Whining is something that every one of us has done at some point in our lives. It can be very frustrating for parents and often leads to an emotional explosion, which benefits no one.
In this article, we will take you through 6 positive strategies to use to reduce and avoid whining in your children. While designed for use with kids, these strategies are transferable and will be just as effective on people of any age.
Why do children whine?
There are a multitude of reasons why children whine. Sometimes it is as simple as they are unsure of how to phrase their request or how to adjust their tone of voice. This is a skill that is developed over time and can take a while to grasp.
They may be whining to get your attention, as they know this way of speaking will get a rise out of you. They may be whining because they have a physical need, such as hunger or thirst that is impacting their emotions.
The same applies to emotional needs. Children will always seek out your love and support when they are lacking in any area of life, and this often presents as whining.
Some older children will fall back into the habit of whining. This is because they are mimicking behaviors that they had success with in the past. This is commonly seen when they are unsure of how to progress in a situation, so they will fall back onto old habits.
Whining may also be due to your child feeling out of control. If they are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, whining is a common response.
Provide Affection And Love
Many children, especially those under the age of 5, are beginning to explore their independence. Simultaneously, they still crave the approval and support of their parents in all that they do. You should ensure that your children feel loved and supported by you as this will give them a level of emotional security.
We recommend setting aside a minimum of 10 minutes a day for quality time with your children. Do not look at your phone or get distracted during this time, your sole focus should be on your child or children.
This positive, proactive attention will build a deeper bond with your kids and help them to become more cooperative.
Ask Them To Rephrase Their Request
If your child approaches you to ask for something in a whiny voice, give them the opportunity to correct their behavior.
Crouch down to their level and look them in the eye, while saying in a calm voice “I’d really like to listen to what you’re saying. Could you ask again but try to match the way I’m speaking?”
This will give your child an opportunity to self-correct, an important developmental skill. By speaking to them you allow an example of the correct tone, providing something for them to mimic if they are unsure of what to do.
This method works best if you can then say yes to their request. The positive reinforcement creates strong associations in their brain that they are likely to retain for the future.
Some children may not even be aware that they are whining, so it is important to ensure you explain tonality and delivery to them.
This provides them with the tools to be able to rephrase the words they are using to make it more pleasant. A good way to explain the different voice tones and methods of delivery is through storytime.
As you are reading the story to your child, speak in an angry voice, a happy voice, a whiny voice, etc. Take the time to explain what each of the tones are and how they make people around you feel. This will give your child a good base of knowledge to build on.
Do Not Give In To The Whining
In line with the point above, you should never allow your child’s whining to give them their desired outcome. This will teach them that this kind of behavior is acceptable and will mean that they continue to exhibit it.
Once they have made this association, it is very hard to break. The easiest way to prevent whining is to never allow it to be successful.
You must be consistent in your parenting style, as this is what ultimately leads to the best results.
You should firmly state your limits and the desired behavior, and adjust your reactions accordingly to their behavior. If your child begins to cry and throw a tantrum, remain calm and state that this will not get them anywhere.
This is a really fun and unique parenting technique, although it tends to work better with slightly older children. As they begin to whine and complain, it may seem as though you are on a set course to a tantrum.
Instead of trying to argue back and debate with your child, simply shout “switch!” Once you have said this, they become the parent and you become the child. Play into the role, and up the whining.
This will teach your children what it is like for someone to whine at them and allows them to see how ineffective and annoying it is as an argument tool.
If you notice your child becoming confused or frustrated with how to respond to your fake whining, take a step back and use your adult emotional intelligence to make this a learning opportunity.
Ask them for suggestions as to how the situation could be handled differently, or what steps could be taken to make everyone involved feel better. The main hack to this method is to remain calm and monitor the emotional response of your child.
Empathy is an incredibly powerful emotion that is often underestimated in life. There is a strong chance that your child is whining because they feel ignored, underappreciated, or undervalued.
They may be confused as to how to get your attention and fall back on whining to get a rise out of you. After all, any attention is better than no attention at all.
You should talk to your child and try to establish what the root cause of their problem is. Are they hungry, angry, or sad? Take the time to understand their feelings and talk them through. Give their emotions names and explain the impacts that they have.
Take guidance from your child. Ask them what you can do to improve their mood or make them feel better. This allows them to self-assess and will develop their problem-solving skills as well as their independence.
Praise Positive Behavioral Changes
Children, like dogs, respond well to positive validation of their behaviors. This can be in the form of physical treats or verbal praise. This will generate a number of positive associations in the brain, making your child more likely to implement the positive behavior traits in the future.
Noticing and thanking your children for exhibiting patience, restraint, or just asking nicely for something will go a long way. It will make them feel seen and as though their efforts are being appreciated. This will make them much more likely to put the effort in to behave correctly in the future.
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