Recently I had a conversation with some friends about how the behavior of our children (and sometimes other people's) can affect our mental state and feeling of life balance.
The reality-laced joke is that they all send their kids to my house to experience what they call, "Auntie Charlene's Boot Camp."
In my domain, manners are non-negotiable. When one of my children says something like, "I'm thirsty," they are likely to get a response from me such as, "That sounds like a big problem."
Child: "I want a drink." Me: "Good luck with that."
Child: "Can I have a drink." Me: "No, thank you."
My kids know the rules and there are no second chances. It's a simple formula which any child will learn remarkably quickly as long as you're steadfast and consistent.
Lack of "please" = request denied. Period.
Healthy life balance includes setting boundaries. Funnily enough, kids prefer to have boundaries. Oh, they won't admit it but it's true.
Positive reinforcement is also really important. Even though they must say "please" and "thank you," I'm sure to give praise every single time they do.
Lots of energy to the behavior I want and as little as possible for the behavior I don't want. (Yes, it works with romantic partners too.)
Along those lines, we have another rule in my house which is, "When you whine, you get nothing."
I'm counting on this being even more effective the closer my daughter gets to the teenage years. I may have to resort to the theme song from Barney for optimal results.
The axiom "when you whine, you get nothing" works for adults too. Life is so much more rewarding from the perspective of gratitude.
It's not always easy to live in a perpetual "no whining zone." Trust me, I know. But it's worth the effort.
Anytime you catch yourself being a Negative Nancy, just start singing "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandeeeee...". And, smile.