The other day my son was in a very complaining mood. "Want some cheese with that whine?" I asked with a wink in my eye. He stopped dead, paused a second and then started laughing. Children that whine can really get on our nerves, but you getting upset about it will likely just escalate the behavior. So how do we get our kids to whine less? Here are some tips:
Explain the whine dilemma
During a time when your child is not whining, take a minute to talk about it. Explain that when we whine, our real need doesn't always come across. Asking for what we want is a much better way to be heard. Also explain that once you have given an answer, it is not going to change just because your child whines about it. If your child wants to have a discussion about your answer (usually with older children), that's fine. But we can't have a conversation when one party is whining. This way you have set clear expectations for what your stance is on whining. The following tips is for when the whining occurs anyway (because it will):
- Remind them: Oh, I think you are whining right now. Remember when I told you that's not a good way to let me know how you feel? Can you use your words to tell me what you want instead?
- Assess the situation: What could be causing the whining? Is she tired? Hungry? Is she feeling like she is not in control? Figuring out the cause could help you stop the whining at the gate. Maybe a snack and some snuggle time is all that was really needed. Maybe you need to let her make a choice or decision about something so that she feels that she is not powerless.
- Find some humor in the situation: Humor is a great way to disarm a potentially emotional breakdown. Now, I don't mean to make fun of your child. Imitating them or making fun will make them feel like you don't respect them and what they have to say. But like my example in the beginning, just joking about the situation might be enough to interrupt their train of thought, and will let us get back to what they are actually trying to tell us.
And finally remember that this too shall pass and there is a whole parenting community out there that is living it with you. Share some of your whining go-to ideas in the comments!