The first step to knowing how to stop children from whining is to understand why they do so in the first place: to get attention.
Through time, they’ve discovered that those shrilly voices are something mom, dad or nanny can’t ignore; and so they learn it is an effective communication tool.
But why do they want attention?
For preschoolers, it could be because:
- They have a low tolerance for frustration
- They may be experiencing big changes, going to uncharted territory such as attending school (not to mention being left there by mom or dad), welcoming a new sibling or coping with mommy returning to work
- They don’t get what they want
For school-age kids, it could be because:
- They are bored
- They refuse to do what is asked
The parent’s role
A parent’s reaction plays a big role in how to stop children from whining since she has the power to either encourage it or stop it.
You encourage the behavior when you respond angrily just to hush your child. Because the child sees his behavior elicits a response, he is then likely to repeat.
However, if you respond the right way, especially to offer a better (and less irritating) manner of communication, then your child will drop the whining.
In relation to this, a crucial start on how to stop children from whining is that parents must remember that a child doesn’t whine to purposely annoy; rather, it is a cry for help.
If a child continues to whine, even after employing suggested methods recommended in this article, then you must reflect on the following:
- Have I been busier than usual lately that I haven’t spent quality time with my child?
- Have I been attending to one sibling more than the other?
- Is my child struggling with something (usually a big change)? How can help?
- Am I consistent with using techniques on how to stop children from whining?
Whining, as mentioned earlier, is a cry for help. So giving children undivided attention daily should give them the attention they seek for in the first place.
Also, doing simple activities that your child loves is enough to give him the quality time he deserves. Here are some examples: reading stories (make this a daily habit), doing age-appropriate chores (washing dishes, separating whites and colored clothes for laundry), cooking, playing sports such as swimming, playing board games, or anything that you can bond over.
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How to stop children from whining
As they say, prevention is the best cure. Because you know how your child behaves and reacts, preempt him instead of leaving frustration to run its course. If you’re on a call and you see that your child needs you, signal to him that you’ll be with him right after before he gets fussy.
When it happens
It isn’t recommended to ignore a whining child in the hopes of discouraging the behavior. Ask any parent and they’ll agree that a child who is determined will have the energy to wail until mom or dad caves in.
Here’s what you can do:
1. Explain why whining doesn’t work
The best thing to do is explain why it doesn’t work and how it affects you. You can say:
- “I can’t understand what you want or how you feel when you talk that way.”
- “Whining hurts my ear’s so I can’t properly hear what it is you want.”
Then, teach him a better way to make requests by giving a concrete example, even letting him know the correct tone to use. You can say:
- “Next time, you can say this instead: Excuse me, mommy, I want to eat cookies now.”
- “Mommy, I want to play with the toy car but kuya doesn’t want to share.”
- “May I go out and play with the neighbor?”
Emphasize the difference between the two methods of communication. You can also imitate his whining to allow him to hear how he actually sounds.
Also, don’t expect your child to turn over a new leaf right after one session of correcting him. Be prepared to remind him to drop the whining habit over and over again.
Continue reading for 3 more tips on how to stop children from whining
2. Validate his feelings
Get to the bottom of things, validate his feelings, then propose a solution.
Is your child having a whining fit because he wants out of, say, grocery shopping with you?
The first thing you should do is confirm your suspicions by asking him what the matter is. Then tell him you know and understand how he feels–be specific here, there is no room to be vague with children.
You might say: “I know you are bored here with me in the grocery. I’m sorry about that.” Then propose a solution by designating him to be your helper. Getting items from the shelves and depositing them into the cart will keep him distracted enough to forget about the reason he was whining in the first place.
Make a further assessment of the situation as well. Does he seem tired or hungry? If so, it might be best to schedule a more regular nap time or snack time to prevent further episodes of mewling.
For older kids, is your child itching to go to the neighbor’s house because he has no one to play with all day? If so, this should prompt you to spend more time with him and schedule more play dates with his friends.
3. Train him to make proper requests
Ask your child to repeat your proposed method of saying things. If not, avoid punishing him by, say, taking away what he wants completely. This just adds to him feeling powerless. Instead, make a deal: he’ll only get what he wants without whining.
Be firm with your deal, do not be angry with your child and avoid pressuring him to hold the end of his bargain up. It may take hours before he caves in, but at least it’ll be worth it.
Continue reading to learn other tips on how to stop children from whining
4. Encourage positive behavior
When you catch your child making a request the proper way, let him know immediately. You may say, “Wow. That’s the sweetest way anyone’s ever asked me for a cookie. That’s the right way to ask for things! Thank you.”
Do this even if you decline his request, and do so stating it positively: “You can have a cookie tomorrow after breakfast, okay? It’s late already and the sugar may keep you up tonight.”
Make light of the situation. Say, “Hey, did you hear something–that whining noise? Sounds like it is coming from you. But it can’t be because you know not to whine when you are asking for something. I’m sure you’d say please and ask in a normal voice, so there must be a baby hippo or a puppy in your shirt pocket. Let’s find it.”
Stay calm. Avoid being negative by saying “stop whining” or showing non-verbal reactions as these add fuel to the fire.
Teach your child to be self-sufficient so there are fewer episodes of him feeling stressed. For example, fill his tumbler with water and place it in a part of the refrigerator he can easily reach. This way, if you’re busy with his younger sibling and he needs a drink, he can get one by himself.
Use other techniques for older kids such as sending them to a room where they can whine. This way, they can get it out of their system without you having to hear every word. You can also ask your child to drop five pesos in a “whine jar” each time he starts whining.
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