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Last Updated on July 12, 2019

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 September 12, 2019

12 Things You Should Remember When Feeling Lost in Life

12 Things You Should Remember When Feeling Lost in Life

Even the most charismatic people you know, whether in person or celebrities of some sort, experience days where they feel lost in life and isolated from everyone else.

While it’s good to know we aren’t alone in this feeling, the question still remains:

What should we do when we feel lost and lonely?

Here are 12 things to remember:

1. Recognize That It’s Okay!

The truth is, there are times you need to be alone. If you’ve always been accustomed to being in contact with people, this may prove difficult.

However, learning how to be alone and comfortable in your own skin will give you confidence and a sense of self reliance.

We cheat ourselves out of the opportunity to become self reliant when we look for constant companionship.

Learn how to embrace your me time: What Your Fear of Being Alone Is Really About and How to Get over It

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2. Use Your Lost and Loneliness as a Self-Directing Guide

You’ve most likely heard the expression: “You have to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going.”

Loneliness also serves as a life signal to indicate you’re in search of something. It’s when we’re in the midst of solitude that answers come from true soul searching.

Remember, there is more to life than what you’re feeling.

3. Realize Loneliness Helps You Face the Truth

Being in the constant company of others, although comforting sometimes, can often serve as a distraction when we need to face the reality of a situation.

Solitude cuts straight to the chase and forces you to deal with the problem at hand. See it as a blessing that can serve as a catalyst to set things right!

4. Be Aware That You Have More Control Than You Think

Typically, when we see ourselves as being lost or lonely, it gives us an excuse to view everything we come in contact with in a negative light. It lends itself to putting ourselves in the victim mode, when the truth of the matter is that you choose your attitude in every situation.

No one can force a feeling upon you! It is YOU who has the ultimate say as to how you choose to react.

5. Embrace the Freedom That the Feeling of Being Alone Can Offer

Instead of wallowing in self pity, which many are prone to do because of loneliness, try looking at your circumstance as a new-found freedom.

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Most people are in constant need of approval of their viewpoints. Try enjoying the fact that  you don’t need everyone you care about to support your decisions.

6. Acknowledge the Person You Are Now

Perhaps you feel a sense of loneliness and confusion because your life circumstances have taken you away from the persona that others know to be you.

Perhaps the new you differs radically from the old. Realize that life is about change and how we react to that change. It’s okay that you’re not who you used to be.

Take a look at this article and learn to accept your imperfect self: Accept Yourself (Flaws and All): 7 Benefits of Being Vulnerable

7. Keep Striving to Do Your Best

Often those who are feeling isolated and unto themselves will develop a defeatist attitude. They’ll do substandard work because their self esteem is low and they don’t care.

Never let this feeling take away your sense of worth! Do your best always and when you come through this dark time, others will admire how you stayed determined in spite of the obstacles you had to overcome.

And to live your best life, you must do this ONE thing: step out of your comfort zone.

8. Don’t Forget That Time Is Precious

When we’re lost in a sea of loneliness and depression, it’s all too easy to reflect on regrets of past life events. This does nothing but feed negativity and perpetuate the situation.

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Instead of falling prey to this common pitfall, put one foot in front of the other and acknowledge every positive step you take. By doing this, you can celebrate the struggles you overcome at the end of the day.

9. Remember, Things Happen for a Reason

Every circumstance we encounter in our life is designed to teach us and that lesson is in turn passed on to others.

Sometimes we’re fortunate enough to figure out the lesson to be learned, while other times, we simply need to have faith that if the lesson wasn’t meant directly for us to learn from, how we handled it was observed by someone who needed to learn.

Your solitude and feeling of lost, in this instance, although painful possibly, may be teaching someone else.

10. Journal During This Time

Record your thoughts when you’re at the height of loneliness and feeling lost. You’ll be amazed when you reflect back at how you viewed things at the time and how far you’ve come later.

This time (if recorded) can give you a keen insight into who you are and what makes you feel the way you feel.

11. Remember You Aren’t the First to Feel This Way

It’s quite common to feel as if we’re alone and no one else has ever felt this way before. We think this because at the time of our distress, we’re silently observing others around us who are seemingly fine in every way.

The truth is, we can’t possibly know the struggles of those around us unless they elect to share them. We ALL have known this pain!

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Try confiding in someone you trust and ask them how they deal with these feelings when they experienced it. You may be surprised at what you learn.

12. Ask for Help If the Problem Persists

The feeling of being lost and lonely is common to everyone, but typically it will last for a relatively short period of time.

Most people will confess to, at one time or another, being in a “funk.” But if the problem persists longer than you feel it should, don’t ignore it.

When your ability to reason and consider things rationally becomes impaired, do not poo poo the problem away and think it isn’t worthy of attention. Seek medical help.

Afraid to ask for help? Here’s how to change your outlook to aim high!

Final Thoughts

Loneliness and a sense of feeling lost can in many ways be extremely painful and difficult to deal with at best. However, these feelings can also serve as a catalyst for change in our lives if we acknowledge them and act.

Above anything, cherish your mental well being and don’t underestimate its worth. Seek professional guidance if you’re unable to distinguish between a sense of freedom for yourself and a sense of despair.

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Featured photo credit: Andrew Neel via unsplash.com

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