Why do they do that? Whining.

Why do kids whine?

  • It works (some of the time) to get them what they want.

  • If you want to stop being annoyed by whining, there are two things you can do: live with it or change it. Find out how below.

“Would you like some cheese with your whine”, is something I longed to ask my children when they were little. (I didn’t because toddlers don’t do sarcasm well -- but more on that in a later post).

I have to think that whining is universally detested by parents. And I think it’s because it’s soooo effective. Our children seem to know exactly what to say and how to say it in a way that spurs us to do whatever it takes to stop the whining.

If you can step out of it long enough to look at things from a bit of a distance, it’s really quite ingenious.

Your child’s whining = your buttons pushed = your child’s results.

I don’t respond to other people’s children whining in the same way that I respond to my own. It’s like every toddler-parent combination has their own special frequency just for them.

See? Genius.

Ok, though. I get that whining is SUPER ANNOYING. So what to do?

First, breathe and remember that your child is using their (limited) toolset to try and get their needs and wants met. They know that whining sometimes works, so they are going to try it.

Next, recognize that your buttons are being pushed and decide not to react. You DO have to respond, but you DON’T need to react.

Then, respond kindly and calmly (and firmly) in whatever way you decide you are going to handle the whining. Will you kindly, calmly and firmly request that your child “try again”? Or kindly, calmly, and firmly remind them that “in this family, the rule is no whining. You can ask me nicely.”? Or will you kindly, calmly and firmly ignore the whining and say something like, “seems like you want something but I can’t understand you when you say it like that”?

Did you notice that “kindly and calmly” accompanied all of those options? Did you wonder why? A little secret: what you say matters less to your children than HOW you say it.

Young children who are still learning how to talk will pay more attention to your tone of voice than to your words. They are watching you and imitating you in order to learn how to be in the world. If we model kindness and calmness, we will see it reflected back to us… eventually. If we model aggravation and frustration, we will see that reflected back to us (and feel compelled to add in a “you need to speak respectfully to adults” lesson onto the whining lesson, which will then lead to a tantrum for sure).

Consistency (along with kindness and calm) is your friend when dealing with any annoying behavior.

If you have found this video helpful, check out more videos on my blog at www.speechkids.com/blog and let me know what you think by replying.

All my best,