Creative Child

Top 5 Behaviors That Cause Parents to Lose Their Cool: #2 Whining

(and How to Fix Them)
by Rebecca Eanes on Sep 11th, 2014

The countdown continues to the top behavior that makes parents want to scream. So far, I've covered numbers 5 through 3 on the list: Back talk, tantrums, and not listening. Coming in as the second most frustrating behavior is whining.

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Some parents view whining as a different voice a child uses when she is wanting something. Others mean incessant asking for whatever the child wants after they've been told no. Both types of whining can certainly grate on a parent's nerves, so let's address each one separately.

Whining, in which a child uses a different voice, is actually a more mature form of crying. Scientists have found that our brains are hard-wired to respond to the sounds of a baby's cries (in fact, our emotion centers in our brains light up in about 100 milliseconds after we hear the cry), and whining is just a step up from that. It still provokes a visceral reaction that urges us to take action to make it stop. Only now we don't see a helpless baby; we are generally perceiving a child trying to manipulate us, because isn't that what we've been told for ages?

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You've noticed by now that I talk a lot about perception, and that's because how we perceive our children is key in how we interact with them. If we can switch from the idea of manipulation to seeing a small human trying to get needs met, then we can come to this situation in a calmer state and do a better job of teaching.

Many experts recommend simply ignoring the child when he whines, but as I discussed in the tantrum article, ignoring the people we are close to does nothing positive for our relationship. So what are some concrete steps you can take when your child is whining?

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