It’s Not Fair!

young child worried

Is your child’s whining driving you to distraction?
Here are some tips that will help turn whiners into communicators.

Whine Facts:
Whining is a natural consequence of children having less control over their lives than they would like. Knowing this may help you feel more empathy for your child and make whining a little easier to tolerate.

Whine Prevention:
Head off whining by checking in with your child: “Are you hungry? Would you like a snack?” This way you’re coaching your child on how to identify needs so she can ask for help instead of whining. Another prevention tool is to let your child know what to expect: “When we go shopping today, I will not buy you a toy.”

Whine Decoding:
Learn when a whine means “I’ve reached my limit” versus “I’m trying to manipulate you.” Manipulation is natural, too, and you don’t have to give into it.

Riding the Whine:
You’ve decided it’s manipulation and not a legitimate need or request. Here are two ways to ride out the whine:

Coach: Communicate a more effective way to get your attention: “I don’t want to listen when you talk that way. I’ll be happy to talk with you when you stop whining.”

Limit: Set a limit on the number of questions you’re willing to answer. When you’ve met the limit, close the conversation. This only works if you stop talking!

Let ‘Em Whine:
It’s only natural for your children to want things and get upset when they don’t get them. Consistent, fair parenting is guaranteed to make you unpopular at times. So relax and know that you’re just doing your job.

You may reprint these tip sheets, free and without special permission, provided that you include the following copyright statement: © King County Library System, Parent Trust and Washington State PTA.