It’s the squeaky wheel that gets the grease or so the saying goes. This certainly applies to kids who whine. Parents, desperate to put an end to the annoying behavior, oftentimes give in, setting themselves up to endure even more whining.
“Whining in kids is so prevalent because it works,” said Geoffrey Putt, PsyD, director of parenting and family support services at Akron Children’s Hospital. “As soon as they learn how to communicate with you, children figure out the most effective strategies to get what they want. Often that strategy is whining.”
Consult any parenting book about whining and you’ll likely see the same recommendation – ignore it and it will go away. But Dr. Putt recognizes that’s easier said than done, especially as the whining gets louder and lasts longer.
“As parents, we’re conditioned to respond to a crying child, so when we hear baby talk or whining, we want to fix it,” said Dr. Putt. “And as hard as it may be to ignore a whining child, you must do it consistently if you want the whining to stop.”
Is your child a whiner?
Follow these 6 steps from Dr. Putt to put an end to this annoying behavior, while teaching your child the appropriate ways to express what she wants:
- Get really good at planned ignoring. Do it well and consistently, otherwise you’ll undermine your efforts if you eventually give in.
- Give your child concrete examples of how to ask for something without whining. Model this behavior in your own interactions with others.
- Pay attention to positive behavior. As your child starts to break the whining habit and asks for things appropriately, praise her.
- Use intermittent rewards to recognize good behavior. Rewards are not bribes and can be very effective motivators.
- Have consequences for misbehavior.
- Don’t give in when the answer is “No.”