Every kid seems to go through a whining phase, and whining is one of those things that is hard to tune out. Whining can quickly wear down even the most patient of parents.
We often snap at kids and demand, “Stop whining!”
How to Get Your Child to Stop Whining
But guess what? You can’t make them stop. Just like eating, sleeping, and pooping, it’s one of those things that you have no control over. What you do have control over is yourself and how you respond. And there are things that you can do to help your kids begin to whine less and save some of your sanity.
1. Don’t label whining.
Saying, “You’re such a whiner!” or even “Stop being a whiner,” does little to help kids stop whining and instead makes it something that gets them extra attention.
There’s no need to pay extra attention to whining by calling your child a whiner or talking about it within their earshot. Labels often have the effect of becoming a self-fulfilling prophesy and bringing out more of the behavior.
If you need to talk about how much it frustrates you, do it well out of the earshot of your kids. We all need to vent sometimes, and that’s just fine.
2. Stay calm.
Take a moment to manage your feelings when your child starts whining. Take a few deep breaths and respond to your child only when you feel cool, calm, and collected.
Whining can be triggering, and it’s easy to snap at kids out of frustration or anger. Reframe those challenging moments as learning opportunities for you and your kids. Know that your kids are communicating a need. They’re learning, growing, and developing. Changing your perspective can give you the patience and understanding to respond calmly.
Staying calm will keep you from losing your cool and threatening punishments. Punishments are never an effective way to handle less-than-desirable behavior. It’s important to always look for solutions to help kids succeed.
Blowing up and yelling at kids when they whine also shows them that it’s another way to get a big reaction out of us and might make them whine more often.
3. Model the language you’d like your kids to use.
Modeling teaches kids how you’d like them to talk. They’re given the tone and words to express their needs. This is the skill that they need to communicate effectively. You can use this tactic even with preverbal kids. Babies and toddlers are hearing and absorbing the language that we use.
You can say, “It sounds like you’re trying to say….”
- “It sounds like you’re trying to say, ‘I’d like a snack, please, mama.'”
- “It sounds like you’re trying to say, “Can I have a turn with the train?”
There is no need to force kids to repeat the sentence. If they’re in a whining phase, simply hearing your response will impact them. Attempting to force them to repeat the sentence is a great way to invite a power struggle.
Slowly, kids will pick up on this language and self-correct when they start to whine out a request.
4. Avoid phrases like “Use your big kid voice” and “Use your words!”
Phrases like this don’t give kids the words to use and invite kids to say, “No!” It’s best to model the sentence you would like kids to use. You are then reminding them of those words.
5. Take notes.
Notice when your kids are whining and make a mental or physical note to see if there are any patterns. Do you notice whining when your kids are tired, hungry, frustrated, or looking for your attention?
Whining is a form of communication and a way of expressing a need. This information can help you to proactively minimize whining by addressing the need behind the whining. If you make a connection between whining and sleep, for example, begin working to improve your child’s sleep.
Maybe you won’t find a pattern, and that’s perfectly normal too. Utilize the other strategies to help address whining.
6. Be patient.
Yes, whining might be just about the most annoying thing ever, but your kids will grow out of it when treated respectfully and given alternative communication skills. Your kids will make it to the other side and become effective and respectful communicators. You can make it through this phase!
Final Thoughts on Whining
Learning new skills and changing the language you use with your kids will take some time. But your kids will give you lots of opportunities to practice!
How will you respond when your child starts whining today?