While I have always prided myself on my patience with little ones, I admit I fail miserably at being accepting when they whine. One of my own children whined as a toddler, and I’ve taught a few whiney kids throughout the years. I’ve learned some great tips on how to stop your child from the annoying habit of whining.
1. Never accept what they say in whine-language. When your child whines, tell her that you do not understand whine language, and she needs to say it again in a big girl voice.
2. Wait until the child is in a happy moment to have a real conversation about why she must stop whining. Typically a child whines when she is upset about something. Maybe she felt slighted by another child, maybe she really wants your attention or a toy, and she feels that she must whine to get what she wants. In those moments, she won’t be thinking rationally when you speak to her, because she is too focused on her needs at that moment. Wait until she has moved on from that episode and is happy. Then explain to her that babies whine, big girls do not, and if she wants to be treated like a big girl, she will have to speak like one.
3. Use positive reinforcement. In my experience, children always react more favorably through praise than they do with threats and punishments. Certainly a whining child can make you want to threaten her, but take a deep breath and think about the long run. Instead, remind her that you will not listen to her until she uses a big girl voice. Then, throughout the day, when she is speaking normally, praise her on acting like such a big girl.
4. Find incentives to keep her behavior positive. Create a sticker chart and if she makes it through a certain time frame without whining, give her a sticker. That time frame will depend on how often she whines. If it’s constant, your time frame must start off short, maybe from breakfast to lunch. If she refrains from whining in those few hours, you will give her a sticker. You can gradually increase that amount of time. When she reaches 10 stickers, give her a treat of some kind. That might be a small toy, a visit to the ice cream parlor, a trip to her favorite playground, etc.
MY CHORES ~ 25 Weekly Chart Forms & 175 Stickers
5. Point out the fact that other children, siblings, classmates, or friends, do not whine. Remind your child that her family members and peers are able to speak without whining, so she can too.
6. Be consistent. There might be times when your child’s whining doesn’t bother you as much, or you are embarrassed to discuss it in front of other people. Yet, children need consistency to understand that you mean what you say. If you pick and choose when her whining is allowed, and when it is not, she won’t understand the difference.
7. Encourage your child to save her tears for something important. Oftentimes, whining is accompanied by tears. Most of the time the child is crying over something trivial, like arguing over a toy, or wanting to go first. In those cases, once the child has calmed down, remind her that there is no reason for her to cry over something like that. She should save her tears for when she is hurt.
8. Try to figure out what triggers the whining. Many times, a child starts to whine when she is over-tired. In that case, try to move her nap time a little earlier, before this behavior begins. You might find that simply giving her rest earlier will stop her whining altogether.