As the mother of two young world-class whiners, the behavior modification techniques described in the booklet “Stop Whining!” appeared too simple to be taken seriously. In desperation, however, I decided to give the anti-whining program my best shot. At the time, our two sons were ages 4 and 5.

Day One: Whenever one of the boys whined, I did exactly as prescribed. I got down to his level, looked him straight in the eye and said in a firm yet gentle manner: “Stop whining! I cannot listen to you when you whine because it gives me a headache.”

Next, I imitated what he said and the way he said it, right down to his nasal, high-pitched, sing-song tone. Then, I restated in a grown-up voice what he said using a better choice of words and required him to repeat it without whining, blaming or complaining.

I did this no fewer than 397 times before bedtime on day one.

Day Two: The second day was similar to the first, except after my demonstration of the correct way to communicate, I had to turn away and ignore the child until he restated his need or situation on his own without whining, blaming or complaining.

Day Three: This day’s instructions were challenging, if not severe: If either boy whined, I was to ignore him completely as if he were invisible. From then on, they would only be rewarded with attention when they did not whine — or it was a matter of life and death.

The program worked like magic. In just three days, our little boys became nonwhiners, just as the book promised. It was not so, however, for their mother.

I had my own style of whining. It was somewhat more socially acceptable, mainly because no one could hear it. I whined about my thoughts and attitudes: We don’t make enough money. I want everything everyone else has. I don’t want to wait — I want it right now! I work hard, and I deserve it!

I whined my way into fancy new cars and things like a mink jacket. I wanted to be part of the jet set in which that kind of luxury was standard. I whined until I got what I wanted, and then whined about our miserable financial condition. Whine, whine, whine, whine, whine.

Even on the road to financial recovery, I whined, blamed and complained: It’s too hard. I want to be a stay-at-home mom. It’s just not fair. I’m tired of waiting. I just can’t take this anymore. No one else has it this rough.

One day, out of complete and utter frustration with myself and recalling those sessions with my kids from years before, I sat myself down, looked myself straight in the eye and said: “Stop whining! I cannot listen to you when you whine because it gives me a headache.”

I went on to repeat some of my loathsome whining, and that nearly shocked me to death. Do I really sound like that?

Treatment was clear: I had to kick into tough-love mode and completely ignore myself when I whined. I could not pay attention to myself when I whined, blamed or complained.

The result was fairly astounding. In a short time, I, too, became a nonwhiner.

So, tell me. Are you a whiner? Are you into blaming and complaining? If so, refuse to listen to that anymore. Do not reward yourself with sympathy and attention when you whine, blame and complain. And stop feeling sorry for yourself.

You can either give in to your circumstances or rise above them. You can remain in your misery or climb out of it and look around.

You can dig your pit of despair a little deeper, or you can make the commitment to do whatever it takes to turn your financial life around.

The choice is yours.

Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/ . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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