Monday, April 12, 2010

Whining Children?

The Question:

I just recently found your website and I love it!  I have already learned a lot.  I was wondering what you do about whining?  I have three children 6, 4 and 2 and our 4 year old is the worst whiner of the bunch.  Whenever they get told no about not getting to do a certain activity right at that moment or no they can't have a snack because it is almost dinner and every other time they get told "no" they start to whine, whine, whine and ask why.  There seems to be nonstop whining in our house.  How do we get them to stop and learn to accept that no means no and to move on with their day without whining about it?  


The Answer:
Dear Ashley,
I sympathize completely with you.  I just can't tolerate whining (or screaming).  I would start today to eliminate it.
I would begin to attack this problem by focusing first on myself.  I would be absolutely certain to never give in when they whine.   If your children are whining continually, there is a good chance that you are occasionally rewarding it.  They've learned that it's worth a try.
I'm sure that you've addressed the problem directly with your children.  It's always helpful to discuss these issues at a time other than when they are occurring.  Play a little game.  Have a cupful of Skittles and tell them that you are going to have a lesson about manners.  Have them ask for an Skittle politely and then give them one.  Next, have them ask and you say, "No, I'm sorry.  Not right now."  Teach them to say.  "OK, Mom".  When they get it right, praise their wonderful manners.  Do it again and again and then try some different scenerios.  Each time that you say 'no', have them say, "OK, Mom".  This teaches them your expectation and gives you a reference point when you experience an actual situation.  "Remember...what do you say when I say no?"  Of course they won't catch on overnight, but keep working at it.  I might even keep a jar of M&Ms handy and for a week or two and give them one whenever they say, "OK, Mom".
 Sometimes it takes very focused, concerted effort to change a bad habit.  But children usually respond well to positive teaching.  We occasionally go through a phase where it seems that everyone complains when I ask them to do something.  Then I know it's time to bring out the  "Sure" jar.  (It's especially impressive because the label came off of my deodorant so it looks very professional.)  I put in an M&M whenever I make a request and a child says, "Sure!" with enthusiasm.  When I feel that we've turned things around, they get to divide up the M&M's.  Maybe you could have an "OK, Mom" jar.
This advice applies to so many situations.  Just teach with a positive spin.  I predict your home will be "whining free" in a couple of weeks.  Or at least you'll see some serious progress.  Don't forget to pray for help.
All my love,


  1. Ooh, thanks for this advice, we've had the same problem around here. I'll have to give it a try.

  2. Great ideas! Ashley I just finished teaching my daughters joy school class and they are all 4! It is just the age! You are not alone.

  3. My four-year-old can pull a good whine fest too. I like the "Sure" jar idea--what a positive approach to the problem.

  4. Great ideas, Jane! Teaching and positive reinforcement can go a loooooong way!

  5. OH OH OH! GREAT ideas! I have been dealing with the whining issue as well over here!

  6. Wow... that's some of the best advise I've ever heard on that subject. Thanks. This is my first time to ever look at this blog and I can already tell I'm a fan.


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