Few things are more irritating to a parent’s ears than the sound of whining. It’s not just the tone of the voice but the repetition that is torture to us. Most kids whine at some time or another but you can break the whining habit and reinforce positive behaviour pattern in your kids.
Why do they do it?
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 feeling tired or hungry. They also don’t have the vocabulary to fully express themselves and their frustrations 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 drink 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.
Stop the 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 the 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 and 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.
Talk to your kids. 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 and 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.
Respect works both ways. Listen and speak to your child respectfully and then ask them to treat you the same. Whining also becomes much less frequent as children get older so remember that “this too shall pass”.