It's shocking how virtually all of the behavioral challenges of my kids (and myself) can all be attributed to lack of sleep. Although we practice Judaism in the home, we are true disciples of sleep. Meaning that we run our lives so that our kids are in jammies by 7:00 and asleep by 7:30. Except for the baby, who is 11 weeks old and isn't yet on the program. That would be nice...
Sleep is the key to happy children who role with the punches. We find that even 15-30 minutes of shortage leads to a mess. For example, this morning our boys were fighting and shouting downstairs as they were preparing for their day of school/pre-school. I spoke with our eldest, who was devastated that our au pair had taken apart a lego airplane and hadn't apologized. Not sure what Livia did wrong, but he was having a fit. So I asked if his brother had woken him up that morning and sure enough, the younger one had woken the elder before he was ready. Hell hath no fury like a tired five year old.
Yesterday, after three hours of a bouncy-house birthday party, my younger boy and I stopped at a friends to meet their newborn. We couldn't find parking...anyway, we were parked on the sidewalk/driveway of their apartment and talking outside. Taylor, now nap-deprived, finds that his ears do not work when he is tired. So he is wandering into the street (and yes, I see him and stop him prior to getting there). And whining about wanting to go in their apartment. So much so, that he gets placed back in the car (I am standing next to the car), strapped in and the door shut. He needed a nap and two minutes into our drive home, he fell asleep.
Every time I deprive the kids of sleep, we pay. So - 11-12 hours a night plus a 1-3 hour nap for the under 5 set (and the 5 year old could use it)...that's the ticket for significant reduction in whining. Works for me.