Whine Busters – 5 Tips to Stop that Whining!
- Call attention to it
Your child knows what she wants, and she knows she doesn’t have it yet. What she may not know is that she’s whining. As her usually sweet voice turns into a wail, make sure she understands what she is doing. Try telling her that you can’t understand whining and even mimic the sound she is making. Not only will this help her understand, it may distract her to hear Mommy make such funny noises.
- Use encouragement and praise for proper behavior
Not only is it important to let your child know that whining is inappropriate, it is important to reward him when he asks for something in a polite manner—and I don’t mean a reward of treats or stickers. Acknowledge his behavior and let him know that you appreciate and approve manner he used, even if your answer is “no.” For example, if he asks for a toy at the store, you could say, “Thank you so much for asking nicely. Mommy loves it when you ask that way. But we’re not here to buy toys today. Maybe another time.”
- Have a “whine zone”
Just like you may have a designated “time-out” spot for tantrums and other inappropriate behavior, try a “whine zone”: a place where your child can whine and vent her frustrations without bothering you. This will make it easier for you to ignore the whining and will make it clear to her that her behavior is socially inappropriate. Make sure you send her to the “whine zone” calmly.
- Try to understand the reason
According to pediatrician Laurel Schultz, M.D., whining is a learned behavior. If a parent is too busy to respond to a child’s request right away, the child gets more and more desperate and eventually begins to whine, as whining produces results. So, try to respond to your child’s first attempt for your attention. Again, even if your answer is “no,” make sure your child knows that you hear him and that you understand what he wants.
Becky Bailey, PhD, says, “Often whining signals its time to reconnect with your child.” If whining is getting out of hand, ask yourself if perhaps you need to spend more time with your child. “A few minutes once or twice a day can make a huge difference for families dealing with difficult behavior.”
Also, make sure your child isn’t just emulating your bad habits. Do you have a whining problem? And, of course, make sure your child isn’t whining due to illness or pain.
- Be consistent
Common advice in childrearing is to “pick your battles.” That may be true, but whining is one battle you may have to fight several times. If you stick to your guns on Tuesday, but give in on Wednesday, you’re sending a mixed message. Your child will realize that if she pushes you hard enough, you will cave and the whining will not only continue, but possibly increase.
If you say “no,” to something, don’t back down. Once the whining begins, don’t step back and say, “Okay, you can have this if you stop whining.” You may think you’re rewarding your child for not whining, but you’ve just demonstrated that whining will get her the result she wants.
No form of discipline is a one-size-fits-all. Try these suggestions and use them as a springboard to come up with some of your own!