When your child starts to whine, a simple trip to the grocery store can turn into an ordeal. You want to get home quickly to make dinner, but now you’re falling behind schedule. You try to remain patient, but those high-pitched wails frazzle your nerves.
While it may be tempting to lose your temper or give in to your child’s pleas, there are more constructive alternatives.
Learn how to deal with whining and prevent it before it starts.
- Stay calm. Your child will pick up on your mood so ensure you’re doing what you can to reduce both your stress levels. Take a deep breath and smile. Speak softly and clearly.
- Stand fast. Giving your child what they ask for is the quickest way to stop their whining, but that approach will backfire in the long run. That’s because you’re training them to believe that whining works. Instead, hold your ground.
- Suggest alternatives. Let your child know that it’s okay to ask for what they want in a courteous manner. Role play so they can understand the difference between a shrill voice and a pleasant one.
- Offer positive reinforcement. Praise your child when they behave well. Applaud their efforts to put their their feelings into words and seek mutually satisfactory solutions. Let them know that such achievements are difficult even for grown-ups.
- Lighten up. You may feel like there’s a spotlight shining on you when your child has a meltdown in the school parking lot. In reality, most parents know that it’s natural for kids to whine, and you may have more sympathy and support than you realize.
- Rule out medical causes. While most whining is harmless, it could sometimes be a sign that your child is under the weather. If they seem more irritable or fidgety than usual, check for health issues first.
- Nurture your connection. Your child’s grumbling is often a way of seeking more of your attention. Make it a top priority to spend significant family time and one-on-one time together on a daily basis.
- Learn and play. Adequate stimulation will also reduce whining. Share fun and enriching activities with your child like reading books and playing outdoor games. Buy a family membership at a local science museum or community pool.
- Enforce bedtimes. Many modern children are sleep-deprived. Try moving bedtimes back an hour and stick to a consistent schedule even on weekends.
- Encourage healthy eating. A nutritious diet will give your child more energy and help to stabilize their blood sugar. Plan balanced meals and healthy snacks, including plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Take breaks. If your child is acting up, you may have exceeded their attention span. Switch activities or give them a little quiet time to refresh and recharge.
- Avoid other triggers. In addition to the events that most children find to be a little stressful, your child may have their own personal triggers. Pay attention to when they whine to see if it may be related to something going on at school or at home.
- Be a positive role model. Your child will be less likely to whine if you avoid excessive complaining too. Monitor your conversations to ensure that you’re setting the kind of example you want them to follow.
Give your child the attention they need, and teach them how to replace whining with more effective communication styles. You’ll enjoy your time together more, and you’ll prepare your child to interact politely and respectfully with others as they grow older.