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How to Get Your Kids to Stop Whining All the Time

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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.

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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 July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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