Whining is one of the most irritating things that young children do, and it can push any parent to their absolute breaking point. Kids whine for a variety of reasons: they could be tired, hungry, sick, frustrated, or looking for attention. If parents give in to whining (think, toy or candy bar at the store), then kids learn that whining gets them what they want. The key to overcoming this habit begins in the calm moments where we as parents can come up with a plan to address our children’s whining in positive, non-shaming ways.
With younger children, changing the subject can be very effective in stopping their whining. Sometimes all it takes is for you to ask them a completely unrelated question or bring up a favorite topic of theirs, and they move on with their day.
Say, “Use your strong voice.”
This is a nice alternative to saying “Don’t whine,” because it tells your kids what kind of voice you would like them to use. You can also say, “I will be ready to listen when you use your regular voice,” which reminds them that whining isn’t the way to get their needs met.
Acknowledge/name their feelings (I hear you…_).
Kids usually whine because they aren’t getting what they want, which can be very disappointing for them. Just a simple, “I hear how you really wanted ___” or “This is so frustrating/disappointing/upsetting” can help them know that we empathize with them.
Ask, “How can we solve this problem?”
This phrase acknowledges that they are having a problem that needs solving and encourages them to come up with some solutions on their own. By tapping in to the child’s problem-solving capabilities, you empower them to have some control over the situation.
Take a break.
Both kids and adults need a break sometimes, so feel free to step away from your kids if their whining is pushing you to your limits. You can say, “Mommy needs a break right now so I can feel calm.” This is an excellent way to model for your kids that it’s also ok for them to take a break and collect themselves.
Stand your ground when the answer is “no.”
Giving in to the whining may seem like the easy way to get it to stop, but this will make your child even more likely to do it in the future. When you say “no,” stand your ground, and try some other strategies to redirect the whining.
Reconnect with your child.
Whining is often no more than a bid for our attention, so spending some time together can help children feel reconnected with you. When a child’s love-bucket is full, they won’t have as much of a need to seek your attention through whining.
These simple strategies can help reduce the amount of whining in your home, give your children a sense of empowerment, and give you some peace. Leave a note in the comments and let me know what strategy you’re going to try!