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When kids whine

Sometimes the best parenting advice comes from others in the same boat. SheKnows welcomes Ann Silberman, mother of two and stepmother of two, who shares some advice to get you through the trials of motherhood.

Your question

I have a 5 year old daughter who just started kindergarten this fall. She is a very bright child, with excellent communication skills. However, she has taken to whining when things do not go her way. We never give in to whining, so this type of behavior is not at all being encouraged. When she does this, we send her to her room and have her stay there till she gets control of herself. Despite all our efforts, she continues whining. What are we doing wrong? What should we try instead? — Sick of the sound

Ann answers

Whining is an attention-getting behavior. Whatever you do, you must not acknowledge this tone of voice, because it only reinforces her use of it. Even negative attention — being sent to her room — accomplishes her goal of having you listen to her. Instead of demonstrating that this tone of voice is something that you will pay attention to, I’d suggest you ignore it completely. Once the whining starts, pretend like you don’t hear her, and cannot understand her. You can either ignore her completely until she stops, or look at her blankly and say “What? I can’t understand you, what did you say?” Don’t acknowledge her until she uses a normal tone of voice, and then you can continue whatever discussion precipitated the whining. If you and your husband do this consistently, she’ll learn that only reasonable tones work, and the whining should stop.

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