Tips & Resources

How to Win the War on Whining:

When you say no to your child or don’t give him what he wants, many children--particularly preschoolers--try to wear you down by whining. And when they do, it’s almost impossible not to become annoyed and frustrated. Whining is heavy-duty irritation, akin to chalk scratching on a blackboard or a baby’s non-stop crying. But there are strategies parents can use, rather than giving in or getting furious.

Here’s what NOT to do if you already have a child who is earning an advanced degree in whining. Don’t change your no into a yes. Don’t try to explain or justify your reasons for refusing to grant your child’s wish. Beware. If your child has even the merest hope that the more he whines, the more chance there is that you’ll give in, he will up the ante and whine more.

Instead, help your child to learn alternative, more positive ways to ask for what she wants. During a calm, pleasant moment when you have your child’s attention, ask her if she knows how to ask for something in her whining voice and have her show you how she does this. Then say something like: "Yes, that is exactly the way it sounds when you ask for something in your ‘whine’ voice. Now let’s practice your asking me for something in your ‘regular’ voice (or your ‘Suzy’ voice or your ‘big girl’ voice)." Compliment her when she uses that normal voice. The next time she starts to whine, instead of repeatedly telling her to "stop whining", ask her to use her regular voice. If you do this consistently, chances are you will be on the way to curing the whining habit.

Often kids who whine a lot have gotten into the habit of using that grating tone and aren’t even aware of it. One parent in my workshop, as soon as her son began his usual whine, ran to get the tape recorder so he could hear it. Not only did it make them both laugh, it helped him to become more conscious of how he sounded.

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