This is a response to a comment made in response to the blog entry on Whining, below. My response became so long, I decided to make it a separate etry.
Good for you for trying the new techniques! It takes a lot of effort to change habits, so don't give up that these new techniques don't come naturally; they will become easy with practice. And you're right-on that everything's easier when you've had enough sleep!
Here's an idea of what to do when your child asks you again and again for something. I like using this progession, because the conversation evolves and you don't just feel like a broken record. In this case, I'll use your example of the cookie she can't have till the next day. The first time she asks for it you tell her, “You can have the rest of the cookie tomorrow.” The second time, “You love cookies, don't you? Don't worry, you can have it tomorrow.” The third time, “Wow, you're really looking forward to having that cookie, aren't you? You can have it tomorrow.” The next time, “Hmm. When CAN you have it?” She answers, tomorrow. You respond enthusiastically. "That's right! You know the answer!" If she's disappointed, you can sympathize. “Yeah. It feels hard to wait, doesn't it?” The next time she asks, you have a question in reply, “Is it tomorrow yet?” She answers no. “It seems like a long time to wait till tomorrow, doesn't it? I know! Why don't we think of something to do while we wait. That will make the time fly by.” The two of you can brainstorm about activities you can do 'while you wait,' and then do one. After this, it turns into the skill of learning how to wait. The next day, when she finally gets the cookie, be sure to point out, “Look! You waited and waited, and now it's finally time.”
If your child has a long memory and is not easily distractable, then she will have to learn to wait. One thing that could help with this process is to tell a story about waiting. Don't tell it while you're telling her she has to wait; let it be completely separate. You can tell it many times, for example, every day at lunchtime or naptime for four or five days. If you're not comfortable telling your child long stories without reading, try making your own storybook, where you write or type it out and draw simple pictures to go along with it, then staple it together. Kids will love a book that's made by you! Here's a story about waiting that I just made up. It's appropriate for most kids ages 3 and older, but younger kids might need a more simple story:
Once upon a time there were two sisters, named Nan and Aga. These sisters lived with their mother in a little house, and loved one another very much. One summer, a carnival came to town! The sisters went together and they had a wonderful time, riding the rollercoasters, playing the games, and seeing the clowns. They came running home. “Mother, mother! Can we go again?” The sisters asked. “Yes,” said the mother, “you may go again next Saturday.” Nan was happy, but Aga began to wail and cry. “Next saturday!” She said, “That is so long from now! How will I wait?”
The next morning, the sisters woke up and the first thing they thought about was the carnival. Aga began to cry. “I don't want to wait! I want to go right now!” Nan replied, “I don't like waiting either. I'll find something to do to help the time go by.” She looked around, and decided that she would make a hat. She found some yarn, and some knitting needles, and before she knew it, it was time for bed.
The next morning, they woke up and Aga began to moan and cry. “I hate waiting! I want to go to the carnival today!” Nan replied, “I don't like waiting either. I'll find something to do to help the time go by.” She looked around, and decided to make a basket. She went to the willow tree and collected some soft branches, and took them home to weave together. Before she knew it, it was time for bed.
The next day came and it was just the same. Aga moaned and cried the entire day, while Nan decided to bake some bread.
Finally, Saturday morning came. Aga and Nan woke up and they were so excited! They could go to the carnival again! They got ready to go, and Nan made some sandwiches from the bread she had baked, and put them in the basket she had made. She put on the hat she had knitted, and they were ready to go. They went to the carnival together, and they both had a wonderful time. As they walked along, Aga thought to herself, “I'm glad to be at the carnival, but I wish I had made fun things while we were waiting, too.”
And from that day forward, whenever it felt hard to wait for something, she would say to Nan, “It feels so hard to wait. What should we to to help pass the time?” And the two girls lived happily till the end of their days.