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How to Get Your Kids to Stop Whining All the Time

How to Get Your Kids to Stop Whining All the Time

Whining children are not enjoyable to be around. The sound of incessant whining can be like fingernails on a chalkboard. Nobody wants to listen to whining. There are solutions to help stop the whining. Below are my top 8 tips to get the whining to stop.

1. Address the Issue

To get a child to stop habitually whining, you first need to address the issue with the child.

There are some children who aren’t even aware that they are whining. In their little minds, they are simply voicing their opinions, concerns, and complaints. They don’t realize that tone and delivery matter significantly in communication. You need to talk to them about what whining is and how it affects you.

When you address the issue with the child, ensure that they understand for their age. A two-year-old and a seven-year-old have very different levels of comprehension. Speak to each child on their level. Use words that they will understand.

For example, in talking to your two-year-old, you can sit down on the floor so that you are at their eye level. Explain that whining is not a good behavior and that you are going to enforce consequences. “You are such a good girl, but when you whine that is not good girl behavior. From now on, you will get time out when you whine. If you want to tell me something use your big girl voice without whining and I will listen.”

When you communicate clearly and on their level, they can better understand that their whining needs to stop. Getting them to understand that their whining is a real problem is the first step.

2. Zero Tolerance for Whining

You need to set a standard in your home with whining. It is not allowed in our home. Does that mean it never happens? No, of course it still happens, my children are human and are not perfect. They whine, but when whining occurs, there are consequences.

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They know that if they whine, they will either get a timeout immediately, or they lose check marks from their chart. We use reward charts in our home. Our children earn check marks for positive behaviors and completing chores. When they complete a 50 box check mark chart, they get to cash it in for a toy or something else that they have been wanting. They can get check marks taken away for misbehavior. Whining, especially in public, can result in check marks being taken away.

It is hard to give a child a timeout when you are at the grocery store or out running errands. Taking away check marks is saved for those situations when a timeout is not feasible. My kids take their check marks seriously, because they are hard-earned. With a threat to take away a check mark, usually their behavior changes immediately.

Yes, bribery can be good parenting sometimes.[1]

Whatever methods of reward and consequence that you may have in your home, it must also apply to whining. You can provide a reward for an entire day without whining. Having consequences that occur when whining happens is what will help change the behavior as well. If you only have empty threats by warning them eight times that “if you don’t stop whining, you are going to timeout” is not effective.

The key to getting the behavior to change is having consequences. You ask them only once to stop and provide a consequence in your request. For example, if my son Charlie is whining, I will say something along these lines: “If you don’t stop whining right now, then you are going to get a 5 minute timeout. If you have something to say, please use your big boy voice and say it to me nicely.” They know that I won’t ask a second time. If they whine again, they immediately go to timeout.

3. Enforce Consequences for Whining Using a One Ask Approach

My kids don’t fight with me about going to timeout. They know if they argue or continue whining, then there are consequences for that behavior. That consequence is increased time in their timeout. I usually start with a three-minute or five-minute timeout. If they complain or continue to whine, my response is “one more whine or complaint and it goes to ten-minutes”. It isn’t just an idle threat either. They know I will follow through.

If the complaints continue, time will continue to be added to their time-out. If we make it all the way to a thirty minute timeout, I will send them to their room and they can lay down for a nap for that thirty minutes. It doesn’t often get to that point, but they know that it is possible, because they have all had those thirty-minute timeouts that mean they go to lay down in their room.

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Your ability to get their behavior to stop immediately is tied directly to your enforcement of the ask. If you ask them to do something, you must have a consequence tied to that request. When they don’t do as asked, then you immediately follow through with the consequence. This is enforcing a “one-ask approach.” When you keep asking them repeatedly to stop whining and you don’t have it tied to a consequence, they will keep whining. They don’t have an incentive to change.

You must ask once for them to stop the whining and have it tied to a consequence if they don’t stop. You must enforce the consequence immediately if they continue to whine after that first warning. This is using the one-ask approach.[2]

4. Provide Them with Communication Tools

Some children whine because they don’t have the right tools to communicate. This is especially true for young children who have not developed good communication skills.

A child who is under the age of two may be whining “mommy” all the time when they want milk, or help putting on their shoes, or they want a toy off a high shelf. Teach them the words and how to ask for those things. For example, using a nice tone say to them “you can ask for milk by saying “mommy, milk please”. Have them copy your tone. If they don’t use the same tone, then repeat the tone and phrase more exaggerated in a sweet voice so they better understand.

Providing children with the right tools for communication by teaching them the words to use is helpful in minimizing whining. You must also teach them about tone of voice at the same time. Because the right words are not helpful if they are being whined. Teach the child tone of voice by providing an example to them. Show them with your own voice how to ask nicely.

5. Be a Model of No Whining Allowed

Children are always paying attention to their parent’s behavior. Their parents and caregivers are their role models. This makes it very important for parents and caregivers to model good behavior.

If you are whining and your child witnesses you doing this on a regular basis, then they will learn to do the same behavior. If you model good communication skills and making requests using a pleasant and civil voice, then they will learn to do that instead of whining.

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6. Praise Them for Changing Their Behavior

If you have a child who is a habitual whiner, then you need to focus on their positive behavior. Using the consequences for the whining is helpful and still applies, but you don’t want your child to feel defeated.

You can help make the situation positive by praising their good behavior. This means when they whine and you ask them to stop and they in turn, stop the whining and ask you again in a nice voice, you respond with praise.

The following is an example: “You did such a good job saying that like a big girl and you changed the way you said that to me. Thank you for saying that to me so nicely, I will get you that glass of milk you asked for.”

Praise reinforces their good behavior. The positive feedback from a parent is greatly desired from a child. Be sure to praise your child when they change their whining into a good tone of voice and good communication skills.

7. Let Them Know What Whining Sounds Like

Some children don’t realize how annoying and irritating whining can be. They don’t know what it really sounds like coming from someone else. If they are in the habit of whining, then show them what it sounds like.

Don’t do it when you are in the middle of one of their whining episodes. Wait until things are calmed and you can have a one-on-one heart to heart chat with them in a sincere manner.

Don’t mock them. Instead, you can say something along these lines: “When you whine, it sounds like this….(fill in with an example of a recent whine)…and it makes me not want to listen to you. I need you to work on using your big girl voice by asking like this….” Then, follow it up by converting the whining statement into a nicely said statement using a good tone of voice.

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Providing them with an example and allowing them to hear what they sound like to you helps them to better understand how annoying and irritating whining can be.

8. Assess What the Whine is Really Saying

Some children whine because they are overtired or they are seeking attention. If whining occurs and it is not your child’s typical behavior, then you may need to assess why they are whining.

My son Alex is typically not a whiner. When he begins to whine, we now recognize that it is because he is really tired and needs a nap or needs to go to bed for the night. If we put him in timeout for whining, it seems that his behavior becomes worse because he is overtired. The solution is to get him down for a nap, or put him to bed. In this situation, we don’t give a timeout. Instead, we focus on the task at hand, which is getting our overtired child put into his bed for some much needed sleep.

If your child is whining because they are in need of attention, then take the time to give them the attention that they are craving. They are only little once. A few minutes of your undivided attention can make all the difference in the world to your child.

It’s Up to You as the Parent to Make Change Happen

Children will naturally whine. It is part of development. For younger children, especially toddlers, the tendency for whining is more likely because they lack good communication skills. It is up to parents to correct the behavior by showing children the right ways to communicate.

If the behavior persists, then parents and caregivers should use a reward or consequence system consistently to change the behavior.

Whining doesn’t need to be a part of your home life. You can set the standard first by your own example of not whining and secondly, by having a system in place for handling whining when it does occur.

More About Communication with Children

Featured photo credit: Simon Rae via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Dr. Magdalena Battles

A Doctor of Psychology with specialties include children, family relationships, domestic violence, and sexual assault

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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