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How to stop your child from whining

Author GreatDad Writers
Submitted 02-01-2011

The image of a ‘family day out’ with two kids whining on the backseat can seem like the epitome of family life. But as dads, we have all been there.

It would be wonderful if there was a magic cure to stop kids whining, but unfortunately most of them do at some stage. The good news is that it is a habit that can easily be broken with consistency and gentle encouragement.

First, it is important to understand why children do it. Kids whine for a very simple reason and that is to get their parent’s attention.
But whining is not a conscious strategy on their part, it is learned behavior and believe it or not moms and dads often play a part. If a child asks for something politely and the parent doesn’t respond straight away, the child will make it more difficult for their parent to ignore them.

While a toddler may throw a tantrum, an older child, who has more self-control, is more likely to whine. But don’t despair, there are a number of easy steps you can take to break your child’s habit.

  • If your child is continually whining it may be because he or she is ill or in pain. Sometimes it is difficult for kids to explain how they feel and they use whining as a way of telling you that something is wrong.
  • Parents should not wait until children are in distress before paying them attention. If you are on the phone or in the middle of something it is important to respond to your child. Stop what you are doing for a second. Make eye contact and tell your child firmly that you will be with them in a minute. Then give your child attention as soon as you can.
  • Lead by example. Say to your child, ‘I don’t like it when you whine.  If you want something, say it in your normal voice, like this’.
  • Mean what you say. Make sure that no means no and follow it up. If you bow to pressure from your child’s constant whining they will quickly identify it as an easy way of getting what they want.
  • Another great way to deal with whining is to pretend that you don’t understand what they have said. Say to your child, ‘I don’t understand you when you speak in that whining voice, if you speak in a normal voice like a big girl/boy then I can understand you’.
  • Finally, if your child continues to whine, have a go at whining back so they can hear how unpleasant it sounds. Whine at your child and say to them, ‘I am sure you don’t realize you are doing this but that is how you sound when you whine. Doesn’t it sound childish?’