Even the most delightful child whines once in a while. If you have two very close in age like mine (13 months apart), they’ll even throw in whining competitions once in a while… because you know, if you are going to whine, you might as well show your parents that you’re be the best whiner!
But for parents, even if some whining can’t be helped, it’s one of the habits we’d prefer our kids grow out of sooner, rather than later. Here are a few common causes of whining and strategies you can use to help your kids eliminate whining.
If you, like me, would
- Your child doesn’t feel acknowledged by you and is looking for attention.
- Your child is hungry, tired or worn out.
- Your child has made whining a habit. This tends to happen if they get what they want the first few times they try it out.
- Your child is frustrated – they don’t have the words they need to express how they feel, so they revert to whining.
1. Acknowledge your child when they first try to communicate. Children often use whining as a backup when they’re being ignored in order to get your attention. By acknowledging them the first time (even if it’s to say that they need to wait a minute and then you’ll talk to them), they’re less likely to start whining.
2. Remember that if your child is whining, they are expressing something that is important to them, even if it seems petty to you. While you might not respond the way they want you to, it’s important to listen to them and show that you understand how they feel about the situation.
3. Imitate your child’s whining. If your child is like mine, they’ll break into hysterical laughter, or at least a huge grin. This is one way of showing them, without getting angry at them, that 1) they’re not going to get anything by whining and 2) they sound pretty silly.
4. Whining often says more about your child’s feelings than about reality. What emotional need might be causing your child to whine? Responding to the underlying need is more likely to help your child stop whining than responding to the situation itself. Read Win-Win Discipline for Parents for more information about underlying needs.
5. Give your child the words to express how they feel or ask for what they want. Focus on making sure effective communication is flowing between the two of you, to mitigate the need for whining. Looking for tips? Read Effective Communication: 14 Tips and Tricks
6. If you’re working with your child on not whining, praise or reward them when they succeed at expressing themselves appropriately in a situation they would otherwise whine in.