Three Things to Try When Your Kid Whines

By Megan Stonelake

Recently in my house, there has been some whining. Until now, my six-year-old seldom whined. He seems to be trying it out in earnest now, so I’ve had to step up my game. I revisited some of my favorite resources, and I’ve been trying out different responses. Luckily, whining is a topic that comes up often in my coaching sessions with parents, so it didn’t take long before I had a plan.

Here are three suggestions to curb the whining in your house: 

1. Encourage a strong voice

Most of the time I can’t really even understand my son when he’s whining. So when his voice takes on that grating tone, I calmly explain that it’s difficult to understand him and encourage him to use his strong voice. I let him know that his words are important, and I want to make sure I can hear them clearly.

2. Be Playful

In his book Playful Parenting, Dr. Lawrence Cohen offers lots of great suggestions for responding to our children in a lighthearted and fun way. For some of us, being playful doesn’t come easily. And yet, play is the language of childhood. When we become too serious, we miss opportunities to connect with our children in a meaningful way. Not to mention that being playful can dissolve tension and remind us that we had kids to enjoy them.

For some of us, being playful doesn’t come easily. And yet, play is the language of childhood. When we become too serious, we miss opportunities to connect with our children in a meaningful way.

Dr. Cohen suggests responding to whining playfully, “Uh oh, we seem to have lost your strong voice! Where did we leave that thing? Maybe under the couch? No, not there. Behind the chair? Oh, here it is! Here you go, here’s your strong voice! Now, what did you want to tell me?”

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