With two kids under the age of 5, there are evenings when I’m mentally counting the moments until bedtime brings an end to the whining.

Tips for curbing your child's whining

The whining isn’t working for any of us — it’s driving me mad, and it’s a bad habit for them to resort to whining to communicate their needs.

I reached out to pediatrician Melissa Arca to see if she could explain the why behind the whining.

Why they do it

"Children notice that we respond to whining, and even if it's negative attention, they'll take it."

Dr. Arca explained, “Whining is often the gateway to a tantrum and/or your child's way of not melting down into a complete tantrum mess! So, in some ways, that whining is better than the alternative. Many toddlers and preschoolers often kick up the whining just before they're about to tackle a new cognitive or social milestone (language, negotiating with peers, sharing, etc). They are often at a loss for words when the world seems a little overwhelming to them. In addition, just like tantrums, whining is more common in children who are tired, hungry or who have had a long day. And, like anything, whining can become a habit. Children notice that we respond to whining, and even if it's negative attention, they'll take it.”

Learn more about avoiding power struggles and parenting without bribes or threats >> 

This explains why for so many of us, whining is at its peak in the evening. When I’m rushing around, trying to finish dinner, run a load of laundry and pick up after a long day, I’m not necessarily as available to them as they need for me to be.

Read one mom’s whining mantra >>

How to make it stop

While it helps to know the reasons why kids whine, it’s also important to know how to minimize it so we can stay sane.

  • Try to recognize the warning signs before the whining begins. Make extra effort to hear what your children are trying to communicate before they go into full whine mode.
  • Stay calm and refuse to let your children see the whining bothers you.
  • Be sure they know what you mean by whining. Either record their whining or show them what whining sounds like. You might make them laugh, and you’ll get your point across in the process.
  • Offer positive reinforcement when your child calmly communicates his or her needs without whining. A simple, “I love the way you asked me that with your big girl voice,” will reinforce the desired behavior.

Most importantly, be consistent. Once your child realizes whining will not work, they’re less likely to try this tactic.

Armed with the knowledge that whining is a part of normal childhood development and some tactics on how to handle it, you should be able to minimize the whining, at the very least.

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Comments on "Winning against whining"

SherrillCannon March 22, 2012 | 1:13 PM

Another hint from a former teacher and grandmother of nine – help stop whining in a fun way! Frequently it helps for children to be read fun-stories that illustrate the unpleasantness of bad behavior and ways to correct it. For instance, sometimes children don’t understand how annoying the sound of whining can be. "Peter and the Whimper-Whineys" is a story of a little rabbit who does nothing but whine. This rhyming book should be read with alternating normal voice and whining voice, according to the character speaking. Children learn that Whimper-Whineyland is not a fun place to be, not just for all the whining and crying that goes on but for all the other bad behavior and unpleasant character traits exemplified!!! My three year old grandson loves the book, and repeats “no more whining, no more crying!” I hope that this book might help your child as well as it has helped my children and grandchildren

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