How to Get Your Preschooler to Stop Whining
Most parents find it annoying to hear their child whining. However, there are ways to help your child get over the habit.
By Arun Sharma • 7 min read
Whining is common among children. Whining begins once children learn to talk. In fact, it is one of the ways they try to communicate with their parents. Children can whine for several reasons, for example, hunger, pain, or bad mood.
While most children get over the habit of whining once their language skills improve, some persist with the habit. If you are the parent of a child who whines, follow our tips to help your child quit the habit.
- Find out the triggers: Whining can be triggered by various reasons. Try to find out what causes your child to whine. Do certain circumstances trigger the whining episodes? Does your child whine only when you are around? Does your child whine about something in particular? Such questions can help you narrow down on the reason(s) behind your child’s habit. This will also help you prevent such conditions from arising and prevent your child from whining.
- Explain whining: Telling your child to ‘stop whining’ may not have the effect you expect, as your child may not understand what ‘whining’ really is. So, explain to your child in age-appropriate language how whining sounds. You can do this by pointing it out to him when he is whining or by imitating a whine and making him understand. This will help him differentiate his whine from his normal voice and dissuade him from whining.
- Connect with your child: One of the main reasons children whine is to seek attention. You must understand that when your child begins speaking in a normal voice and then changes over to whining, it means that she feels ignored. Try to connect with your child and address her needs. Usually, just listening to what she has to say, giving a hug, or saying something to soothe her nerves would do the trick.
- Do not give in: When your child begins to whine after you have said ‘no’ to any of his requests, it doesn’t mean that you should give in. Encourage him to speak in a normal voice by saying something like, “I can’t understand a word of what you are saying. Please speak in your normal voice.” Alternatively, you can also ignore his pleading until he begins talking in a normal voice. But, while you are doing this, stay calm and composed, and when you address him, use a kind but firm tone.
- Compromise at times: While it is important to not give in to unnecessary demands of your child, you should also know when you can be flexible and grant some of his wishes. For example, if your child wants to play a few minutes more with his friends or wants you to read him one more story before bedtime, you can give in at times.
- Teach language skills: Language skills of children are not developed enough to help them express their feelings. As a result, they resort to various other means, one of which is whining, to convey what they want to. Building your child’s vocabulary to help her express her emotions and needs will help cut down the need for whining.
- Stop it before it begins: Do not ignore your child’s attempts to seek your attention for so long that he is compelled to resort to whining. Nowadays, most parents handle multiple responsibilities and lead busy lives. As a result, some parents get into the habit of not listening to what their child is saying and responding only after either the child has spoken a few times or changed his tone. Parents with such a habit unwittingly encourage their child to pick up the habit of whining.
- Be a role model: Overcome by stress, sometimes, parents forget how they should behave. During such times, they raise their voice and repeat their words, which sounds very similar to whining. Avoid doing this. While it may be difficult to practise, try to stay calm and speak in a neutral tone even when under stress. Remember, your children follow the example you set.
Punishing a child for whining or giving her a time-out may stop her from indulging in the act of whining, but it may not make her change her habit. Therefore, it is necessary for parents to be patient and persistent in their efforts while trying out the above or other strategies.
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