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STOP the Whining!

whining ​Imagine a finely manicured hand with clear polish on the nails. Now, imagine those nails scraping slowly down a chalkboard. Hear it? That's the same sound most parents hear when their young child starts to whine.

Whining often accompanies or precedes tantrum behavior, but not always. Children whine for all kinds of reasons, usually because they are upset about something, or because, in the past, whining has helped them get something they wanted. They also are more likely to whine if they are sick or fatigued.

​Regardless, whining is annoying and unnecessary, which is something young children have yet to learn. The good news is that you can MANAGE whining fairly easily and effectively with your child by following these tips:whining

  • Point out to your child that he or she is whining. Sometimes children aren't even aware of this behavior.
  • Never give your child what he or she wants when he or she is whining. This will only lead to more whining when your child wants something in the future.
  • The best way to respond when your child is whining is to say you don't understand him or her. For example, say “I can't understand a word you are saying. You'll need to talk to me in a big girl (or big boy) voice."
  • Silence is golden. Ignoring whining until you hear your child use a tone of voice that is acceptable will send a message that whining has little payoff.
  • Don't model whining. Adults are just about as capable of whining as children. Do yourself and your child a favor by using appropriate behavior and language when you are frustrated.
  • Reward appropriate language. When your child uses an appropriate tone of voice, especially when asking for something or expressing a complaint, acknowledge and praise him or her. For example, say “Thank you for talking so clearly. It helps me understand what you want." This is especially true if your child used an appropriate voice first, without whining. Either way, it's important that your child understands that talking in an age-appropriate voice is beneficial to him or her, and will earn praise from you.
  • Distract or redirect. Sometimes, a simple distraction or redirection will be enough to get your child off the whining platform.
  • Time-Out. A good old-fashioned Time-Out is sometimes necessary when whining persists and all of your other efforts to stop it have not worked.

Additional Resources 

  • Help! There's a Toddler in the House! by Thomas M. Reimers, Ph.D.
  • I Brake For Meltdowns: How To Handle The Most Exasperating Behavior Of Your 2- To 5-Year-Old by Michelle Nicholasen and Barbara O'Neal
  • Parenting the Strong-Willed Child: The Clinically Proven Five-Week Program for Parents of Two- to Six-Year-Olds by Rex Forehand and Nicholas Long

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Kid Tips;Communication Skills



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