Inside this post: debunking why kids whine and what you can do to stop the whining in your home.
Do your children whine every time you have to be a parent and decline a request?
As parents, it is our responsibility to keep our children healthy and safe, and that means providing boundaries.
Children do not understand the reason behind these boundaries so when you say no to ice cream for breakfast, they whine and whine and try to get you to change your mind.
The only reason I know all about whining is that I’ve gone through it with my kids, and I have successfully been able to implement some strategies to decrease and often times end the whining altogether.
I’ve tried time outs, yelling, and taking things away and none of those negative discipline techniques actually worked.
When I learned WHY my children were whining, I was able to come up with some solutions, and today I’m going to share them with you.
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What Causes Whining
Generally, children whine because they want something and you’ve denied them that want.
And usually, the whining works, which is why children continue their whining.
An important thing to remember when we have whining children is that our kids are not out to make our lives miserable and irritating, they just want our attention.
By providing attention during a whining episode, we tell our kids that whining is a good way to get some of that attention that they want.
Here Are 5 Reasons Kids Whine
- They Need Your Help
Children get tired and even though they may be “old enough” to complete a task, they could still require some assistance. Sometimes they have a need that needs to be met such as hunger, rest, alone time, something to drink etc.
If your child is whining, ask yourself “Did this child get enough rest last night?” “Is there anything going on that could be causing overwhelm?” “When was the last time my child ate?”
Being able to answer these questions can help you address the whining.
- They Need Connection
Sometimes whining is a sign that children need more connection and one on one time.
- They Need To Express Feelings
Sometimes whining is a way for children to express disappointment and sadness. As parents, it is our job to “accept, acknowledge and support” kids and their feelings instead of “correcting, scolding, or controlling”.
- They Have A Sensitive Temperament
There are 3 types of temperament:
– Easy or flexible
– Active or feisty
– Slow to warm or cautious
Some children are just more prone to big reactions than others. They may have a harder time adjusting to certain situations and therefore have an increase in whining.
- They Know Past Consequences Haven’t Been Followed Through
If you’ve ever not followed through with consequences or have given in to whining behaviour at least once, chances are, your child believes you can give in again. Try to be consistent in your reactions to whining and this can help a lot.
Is Whining And Crying The Same Thing?
Sometimes whining and crying can be confusing to discern, especially for a first-time parent.
When children are crying they will have tears in their eyes and whining is more of an obnoxious sound children make without any tears present.
When I was a first-time mom, some of the resources I had at my disposal referred to children crying for attention, and I later learned they meant WHINING, not CRYING. Usually, a crying child is in need of something more than attention such a need to be met.
Discipline Can Backfire
If your child is old enough to indicate a need for food or a dislike for sitting in a carseat, they may whine because based on past experience they know you’ll pay attention to their whine.
According to psychologist Carolyn Crowder, Ph.D. , whining can make children feel powerful, especially during the ages 3 and 4. This information is derived from this great paperback book.
Scolding your child can actually reinforce the whining behaviour because when children whine they are looking for a response. Scolding is a form of response and is ineffective.
When children are not sure of how to get a positive response, they will go for a negative response. So the trick is to not get upset by your child’s whining, and your child will stop the whining.
After I figured out this major piece of the puzzle, I was able to get the whining in our home under control.
How To Stop Whining In Children
Make It Not Work
Because the main reason that children whine is that it works, make it so that it doesn’t work.
If you remove the result that they are expecting, they will have no reason to try the whining gig again.
If you’re out and about and you have to say no to a treat at the register, calmly proceed with your transaction and let your child whine it out. Do not give in to the treat and calmly proceed to the car to let your child continue their whining or tantrum. This will teach your child that whining doesn’t work so it’s no use trying.
Don’t Pay Attention
Refuse to give attention to this display of whining. Any kind of attention.
Provide Positive Attention Often
By providing plenty of positive attention often, your child will be able to realize that positive attention is so much better than negative attention.
It’s a great idea to spend 10 minutes a day with your child to create deep connections. You can cuddle on the couch and start a tickle war, have a game of hoops in the backyard or bake some muffins together. These are super simple ways to connect with your child daily.
You can use these strategies to keep the whining to a minimum in your home too. Just remember that sometimes these frustrating behaviours will pop up over and over again and you’ll just have to be diligent and consistent with your strategies.
If you’re struggling with other behaviour challenges like sibling fighting, backtalk, homework issues, technology battles, mealtime or morning chaos, Check out this step-by-step road map for parenting toddlers to teens.