How To Stop Your Child’s Whining

Whining, whimpering, moaning, snivelling – there’s no pretty word for when children go on and on in a high pitched voice, repeating the same complaint over and over. Whining may not be as dramatic as tantrums or as harmful as bullying and biting, but most parents find it much harder to deal with – probably because it wears you down…and really gets on your nerves…

Whiney children aren’t pleasant to be around – and whining adults are even worse! – so parents definitely want to try and nip it in the bud. The problem is that it’s usually difficult to pinpoint what is upsetting your child – and to find a solution that works long term, without getting into a whining-scolding-more whining cycle.

Nature or nurture?

Firstly, it’s important to realise that some children are simply disgruntled by nature, just like some adults have a sunnier disposition than others. If grumbling is in your little one’s genes, you know it’s nothing personal. You may also want to ask where your little one gets it from; perhaps you need to look at the way you handle negative situations and work on setting a good example.

Secondly, you need to recognise that there is always a reason behind whining and you need to address this cause, not just the whining. The parenting mindset that says that forcing children to deal with the harsh realities of life from an early age makes them stronger often does just the opposite; ignoring a child in a time of need can be very harmful, whereas responding calmly and positively can have amazing long-term positive effects on a child’s coping mechanisms. A toddler’s basic emotional needs include:

  • Security from calm, confident parents
  • Unconditional love
  • Respect for pre-programmed needs
  • Unconditional support from parents – especially when nobody else seems to understand them
  • Kind, loving touch
  • A gentle introduction to life

Troubleshooting techniques

Sister Lilian Centre’s techniques can help you to ensure that you are meeting your whiner’s needs, and hopefully do away with the whining:

  • Spend pockets of meaningful time with your whiner at regular intervals throughout the day; if your little one gets enough positive attention, there’s less need to go looking for negative attention
  • Reward non-whining behaviour – when your little one plays happily, laughs in delight or enjoys interaction with the world, join in enthusiastically
  • Skilfully use the art of distraction when you see whining behaviour building up; distractions involving animals, water, mud, or bubbles are usually very effective and should soon make whining the furthest thing from your little one’s mind

If these techniques don’t solve the problem (no shortcuts, Mom and Dad), and your tot still whines, the best approach is to ignore any whining behaviour. If you walk away every time the whining starts, your little one will soon realise that the whining isn’t getting the results it’s supposed to and will soon give up or try a different tack.