What To Do When Your Child Whines

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When my cousins and I were young, my grandfather made a sign that still hangs from the wall of the house.  It said, “Thou Shalt Not Whine.”

Most children whine at some point in their lives.  Why do children whine? Because they want something and they hope to frazzle their parents into giving them what they want in order to stop the whining.  When a child discovers that he can get his way by whining, life becomes very interesting to say the least.

How do you stop your child’s whining?

Don’t Reinforce The Habit

Imagine that you are at the grocery store and your child spies candy at the checkout counter.  She wants a certain kind and asks if she can have it.  You say no.  She asks again, and again, and again.  Each time you say no.  Then, she begins to whine.  You feel compelled to explain why and it goes downhill from there.  At this point, most parents will just buy the child candy to get some peace.  The child gets the candy and they just been shown that whining works.  This means that next time you are in the checkout lane, you can expect a whining session–perhaps even a worse one.  What should you do?

Say No

This sounds so SIMPLE, but it really works.  If my children ask for something I can’t give to them or don’t want to give to them, the answer is simply no.  I don’t go into a long drawn out explanation or a shouting match.  If I feel the need to give an explanation, I keep it short and sweet. For example, “You have plenty of candy from the recent holiday. You don’t need more candy.”  If they continue on, I ignore all requests and whines. 

If the whining got really bad, I might sing “the no song”.  “The NO song” was a silly made up song which basically goes, “No means no. No means NO.  No means no means no means NO.”  By the time I finished the song, either they were laughing, or singing with me.  Either way, they got the message.  The song has made a lasting impression upon my children; just the other day did I catch my 11 year old singing this to her 2 year old brother who was on the verge of a temper tantrum.  It made me laugh to myself because it’s been YEARS since I had to sing the no song to them.

Reward Good Behavior

One of the best ways to reduce whining is to reward good behavior.  For example, perhaps you are standing in line at the checkout counter and your child actually doesn’t begin to whine about getting candy!  That is the time to say, “I’m so proud of the way you are acting.  In fact, I am so pleased with your behavior, that I’m going to buy you some candy!”  Of course, if you do this too often, you’ll be starting a candy habit!  The key is to not buy candy too often, but often enough to encourage your child.  Always praise your child verbally for her good behavior though! 

If you consistently follow through with this “anti-whining” program, you should see results.  Eventually, you’ll have a child who doesn’t whine.  Good luck!


[…] autism.  It was very easy to use a pacifier to calm her down during her many tantrums or when she whined simply because it worked.  However, I began to realize that I had to find other ways to help her […]

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