Whining is a habit your child developed over time, and it will take a little time to break it. But, don’t despair; you can stop your child’s whining habit. Here’s how. Notice when she whines and choose your response. Changing the pattern of whining begins when you change how you respond to it. When you notice her whining, call her attention to it. Whining has become an unconscious habit by the time she reaches elementary school. She needs to learn to recognize it first. Some strategies you can try are:
* Purposeful ignoring. You can even say “I’m ignoring you when you use your whiny voice. Try again in your normal voice and I’ll pay attention.”
* Whine back. Use a bit of humor to cue her to notice her whining by showing what a whiny voice sounds like.
* Stop her immediately when she whines and say, “Do you hear that you are whining? Tell me the same thing in your normal voice.”
* Tone of voice is the hallmark of whining, but the child’s reaction to being told ‘no’ is another component of whining.
She needs to learn a new habit to replace whining, so help her learn the right approach to asking for what she wants. Asking politely is an important social skill that you can teach directly. To teach a child to accept ‘no’ for an answer can be more of a challenge. I like the approach from Common-Sense Parenting. Teach your child to:
Stop and look at Mom or Dad.
Stay calm. Do not argue or whine.
If you disagree, discuss it later, calmly and in private.
Reinforce non-whining. Focus on the problem for 2-3 months, and thereafter if the habit creeps back. Notice when she asks politely and when she accepts ‘no’ for an answer without whining. Praise and reward her to reinforce the new learning. When she does whine, pause, look at her, and call attention to the whining if necessary. Help her think through what she should say and how to practice the new learning. Watch your own whining too, so that social learning doesn’t overcome your efforts to break your child’s whining habit.
– Kimberly L. Keith