Creative Child

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

(and How to Fix Them)
by Rebecca Eanes


1. Listen. Often, children just want to feel heard and understood. Show empathy for when the child's upset. This can be hard to do when our brain is screaming "make it stop!" However, the more we practice empathy, the easier it becomes.

2. Look for the reason behind the behavior. Children may whine for all sorts of reasons, and their whining may actually be a cry for connection or help. It may simply be a release of pent-up emotions or maybe she's tired or overwhelmed or hungry. Meet the need behind the behavior if you can discern what it is, and the behavior will cease.

3. Provide lots of preemptive cuddles and laughter. Did you know that laughing releases the same bad, built-up feelings as crying? Spending some time every day giggling and connecting will lessen whining.

Okay, so your child is a bit older, and you suspect she is whining simply because she thinks you'll give in to her requests if she nags you. Here are some tips to deal with that type of whining and empower your child with better communicative skills.

4. Teach your child the difference between a strong voice and a whiny voice. She may not even be aware that she is using a whiny voice. You can do this through play with puppets or toys to show her the difference. When she begins to use the whiny voice, tell her to please use her strong voice.
5. Give him some control. Some children whine because they feel powerless. Make sure your child knows he is a valuable part of the family and give him choices throughout the day so that he feels he has some control over his daily life.

6. Teach negotiating skills. This will alleviate the feeling of powerlessness that triggers whining while also teaching your child an important skill. Teach him to state his needs and wants in a respectful manner and how to work to find solutions that will satisfy everyone's needs. If she wants to go to the park, but you have dinner to cook, then you may negotiate that she helps you with dinner and you will take her to the park afterward. If your child knows you will listen and take her needs and wants seriously, she will feel more important and connected and the need to whine about things will dissipate.

7. Don't give in. Once you have established that you will take your child's requests into consideration seriously, then you've also established that no means no. I tell my children "I will always say yes when I can, but when I say no, I mean no." If they ask again, I simply say, "You've already asked me, and I've already answered." When they realize that will be the consistent response, the whining stops.

The second most frustrating behavior doesn't have to rule your life. Use these 7 steps, and be consistent, loving and remain positive!

Related Article: Consequences That Teach

Here are the other posts in the "Top 5 Behaviors That Cause Parents to Lose Their Cool" Series: 

#1 Aggression

#3 Not Listening

#4 Tantrums

#5 Back Talk

Rebecca Eanes is the bestselling author of multiple books including Positive Parenting: An Essential Guide, The Positive Parenting Workbook, and The Gift of a Happy Mother. She is the grateful mom of two boys. 


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