Friday, July 18, 2014

Why Kids Whine and How to Deal With It

Whining has come to feel "normal" in my home with three small children, but what's important to note, this whining comes in waves. Whining leads me to feel either overwhelmed & upset or I try ignoring the behavior all together. Neither of the previously mentioned scenarios actually helps a whining child. I know that much from experience. What it also doesn't do is leave a parent feeling good about themselves.

But what's a parent to do?

Like I mentioned before, whining comes in waves in our home. Therefore I realize very quickly when the waves come crashing through that something is off. For instance, do you ever notice how your children can get wild and cranky after a long birthday party?You'd think all the fun would keep them light and happy, but other than being pooped, they've also had to compete for your attention and suddenly they're not feeling very connected to mom, dad or both.

A child whines because of disconnection. They're feeling internal turmoil as they try to express a want. They do not mean to annoy mom and dad. They are simply disconnected from their parents to the point that whining feels like the natural and only measure for them to express needs, and possibly, have those needs met.

When a child begins one of these waves of whiny behavior evaluate how much of your individual attention they've had lately. My kids share the spotlight like many and so sometimes whining just comforts them. This doesn't mean whining is okay because it's NOT. Kids simply falsely believe parents will understand their needs and jump into action when whining happens.

Some tips to utilize when dealing with a whiny child (from

  1. Keep a record to figure what is happening before, after or during the whining. Understand the triggers and wants of your child. Whatever you do, don't argue with a whining child. That only makes matters worse. Younger kids are easy and usually whining means a child simply need to rest or eat. Older kids can be more challenging to understand.
  2. Whatever you do, don't give in, but instead teach the difference between a pleasant and a not pleasant voice. This is good with older kids. Ask them to use their "pleasant voice" teaching them what it sounds like. Giving in leads children to believe if they persist, they get what they want. It's tough, but don't give in. Not even in public! Doesn't matter who's watching you MUST be consistent with a child. Correct negative behavior immediately.
  3. Role play: You can use stuffed animals to teach pleasant verses unpleasant voices. Get a couple of books or cartoons on this subject matter. We love Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood in our home (many episodes focus on themes that teach kids to think about their feelings and appropriate communication). 
  4. Catch children in the moment. Remind kids right away about using a pleasant voice and when they do that then respond promptly. Show them that the pleasant voice mattered to you and they got the connection and attention they wanted when they used it.
Share your tips, too with a comment below...

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