Whining? Pleeaaasssseeee make it STOP!

Raise your hand if you enjoy listening to your kids whine.

What, no hands? Mine isn't up either.

No one likes whining. In fact, one of the biggest questions from parents, How do I get my kids to stop whining?

So how do we win the whining battle?

First we need to look at why our kids are whining. This is a difficult thing to do. Why? Because it is most likely our fault they are whining.

Kids whine because they are trying to get OUR attention. They don't feel like we are listening to them, so they get frustrated and whine. The root of the problem could lie with us. Do our kids try and tell us something and we don't acknowledge them? Are we always "sooshing", or "shooing" them? Do our children ask us for something and we don't respond right away? Do we brush over their concerns or questions? Giving the impression we heard them, but don't care?

Our kids are not whining to make us irritated and mad. They are simply trying to get our attention and be heard. They are frustrated and whining is how they express their frustration. They know that we can't ignore the whining.

What can we do?
We need to stop ignoring them. We need to get down to their level and not only "hear" them, but really hear what they are saying and address and acknowledge it. We need to respond to their first request for attention. Not their third. By putting them off, and ignoring the requests, we encourage our children to whine. The exact behavior we say we don't like.

This doesn't mean we give them what they want all the time, but even when the answer is "no" we need to address the request in a timely fashion.

Spending individual time with our children will also help reduce whining. Remember this post on One-on-one time? We need to give each child attention so they don't have to act out to get our attention.

When our Kids Whine.
1. Point out that your child is whining. Many times kids don't even realize they are doing it. I know with our daughter, I will tell her she is whining and her response, "No I'm not." She doesn't even realize it has happened. This might mean that you need to demonstrate what whining sounds like. It is okay to do that, but don't make fun of your child IN ANY WAY when you are demonstrating. Instead, whine about adult things, like doing the dishes, so that your child doesn't feel attacked. Use humor and ask them how your whining makes them feel. Then, model the right way to ask or talk. Model to your child how to communicate without whining. Give them a realistic example and show them how they "should" talk.

2. Make it clear that whining is not acceptable. We do this by explaining that whining will not get them what they want. Then explain that you would like to hear what they have to say, but you will not listen until they talk to you in a normal tone of voice. No exceptions!

3. Don't give in and don't loose your cool. When kids whine, we have to stay calm. If they see it is getting us frustrated, the will keep doing it. Stay calm, explain the need for them to use a normal voice if they want to talk to you, and then go about your business. What ever you do, DON'T GIVE IN. When kids get what they want from whining, it teaches them that whining works. SO they will continue to whine to get what they want. We have to stand strong. Or else we send a message that is really hard to reverse.

4. Stay steady. Consistency is key. We can't give in to some whining and then not to others. If the rule is not whining, then stick to the rule. It is the consistency that will teach our children we are serious, and create a lasting change.

What if we really ARE busy (like when I am on the phone) and can't respond immediately?
This will happen. It always happens to me. I will have to make a phone call, and sure enough, someone needs something and starts to whine so I will listen. It is okay to point to the phone, put your hand up, and tell your child you need a minute to finish the call. Once you are off the phone, immediately address your child and their concern or need. Don't forget about them, and be realistic about your time on the phone. If you are going to be more than just a few minutes. Consider asking the caller to wait "just a minute" while you address your child. If you are going to be longer on the call, maybe finishing the conversation at a later time would be better. Asking a child to wait is realistic, but wait forever, is not.

What if I am talking to my spouse or another child?
This will happen also. In our house, it seems that the second my husband and I start a conversation, someone needs or wants attention and the whining begins. This is also normal. Young children especially, want our attention and when we are giving it to someone else, they will naturally try to get the attention back with them. Turn to your child and explain you are talking to "daddy". "As soon as I am done, you and I can talk." This teaches them manners. That you are aware of them. That they don't need to whine, that whining won't get them what they want, and that your spouse is also important. All valuable lessons for children.

Same rules apply. A minute or two of waiting is fine, talking to your spouse for 30 minutes while your child waits, is not.

Why do they whine? Children whine because they want our attention.

What can we do?
1. Point out the whining. Demonstrate what whining sounds like and ask our children how "our whining makes them feel", and then model the "right way" to communicate.

2. Make it clear that whining is not acceptable. Explain that you want to talk to them, but will not have a conversation until they use a normal voice. No Exceptions!

3. Stay calm when the whining starts and don't give in.

4. Consistency is key. Don't stay strong one day, and give in to the whining the next. 

Do your kids whine?
Does whining bug you?
Do you ever give in to the whining?


  1. I love your advice. It has been so helpful. Thank you for your wonderful blog. :)

    1. Hi Elyse and Steve, Thanks for saying hello. I am so glad the advice is helpful.

  2. Another hint from a former teacher and grandmother of nine – help stop whining in a fun way! Frequently it helps for children to be read fun-stories that illustrate the unpleasantness of bad behavior and ways to correct it. For instance, sometimes children don’t understand how annoying the sound of whining can be. "Peter and the Whimper-Whineys" is a story of a little rabbit who does nothing but whine. This rhyming book should be read with alternating normal voice and whining voice, according to the character speaking. Children learn that Whimper-Whineyland is not a fun place to be, not just for all the whining and crying that goes on but for all the other bad behavior and unpleasant character traits exemplified!!! My three year old grandson loves the book, and repeats “no more whining, no more crying!” I hope that this book might help your child as well as it has helped my children and grandchildren

    1. Sherrill,
      Thank you for your comment. Books are a very powerful way to teach and this sounds like a fantastic suggestion. I am sure readers will be glad to know about it. Love that your grandson chants, "no more whining, no more crying."

  3. Goodness this is timely. I am soooo sick of the whining! I'm starting to whine myself because it's ALL I HEAR ALL DAY LONG. UGH. Thanks for the tips. I never give in to whining and I always say "STOP WHINING!" but maybe if I said in a nice voice "Dude, you're whining again" that would help them identify it and stop?

    1. Oh Emily, Whining can do us all in some days. Be sure when it starts up you explain you will not be listening or responding until the whining quits. Your kids will learn really fast that they want your attention and have to stop whining to get it.
      Love that you don't give in. That's 90 percent of the battle. :) Hope your family is doing great.

  4. What about the whining and other undesirable attitudes while talking that children pick up from other children? when my daughter plays with a certain neighborhood friend, she comes back sounding just like that friend, and it's awful. we've had several talks, and it's gotten much better, but she still has to have a detox period when she comes home again.

    1. Kirsten, Great question. This is tough because our kids are going to have to deal with the influence of others their entire lives. We need to teach them how to make good decisions and behavior even when others are not, or don't. It sounds like you are handling things really well by communicating and explaining. That said, if the problem is bad, consider a new play mate for your daughter. There are a few friends that our kids no longer play with because of this problem.

  5. Great advice... I need to remember all those steps when my girls start whining.


Hi Hi! It always makes my day to hear what you have to say. Let's keep this conversation going. Thank you for your comments. Don't want to leave a comment here, email me at blog.familyvolley@gmail.com.

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