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Eight Ways to End Whining

Whining is pint-sized complaining. Young children whine when they're upset, sick or tired - or when they simply want something. Whining is an annoying and unpleasant habit that often precedes a temper tantrum. To wind down the whining in your home, try these eight helpful strategies:

  1. Identify. Tell your child when he is whining. He may not be aware of his own behavior.

  2. Resist. Discourage whining by never giving your child what he wants when he whines for it. It's sometimes tempting to give in to a child's demands because it stops the whining behavior for the moment, but not standing firm only teaches your child that whining works - and encourages him to use it again and again.

  3. Explain. When your child whines, respond by saying, "I don't understand what you are asking for. You need to talk to me in a big boy (or big girl) voice."

  4. Ignore. Tell your child that you will not answer him until he stops whining. Refuse to respond until he speaks to you in an acceptable tone of voice.

  5. Model. Don't complain in front of your child about your own circumstances. Stay calm and in control when things aren't going your way. By modeling calm self-confidence, you will teach your child to do the same.

  6. Reward. Reward your child with praise when he uses an appropriate tone of voice to tell you something is wrong or to ask for something he wants. Be specific in your praise: "Thank you for talking so clearly. When you ask for something that way, I can understand what you want." Then clearly explain why your child may or may not have what he is asking for.

  7. Distract. Sometimes you can get your child to stop whining by distracting him with something else he's more interested in. This could be talking about a favorite toy or movie, reading a book or discussing something you did or are planning to do together soon.

  8. Discipline. Discipline your child by giving a time-out when he continues his whining behavior and all other efforts have failed.

The most important thing to remember with all of these strategies is to use them consistently. As you do, you should see your child's whining decrease. More importantly, you are teaching him a positive way to appropriately ask for what he wants or to express negative feelings in a productive way as he grows older.