From the time that my son could speak in sentences, he started whining when he didn’t get what he wanted: his mother’s attention, a snack or even a fix for a faulty toy. When he turned 3, his incessant whining started to drive his mother nuts. There were times she’d mutter angrily under her breath, clench her teeth and start whining back at him. One day she finally lost all her control and told him to “shut up!” and then burst into tears. But I am guilty as can be – more often than not I’d just let her handle things her way as long as she can get that shrill sound to stop.
Whining is basically one of the most irritating blends of crying and talking and has the power to drive even the sanest of parents crazy. When your kid starts whining, you will either give in to his demands eventually or lose your cool at him. What’s worse is that preschoolers happen to be extra smart – they KNOW that whining is going to help them get their way. If your kid has started whining a lot lately, here are a few tips that may help you out:
7 Consider it a call for attention
Experts claim that when kids start whining, it is best for their parents to take a deep breath and remind themselves that their kid isn’t trying to irritate them – he is merely asking for help. With that, you should respond to your kid with “I” statement and model the way you want your child to speak. Tell him calmly that you don’t like it when he whines. Say something like, “I don’t like it when you start whining. If you want a cookie, say it like this”, and then model the words and tone that you want him to use.
In case your child continues to whine, it is recommended for you to look beyond the whiny behavior to be able to understand the message that your kid wants to convey. Ask yourself a few questions, ‘Has my child’s routine changed? Have I been busier than usual? Have I given his siblings more attention?’ Your kid maybe whining just because he wants you to reconnect with him – give him a bit more attention and he will be just fine.
How do I reconnect with him?
If your child has started whining as a call for attention and as a means of getting you to reconnect with him, it is highly recommended for you to spend a bit of focused time with him. During this time, read together with him, cook him a special meal or just do something that you know your child enjoys. A few minutes of connecting with your child once or twice day can go a long way in correcting behavioral issues including whining.
6 Stay calm and be clear
Children tend to use biting, kicking, screaming and crying as a means of getting a reaction from their parents. When their parents lash out at them out of frustration, it may trigger an unwanted affect. If anything, it may make the children feel that getting the attention they desire is easily possible through bad behavior.
Instead of lashing out at your child, it is best for you to calmly but firmly correct your child’s behavior by saying something like, “Please don’t hit Mummy. It hurts when you hit Mummy” or “Please ask politely”. Snapping at your child is just going to make him adopt the same tone as an appropriate means of expressing frustration. If your child’s bad behavior persists, don’t give in to him. Instead, tell him something like, “I will listen to you only when you use your normal voice”. Once done, turn your back towards him so he may know that you are ignoring him.
Refrain from giving in
Never give in to your child’s whining. Suppose your daughter is whining about what color socks she wants to wear to school, just state your position to her and stand your ground. If it is just the whining behavior that is bothering you – and not the color of socks that she should wear to school – say it to her. If she asks you properly and you are alright with the change, then you should let it go, but don’t let her whining get you to change your mind. If this happens, your child is just going to use whining as her means of getting what she wants.
5 Empathize before you start lecturing your kid
Instead of lashing out at your kid and saying something like, “You can’t always get what you want”, it is highly recommended for you to show a bit of empathy to him – at least before he turns his whining into a full-blown tantrum. Suppose he’s whining over a toy he wants, instead of telling him off, say, “Yeah it does look like a fun toy. Would you like to save your allowance money for it or should we add it to your birthday list?” This is basically going to help your kid learn to delay gratification. What’s more is that this response is going to give him hope and make him feel empowered – and best of all, it will help him learn about the importance of saving money.
Now, when your kid starts whining, there’s a good chance that he may not even know what he is doing. The best way to explain things to him and show him how badly he has been behaving, you should try to record both his pleasant and whiny voices and then make him listen to them. But while you are at it, make sure that he knows that the tape is being used to help him learn, not to make him feel bad. If need be, you should also teach him the words you want him to use to tell you that he’s hungry, tired, sleepy or bored. Kids have a thing for wanting to do what’s right and you shouldn’t assume that your kid knows what’s right. For this reason, give him a model to copy and show him how things need to be done and said.
Praise him when he deserves it
Parents are quick to point out their child’s faults. What they fail to do is to provide adequate positive reinforcement. Praise your kid for doing the right thing. Say something like, “Thank you for talking so sweetly”, or, “I love it when you talk this way”.
4 Give him a role model to follow
It isn’t just children who whine. As adults, all of us whine from time to time and it doesn’t go unnoticed by your kids. When you are around them, it is necessary for you to think about the things you say and how you say them. This is because your kids are going to learn how to behave from you. For this reason, it is necessary for you to be a good role model and you will see just how well your kids are going to start behaving. If you keep whining about things and throw a tantrum every now and then, your children are going to act the same way – and things won’t be fun then.
Next, if your child receives an allowance, there’s an amazing technique that can you try out. Each time your child begins to whine, just give him a warning. If his behavior continues, cut a portion of his allowance and place it in a jar labeled “The Whiny Jar”. When a bit of money piles up in the jar, get your kid to earn it back with extra chores. Having to earn it back and work hard for it is going to go a long way in getting your child to stop his bad behavior.
Make sure he gets lots of sleep
A major reason why a child usually becomes whiny is a lack of proper rest and sleep. Parents typically underestimate the amount of sleep their kids need to function at their best. When he doesn’t get proper sleep, your child’s brain is going to go into a stress mode that is going to trigger a constant state of irritability. For this reason, make sure that he gets proper sleep at night.
3 Stop whining before it starts
Your child may be trying to tell you something when he whines or displays related behavior. Maybe he has become bored of playing games, or maybe he has become hungry earlier than the established time for meals. So when your child starts whining, it is necessary for you to note the circumstances surrounding the situation. Perhaps you could give him a simple midmorning snack to ward off a noon meltdown, or take him to the park for a while to release all his pent-up energy. Things like these can come in very handy in terms of keeping bad behavior at bay.
One thing that you may not realize about whining is that although it’s never pleasant, there’s a good chance that you may be perpetuating it. Have you heard, “Mommy? Mommy? Mommy? Mommy?” before? By the time your kid says Mommy for the fourth time, there’s a good chance that you’ve been at full whine. Instead of reacting badly to your kid, it is necessary for you to listen to him. My son totally outwitted his mother one day. The moment she got frustrated and snapped at him, “What?”, he responded with a cute little “I love you”. Although the exchange was extremely cute, she could have avoided the initial whining just simply listening and responding appropriately.
Even if you are engaged in a conversation with your kid, it is necessary for you to listen to him and pay attention to what he is saying. If you get confused about something or misunderstand what he is saying, there is a good chance that it will lead to frustration, which will hence trigger whining. Just acknowledge the frustration in this case and move on with things.
2 Cut down on his sugar intake
Diet is often connected with behavior, and when it comes to children, sugar can act like a drug. If you find yourself pouring glass after glass of juice, there is a good chance that you are exceeding your child’s tolerance for sugar. You need to bear in mind the fact that things like soft drinks, sweets and other prepared foods are typically packed full of sugar. As soon as the sugar high is gone, there comes the low, which leads to a severe bout of whining.
You should pay a lot of attention to your child’s eating habits and formulate connections to his behavior. At times, simple changes to his diet can make all the difference in the world. The first thing that you need to do in this regard is to reconsider sugar-sweetened beverages. Soda is one of the few things that you need to stop giving to your kid along with juice drinks and energy drinks. There’s no doubting the fact that your child is going to be faced with a lot of overly-processed sweet foods all through his life. But when he is at home, you should try to up the ante by thinking twice about bringing these foods in your home. Instead, you should offer wholesome treats, dark chocolate and homemade desserts to your kid.
Be flexible with him
Kids are always going to be kids. For this reason, you need to understand that your child’s mind is active and may not stop even when having fun at the playground or when engrossed in a project. To make things easier for yourself and your kid, say something like, “Alright, we can read another story before bed”. .Show a bit of flexibility and make compromises with your child to stop him from whining.
1 Help him connect again
Whining signifies the fact that your kid needs an emotional outlet before being able to regain his sense that you are on his side. Things like crying, laughter and tantrums are typically used by children to release bad feelings and emotions. To help your child connect again, give him a good laugh, let him cry (without upset or punishment) or even throw a good tantrum to do away with his gnawing sense of loneliness or helplessness that is getting him to whine.
Your child is basically going to be able to take charge again the moment he regains a sense of connection with you. He will politely ask for what he wants without throwing a tantrum or acting badly. If anything, this is going to go a long way in making living with him much easier. The best part is that your energy is going to be well-spent as you focus on rebuilding a bond and connection with him.
Offer closeness and a clear limit to him if he isn’t satisfied
Parents typically have a very cold tone when they say ‘No’ to their kids. This cold tone basically makes their children feel even more alone – as if no one in this world cares about him. With that, it goes on to deepen the rut that your child is whining in. Instead of a cold ‘No’, try putting on a big grin on your face and say something like, “Nope, no more cookies for you today! I’ll give you one tomorrow” and kiss him on the cheek. This way your child is going to receive contact and a smile from you in place of cookies. However, if he continues to whine, come back to him and say, “Nah, nah, nah” and nuzzle into his neck. You basically need to smother him in affection – keep that big grin on your face. The attention that you offer to him is basically going to tip him towards laughter eventually – but it may tip him towards a tantrum too. No matter the results, it’s great for him. How so? Because things like tears, laughter and tantrums are going to dissolve that shell of loneliness that may have engulfed your child. As long as you listen and show affection towards him, things are going to be alright.