How to put an end to your child’s whining

While most toddlers outgrow whining by the time they reach first or second grade, for others the habit can persist even longer.

 Wondering how to stop your child’s whining? Read on…

Most children whine at some point, but you can teach your children to stop whining and instead reinforce a positive behaviour pattern.

The sound of whining is one of the most aggravating sounds to a parent’s ears, especially when you’re trying to relax on a Sunday afternoon after a busy work week! To us, it’s not just the tone of the voice that’s torturous, but the repetition as well.

Why do children whine?

Whining generally starts when children are toddlers and it is often a natural response to the overwhelming feeling of being out of control. Your child might have had a particularly busy day or be feeling tired or hungry. They also don’t have the vocabulary to express themselves and their frustrations fully, so they resort to whining. Children also tend to build up emotions and let them out in different ways. Unfortunately whining is one of them. Your child may not even realise that they are whining.

Call their attention to the behaviour by demonstrating what they sound like. You can record their voice and play it back to them or you can mimic them and let them hear how it sounds. Diet and behaviour are often connected and sugar can definitely affect your child.

Sweets, soft drinks, and other packaged foods are sometimes packed with sugar and you can exceed your child’s tolerance for it. Once the sugar high is gone, the low then comes. And with the low comes whining. Pay attention to your child’s eating habits, and make connections to their behaviour. Perhaps some simple changes will make all the difference. Plus, whining is generally effective and often works so they continue with the behaviour.

Get to the root of whining

Spend time listening to your children and getting to the bottom of what they really want. Is it your time and attention? Spend some focused time together reading or cooking, or doing something else your child enjoys. Connecting in this way can make a huge difference for your family. Ask your child to repeat their message without whining.

Tell them you can’t understand when they whine and to speak in a normal voice. Ignore them until they comply. Try to remain patient and don’t get angry as this can often make things worse. To reinforce proper behaviour, tell the children when they’ve done a great job and that you are glad they are using their words properly. It makes them want to continue the good behaviour. You could try and call the whining something else, like the ‘moaning minny’.

So when your child whines you can say “Oh no, it sounds like moaning minny is back, let’s try and get rid of her!” – this might also lead to a laugh or giggle which is also a good distraction.

Reinforce positive behaviour with consistency

Explain how whining makes you feel and discuss acceptable ways that they can express themselves the next time they feel like whining. Keep it friendly and don’t bring up problems from the past. Talk about solutions for the future. Try to be consistent in your message that you pass on and let them understand that whining is unacceptable behaviour in your family and will never get them what they want. The more you give in to the whining, the more your child will use it against you.

Remember that respect works both ways 

Listen and speak to your child respectfully and then ask them to treat you the same way. Whining also becomes much less frequent as children get older so remember that ‘This too shall pass’.