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Whiny Kids and What You Can do About It!

whining child

Whining is a successful strategy for kids when they are rewarded for their efforts. The first question to ask yourself is, "Does my child get what he wants when he whines?"

Keep a written record of the events surrounding his whining so you know how to better tackle the problem. Take note of when he is whining, why he is whining, and what happens as a result of his whining. Ask yourself some questions. Is his whining brought on by hunger or exhaustion? Does his whining happen at the same time every day? How do we act when he whines? What rewards does he get by whining?

Whining can begin when a child is sleepy or hungry. Take some preventative measures to make sure that your child's needs are met before the whining begins. Does she need to eat a small snack between meals or go to bed earlier? Examine your written record to see if there are any patterns in the whiny behavior that tie it into hunger or sleep needs. Then, address those needs and see if the behavior changes.

Whining can also be an attempt to get attention. Have you been busier than usual? Does your child need some extra attention right now? Have there been any changes in the family that would cause him to feel left out? If this is the case, make some special one on one time for a favorite activity. When kids feel that they need attention, they will get it any way they can-negatively or positively!

Next, take a look at your own behavior. When your child whines, how do you handle it? Do you calmly state your expectations or do you become drawn into the moment and argue with your child? Many kids learn whining from their parents. That's right! We often whine back and reply with statements like, "Stop whining-I hate it when you whine!" Then, we may give in to our kid's demands just to stop the awful whining behavior.

If you feel like you are drawn into the whining behavior, you need to work on your response to your child. Keep the tone of your voice calm and your expectations clear and to the point. In reality, your child may have a reasonable request. The problem is the way in which he is addressing you. So, you might say something like, "Why don't you go to your room and practice asking without whining. Then you can come back and try again." The point is to let your child know that you won't address his needs when he asks in a whiny tone of voice. If your child is pretty young, let's say age 4-6, then you might repeat his request back to him in a calm voice and prompt him with, "Let's try that again without whining."

Most importantly, realize that changing behavior takes time. Be patient and calm when dealing with your child. Don't forget to catch her being good. Sometimes, rewarding a child's positive behavior will be enough to make change happen. Give positive feedback when she uses words without whining. You might say, "Boy, I like how you asked for that without whining!" For more positive phrases, take a look at our page on 75 Ways to Say Good Job.