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The Whys of Whining

“Buutttttt muuuuuuuuuuuuuuum!”

It’s irritating, it’s frustrating, it gets on your last nerve and frankly, it can make your spine vibrate. There few parents that would argue with the fact that their child’s whining its obnoxious and unacceptable. “I just love it when little Suzie whines!”….said no parent, ever. As annoying as it may be, whining is actually an effective way for your child to get your attention. Like other bad habits, parents can nip it in the bud early with a few simple strategies that teach kids that there are other appropriate, effective forms of communicating their needs and wants.

First, try limiting the situations that trigger it. Avoid extra errands when the kids are hungry and don’t let them get involved in a frustrating game or project prior to bedtime. Pay attention when your child is talking, as sometimes whining is a reaction when a child feels you aren’t giving them your full attention.

Praise them for not whining and instead talking in a normal and understandable voice that allows you to fully understand what they are saying to you.

When the whining begins, don’t overreact. Keep your response simple, calm and neutral. Ask your child to repeat the request in a normal tone and give them a chance for a “do over.” When giving in seems inevitable, don’t delay. If you are hurrying to finish the grocery shopping and your child starts whining for a snack, offer something healthy right away.

Once a limit has been set, parents should follow through. It’s imperative that both parents are on board with this limit and fully follow through when the whining rule has been violated. If you have an older child that’s developing a whining habit, suggest they come up with a solution to their perceived boredom or other voiced problem. Keep in mind that there may be bigger problems lurking. Sometimes whining can be the result of trauma and trouble in their life such as divorce, serious family illness or problems at school. Additional positive attention and quality one-on-one time may be just the medicine your child needs at a time like this. Have lots of patience during these trying times, and give lots of love.


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