Stop Your Kids’ Whining

Get tips for dealing with whiny kids.

Cherylyn Feierabend,
May 16, 2009
Episode #114

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Hey there! You’re listening to the Mighty Mommy with some quick and dirty tips for practical parenting.

Let the Whining Begin

My children have learned a new talent. We’ll call it the drive-mommy-crazy talent. You’d probably recognize it as whining. “Mommy, I’m hungry” has turned into “Mommmmmeeeeee, I’m hungreeeeee.” I don’t understand why this happens, but I’m sure I must have done this as a child too. I’m trying to be a good mom and I refrain from whining back at them. “Whaaaat do you waaaaant to eeeeeat?” Sometimes the whining isn’t even in the form of words. The kids just grunt at me like little animals—like when  they must suffer the terrible fate of eating a red popsicle because all of the blue ones are already gone. Oh, the horror. I’ve tried a lot of things, actually. Some of them worked and some of them didn’t. The kids continue to whine. I hear that this will go on and on and on throughout their teen years as well. Oh, the happiness these thoughts bring me.

Should You Ignore the Whining?

I have heard some parents suggest that you simply ignore the whining child. I’d be surprised if that works for you. Ultimately, I disagree with that method, though that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. I simply see whining as a form of attention seeking. Unfortunately, this is considered negative attention and it’s a type of attention we don’t want to give.  If we completely ignore the fact that it’s happening, we could be sending the message of “I don’t care” when the message we really want to send is, “I’ll communicate with you when you stop this negative behavior.” This message can easily be presented to an older child or teenager as is, but the younger ones may need a simpler explanation. My three-year-old boy will taper his whining a bit when I say, “Mommy will talk to you when you can be a big boy and use your words.” If you have a set of words you use with your child that you know he’ll understand, such as “use your words” or “talk like a big boy,” this is a good time to give him a reminder. Let him know that you’ll be ready and available to discuss the situation as soon as he complies. You don’t necessarily have to ignore him to get your point across that Mommy isn’t going to take any action until the whining stops.