Health & Family

Want to end kids' whining? Show it gets them nothing

Q. “My 4-year-old whines a lot. Part of it is just how her voice sounds, but it is very annoying. How can I get her to stop whining?”– Mother in Raleigh

Make sure whining gains zilch every time, and it will stop.

Act as if you cannot understand the squeaking, several parents suggest. Say something like: “Please talk in a regular voice so I can understand you.”

“If I can catch myself before I respond and say quit whining, then I just totally do not respond,” says a mother of two girls in Huntersville. “When the girls repeat a few times and say, ‘Mommy, aren't you listening to me?' I say, ‘I hear you making some kind of noise, but I can't understand you. Ask again without the whining and I will answer.'”

Cynthia Bonner of Blacksburg, Va., says repeating “use your big-girl voice” worked with her daughter. “It often took a lot of fortitude on my part not to cave in to her whining, especially when I was stressed,” Bonner recalls.

“Eventually she realized that whining would not get her what she wanted.”

A mother in Decatur, Ga., explains the workings of the preschool mind: “When a child wants something, they whine to get attention. If your mom, dad or grandma gives you something just so you shut up, it works. If your child will ask politely, the answer should sometimes be a yes. If they whine, the answer should always be no.”

It's important for parents to agree to stick to a policy of “whining gets you nowhere,” but grandparents also have to be part of the discipline plan, a Loveland, Colo., mother suggests.