Would You Like Some Cheese with That Whine?

We yearn for the moment our children begin to say mommy and daddy and we applaud them as their vocabulary broadens. But when those sweet voices turn out nasally but whys and a shrill I want it now, it’s like nails on a chalkboard. The sound can make a patient parent do almost anything just to quiet the child and save her own sanity. But giving in gives the green light to all whiny fits, because as a child mentally calculates, “When I whine, I get my way.” Not anymore.

Whining is a behavior that is inevitable; sooner or later your child will dabble in it. It usually occurs when a child feels like the communication is broken between himself and his parent/caregiver and wants to get a message across.

Defining the Whine

Most of the time, children don’t realize they are whining or don’t know what whining is. Point out your child’s whining to her the next time it occurs and demonstrate the proper way to ask for something. Demonstrate both types of voices, the normal voice and the not-so-pleasant voice, so your child will get to hear how “annoying” the sound is and understand that it’s not okay to whine when asking for something. “When my kids whine, I ask them to use their big boy and big girl voices to ask for something, and I don’t acknowledge their requests until they ask the proper way,” says Jennifer Moore, Olathe mother of two. 

Evaluate the Situation

When your child wasn’t able to talk, she communicated to you by crying. Now that she is older, her form of communication has turned into a somewhat more sophisticated form of crying that consists of long drawn out tones and high pitched pleads. Evaluate your child and her surroundings like you did when she was a baby. “I used the HALT method with my children. Are they hungry, angry, lonely or tired, and most of the time it was one of those,” says Janet Flack, Belton mother of two.

Be Consistent

No means no, and that’s the answer you have to give every time your child is whining, because all it takes is one time for them to realize that their whining is an effective way to get what they want.

It’s also important to not show any emotion when your child’s voice has changed a few octaves because you aren’t buying him that toy. Even if you are about to pull your hair out, don’t give in. Keep that poker face. If a child knows that her whining irritates you and that you will eventually give in, she won’t stop until she gets what she wants. “I’m almost in tears half the time because the whining irritates me so much, but I know that if I give in, it will only get worse,” Jenna Dobal, Prairie Village mother of three, says.


Your child will become very frustrated when he realizes that whining is not getting him anywhere, so take that time to sit down with your child and come up with alternative ways to meet his wants. This will show your child that you are listening to him and that you do understand what he is asking for.  Offer suggestions such as, “You need to read for an hour before you watch TV” or “Let’s start saving your allowance for that new remote control car.”

Un-whining your child is another battle that goes along with parenting, but with a few new strategies under your belt, you’ll be ready to deal with it head on. Good luck!

Jennifer Duxbury is a freelance writer from Belton and stay-at-home mom with her 2-year-old son Madden. She is preparing for the whining wars!

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