How to Conquer Whining?

I use Mondays to clear out my mailbag. This week’s question deals with cranky kids. Read on for our best advice on how to conquer whining.

Monday Mailbag Q&A

Question: How can I train my child to stop whining?

Dear Jennifer:

My two-year old has developed a bad habit of whining, and it’s driving the rest of the family crazy. Is there something I can do to curb this? Or do we just have to wait for him to grow out of this stage?

Getting Frustrated

Sure Fire Way to Wipe Out Whining

Answer: These six strategies work wonders with whiners!

Dear Frustrated:

What you’re describing may indeed be a stage, but I’ve got good news. There are definitely things you can do to help your child outgrow it more quickly. To effectively conquer whining requires patient and consistent application of the following six strategies (which I originally shared on my marriage & motherhood blog, Loving Life at Home):

  1. Commitment

    Explain to your little boy that his behavior is making it hard for anyone to enjoy his company. Assure him that you love him regardless how he acts, but that you want other people to love him, too, so you’re going to do whatever it takes to help him break his bad habit of whining.

  2. Consequences

    Whenever you give in to whining, you are rewarding and reinforcing such behavior. This must stop immediately. If you hope to help your child overcome this habit, you must make certain his whining never pays off. When he is begging for something he doesn’t really need, like candy at the checkout counter, then deprive him of it completely. When he’s whining for something he genuinely does need, like a drink of water when he’s thirsty, then insist that he ask nicely before you give it.

  3. Cheerfulness

    Be careful to model a cheerful, happy disposition yourself. If you are angry and impatient in your responses to your child, your efforts to modulate his behavior will fall flat. In the above example, when your little boy whines for water, fill the cup, get down on his level, smile broadly, and prompt him, “Do you remember the nice way to ask?” Or simply say the words you want and let him parrot them back: “Water, please?” If you’ll teach your child how to say please in sign language (by rubbing his open hand on his chest in a circular motion), then you can even help him “say please” when he is too upset to utter the words. Gently guide his hand through the motion, then respond enthusiastically, “See? Isn’t that a much nicer way to ask?” as you give him his water.

[read the remaining 3 tips at Loving Life at Home]

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  1. I can feel your pain, my 5 year old daughter tends to behave this way when she has a certain role model (3 year old playmate) around. It is truly hard but I will literally ignore the whiny times since I directly remind her how to converse with me. Until she responds and acts favorably will I give her what she wants or needs. When she does act well I will lavish love upon her. In this way I am hoping to reward good behavior. Check maybe her influences and see if there are whiny triggers.

  2. I’m raising a granddaughter who whines literally about everything, from a whiny voice when asking for something to having something whiny to say about everything…even when getting what she wants, i.e. ask for a certain food gets it then whines it not like she wanted or really wanted blah blah and I really don’t let her get away w/it, talking nicely gets me no where and really fussing at her and denying the things she wants and more if whining continues and/or just really getting on my last nerve; yet she still whines day in/day out… I thought my kids were a handful, ppl always told me I had great kids, well behaved, I was like yeah ya don’t live w/em… think God is giving me a good dose of what I thought I had 20/30 yrs ago…any suggestions, cause family is not happy w/me always correcting and fussing at her and that a whole nother can of worms… know what I mean ?

  3. i have a very strong willed 4 year old whiner!! He has a beautiful heart i just cant get him to control his emotions, if he is hungry or sleepy at all ……………it is almost impossible to get him to regain control!! it is beyond whining!! but he doesnt throw himself down and cry just sad im very out of control whining!! It is so hard to keep calm after so long of asking him to calm down, holding him, letting him know i love him…. it seems nothing snaps him out of it unless im like HEY you want some candy or to watch a movie which i never do but i have and he snaps out of it immidiatly which shows me he is capable!!Praying for Him!!

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