain — the staff would whinge on behalf of the students, who would learn to whinge likewise, demanding their “rights” not to have to play under these conditions.

At another school, we observed that play would continue no matter what, and that even the parents who came to watch, would persist without mentioning the fact that they were being buffeted by weather.

Interestingly, the first schools tend to yield underlings, and the other routinely gains many entries in Who’s Who. A good example of the fact that attitudes and values, not just income, determine social position.

To oppose a state of affairs is not necessarily whingeing. To propose a reform is often rational and constructive. To whinge is to protest without offering or taking responsibility for the solution.

Whingeing is an illegitimate transaction because it habitually implies that it is someone else’s fault if life is not going according to plan. Despite the litigation mentality, there are in reality many misfortunes which are not anybody’s fault. Decision-making often involves a gamble — it demands sportsmanship. It is oppressive to be teamed with a chronic whinger.

If you’ve already got a whinger (easily done), what’s the cure?

Here are 5 suggested steps:

  1. Recognise that the child can and must take a definite and growing level of responsibility for his/her own spirits;
  2. Decide which occasions call for child self-management, and which occasions call for parental rescue (gradually diminishing with age);
  3. Indicate your confidence in your child’s ability to survive by sometimes letting them (if necessary, directing them) to take full charge of a situation affecting them;
  4. Let there be some areas which are always the child’s own business. Do not negotiate. For example, don’t buy into “There isn’t anything to do!”
  5. If you’re catching up, don’t suddenly drastically change the degree of emotional dependence, but move quickly and firmly towards an age appropriate level in several small steps, respectfully but unapologetically explaining each change.

It is vital, if you want to grow a positive adult, to gradually opt out of all self-inflicted miseries. Show love, but don’t undermine the child’s sense of their own mastery of their own life, by inappropriately carrying them.

It is our job to ready them to use their wings. Let’s not get tangled in their feathers.




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