6 things to Do when your Kids won’t Stop Whining

There’s nothing that wears a parent down more than continuous whining. We ignore it hoping it will work but mostly we just give in and give our kids what they want to Make. It. Stop!

Why do little kids whine?

A 3-4 year old’s language skills are improving but they still don’t have the ability to express what they’re feeling – so they often whine instead. It’s an irritating blend of talking and crying.

And the reason they continue doing it is because it works. They get what they want. They continue the behaviour that works for them.

Now that you know why kids whine, here’s how to make it stop:

1. Develop a thick skin

Don’t let whining get under your skin and make you lose your temper. Let your child’s whining be his problem, not yours. Don’t allow it to put you in a bad mood.

That doesn’t mean you should allow it though. Don’t leave your child stuck in misery. Help him or her to get out of his whining rut.  

2. Train your child

Demonstrate to your child the difference between whining and asking nicely. Then, when they whine, cheerfully say, “I’m sorry but your voice is whiny and my ears don’t work well when you whine. Please use your normal voice.”

And then, stick to it. Follow through every single time your child starts to whine. If your child continues to whine, say, “I know you’re saying something but my ears aren’t working. Please use your normal voice.”

When your child uses his normal voice, respond positively right away.

“Now I can hear you! My ears work well when you use your normal voice!”  

To train your child out of whining will require consistency on your part. If you give in to whining, your child will learn you don’t mean what you say.

3. Find the source of the grumps

Is your child overtired? Hungry? Do they need a hug or a story? Do they just have an attitude problem? Recognise why your child may be whining and deal with the root cause instead of the symptom.

But, just because your child is tired or hungry, doesn’t mean it’s ok to whine. Your child can choose to be cheerful in spite of being hungry. That leads to my next point:

4. Teach surrender

Whining is a heart problem. It stems from discontentment and unhappiness. The Bible reminds us to “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life.” (Proverbs 4:23 KJV). What’s going on in the heart will come out of the mouth.

Teach your child to surrender his or her heart to Jesus. Ezekiel 36:26,27 promises, “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you…” (KJV)

Help your child pray this prayer:

“Dear Jesus, thank You that You can change my heart and make me happy. Please take my grumpy heart and give me a happy heart.”

Tip for you, the parent: You should learn to pray this prayer for yourself too. You can’t help your child overcome a negative mind-set if you don’t know how to do it yourself.

If praying with your child doesn’t make a difference it’s time to move on to the next step:

5. Make all negative behaviour counterproductive

Remember, kids whine because it works for them. So make it not work.  Don’t give in to what your child is whining for. Say “no” and stick to it, no matter where you are.

If he continues whining, give your child a consequence. Every time. He will soon learn that whining isn’t worth it.

Here are some ideas:

  • Sing a happy song
  • Tell 3 things they are thankful for
  • Go for a run/do jumping jacks
  • Do extra chores
  • No talking at all for 5 minutes (starve the whining)

If your child whines about the consequence, give him another one.

And lastly, sometimes all your child needs is some humour!

6. Use your sense of humour

Sometimes singing a silly song while “playing” your broomstick guitar will be enough to snap your child out of the glooms.

Pretend to call the ambulance to come and pick up your “sick” child and then pretend to be the ambulance driver and take your child to “hospital” (the couch?). Give them a dose of “anti-whine” medicine (some favourite juice maybe?).

Pretend to give your child a heart transplant. Make a show of cutting open his chest (be sure it tickles a bit), take out the grumpy heart and throw it away, and replace it with a happy heart. Then stitch his chest together again (make sure it tickles!). This worked really well for one of my kids who was a real “whiner”.

Remember, you get what you tolerate. If you don’t like whining, then stop tolerating it!

How do you help your kids stop whining?

About The Author

Jennifer Lovemore

Jennifer has diplomas in relationship counselling and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), is a certified SYMBIS facilitator, and is certified in TPM (Transformation Prayer Minsitry). She lives in South Africa, has three grown children, and is married to her best friend – Richard.

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