Why it’s best to tackle whining!

whining kids

If you’ve been following along with the latest guest posts from Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz, one of our featured writers, than no doubt you are curious about more techniques to shut off or at the very least limit the WHINING! If you have a whiner (or are within earshot of whiner), than hopefully some of her tried and true techniques can help diminish the whining. If you missed her first post on the subject, be sure to check it out here!

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Are you tired of the whining? What do you do to keep it at bay?

I hope you’ve enjoyed this guest post from educator and Babsy B founder, Babs Bell Hajdusiewicz, Ms.Ed. You can look forward to a monthly feature post about A-Z parenting topics from Babsy B! Babs is a parent & new grandparent, a best-selling children’s author, career educator, and longtime consultant for schools, parents, and writers. And importantly, Babs is a former teacher for all ages and abilities and former school administrator!  Be sure to check out the Babsy B website to find field-tested books, prints, and other products.

Got a Biter? Be sure to read how Babs suggest we handle Bad Biting Behaviors!

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96 Responses

  1. Not having children I don’t really have this problem although I will bear some of these tips in mind when I am looking after my niece and nephew.

  2. You shared some interesting tips on helping stop whining in children. Children who are allowed to win by whining become problem adults so it is good to resolve this issue as soon as possible.

  3. I am soooo lucky as I never had a problem with this when my daughter was younger

  4. Keikilani says:

    I try to nip whining right away when it starts. I try to speak to them a better option of words and tone of voice to choose instead of whining. With 6 kids under the age of 8 whining is at the top of “get on my nerves fast” list.

  5. Pam says:

    Whining can be hard to handle and very frustrating. Thanks for sharing this, my daughter is about to have her first child and will need to know this.

  6. Agree – it is so important to stop whining as early as possible. What may be cute when kids are really little is annoying to everyone when they get older.

  7. I cannot stand whining….drives me nuts. So glad my grandkids don’t do it.

  8. My youngest is in this stage again. I have no idea what set it off but I have been hammering her ever time she does it. She knows that mommy can’t hear whining words so hopefully this goes by quick cause I am darn near drove nuts.

  9. My kids know better than to whine. They know I won’t answer them until they are ready to speak without whining lol

  10. Alicia says:

    I never tolerated whining from my boys when they were growing up. They learned quickly that was the fastest way to NOT get what they wanted. I didn’t have to raise my voice at all at them. By the time they were 3, they had stopped whining and begging almost completely – then came the teen years and we had to do it all again. LOL

  11. Kiwi says:

    Great ideas. I am not a mom now but it makes me cringe when I see whiny children in public…I am like omg what are the parents gonna do!

    • Babs says:

      Hi Kiwi. Thanks for your input and affirmation that it’s not enjoyable to hear whining. And good to share that so that we parents can work hard to use doable strategies that help our little ones cease whining or just not begin it at all! The eternal optimist and seeker of all things positive that I am for children, speaking here! LOL

  12. CourtneyLynne says:

    Now that my daughter is a tad bit older there is no whining allowed! She has to figure out how to fix whatever it is that’s bothering her.

    • Babs says:

      Hi CourtneyLynne. Thanks for your comment. Curious at what age, the rule applied in your home? Your experiences leading up to that may also be of help to others here. I like the requirement to problem solve. Mighty useful tool, problem solving. The younger we invite children to solve problems, the more resilient and resourceful they become.

      As I’d shared some months ago here, I’d noticed a parent’s ask of her infant, “How you gonna get it?” when a ball rolled under the sofa. Amazing to watch that infant (under age 1) plop onto her tummy and begin trying to reach that ball! One simple question can lead a child far toward independence and super problem solving skills.

  13. I don’t have kids but I used to work in a day care and we always tried our best to stop the whining. It’s counter-productive if we allowed the whining to continue.

  14. Jonathan says:

    It’s so important to get down on the child’s level and ask questions. Patience is key too. This is a great reminder!

    • Babs says:

      Good add-ons there, Jonathan. Thank you!

      Yes, patience is one of my favorite topics with children and adults, alike…as you’ll note in my THE BRIDGE IS UP! picture book [HarperCollins, 2004] available at http://www.babsyb.com and in your local school and library…and the song by the same name included on my new 28-track CD titled “TODAY’S SONG by Babsy B & Friends” to be released any day now.

  15. I used to whine a lot and now I see my daughter has it too. Karma. Lol… Now I know how it feels for other people.

  16. Theresa says:

    Great tips! Thanks so much for the advice. Whining is hard to handle at times, but I do like the idea to sing instead.

    • Babs says:

      Hi Theresa. Thanks for your reading and commenting. Yes, whining does not need to be an accepted behavior.
      To quote myself on this topic:
      “Whining allowed = whining out loud!”

  17. Bonnie @wemake7 says:

    My youngest is in that stage and actually unfortunately I have a older daughter that is that way too. Thanks for these tips.

  18. I have a pre-teen, thankfully I do not have to worry about it! I was never good when my son started whining!

    • Babs says:

      Our children do have a way of winning us over, even at times when our inner self is telling us to strategize in ways we know to be more effective. Your hindsight can be encouragement for others, Claudia,. Thanks for your sharing.

  19. Athena says:

    Great post. I can handle the yelling, crying, screaming, stomping feet and more. But the whining? Makes me totally want to curl up in a ball in the bathroom…

    • Babs says:

      I’m with you, Athena! I’m chuckling here to read your wonderfully descriptive feelings that, I’m certain, resonate with many of us parents. Thank you for sharing! Yes. Whining can be the most annoying of all behaviors our children choose to try out on us.

      Notice that “try out on us” verbiage there. Our children, whether our own or our students in the classroom, do try this and that behavior, seeking that magical behavior that “works” to get us to “shape up and fly right.”

  20. Ashleigh says:

    Once my non verbal son was able to have communication we were able to cut down on whining. There is always a reason for it but its finding out why and how to better translate it.

    • Babs says:

      Your comment is so on the money, Ashleigh. Thank you for sharing. Another reason to work hard to develop your child’s oral language skills via talking and reading aloud every day. Proof?

      Would you think an infant in their first 1/2 year of life could understand and respond to this question, “How big are you?” I’m here to tell you absolutely YES!

      I’d never had luck with that particular little arms-in-the-air-to-respond game with infants that young until calling on some help from my “SO BIG!” Babsy B Board Book. Amazing to witness such tiny ones tossing those arms in the air after reading the book for a few prompts. Book available at babsyb.com. Try it, and like Mikey, you’ll like it! Promise!

  21. This is a great post. I have a few friends that need to read this. I think it is important to stop whining behavior once it starts. I will have to share this.

    • Babs says:

      Hi Ann. Please do share, and let the blame fall on me. LOL Seriously. Thanks for sharing your need to share with a few friends. It brings us to the subject of how might one do that–share with someone a strategy–when you’re feeling they might benefit through greater awareness.

      As a teacher of many parents’ children, I’ve often used this lead-in at the slightest opportunity even remotely related to the behavior I’d like to address with the parent: “Speaking of [behavior]/That reminds me of–I heard a strategy recently that suggested [blah, blah, blah].”

      Importantly, we’ve not laid blame nor guilt because, honestly, who are we to judge another person’s actions?!

      We’ve merely shared an idea that WE found of interest. If our listener finds their own situation therein, YAY! If not, I repeat myself at the very next opportunity.

      Please let us know, Ann, how your listeners respond to your thoughts….

  22. Kathy says:

    This is a great idea. I never thought to do a sing song. I’ll have to try it next time for my girls. I don’t usually have to much trouble with whining. My girls know that they shouldn’t be whining about anything.

    • Babs says:

      Do let us know, Kathy. And plz share with us how it is that your “girls know that they shouldn’t be whining about anything.” What have you said or done that’s been fruitful in giving them that “knowing”? Strategies that work for one of us may well work for more of us…the more tools/strategies we have in our toolboxes, the more prepped and relaxed we can feel and respond to all things parenting!

  23. Krystal says:

    My kiddo is in a whining phase so these tips are helpful. It’s important to tackle whining early!

    • Babs says:

      Ah, right time and place for you and your need, Krystal! Thanks for sharing. Keep on sharing with us…the pro’s and con’s of each strategy you use. Will you?

  24. I don’t have kids but I love the idea of ignoring and eventually it works too!!

    • Babs says:

      So, if you were an observer of whining and could not exit promptly, would ignoring it suffice for you, Jasmine? Curious, we are, about how all types of observers view and respond. Thanks for sharing…please share more in-the-moment specifics, if you would. Thanks!

  25. Kristie says:

    I don’t have kids (yet), but I definitely don’t like whiney toddlers! Your blog seems like a great resource for parents.

  26. We experoenced this woit our son but we addressed it right away. If you don’t do anything whenit starts, it will get worse.

  27. Dogvills says:

    I never allow whining to win. I just ignore them until they stop.

  28. Rosey says:

    I do know a tantrum thrower who whines a lot, lol. It’s not my place to step in but I love that you’ve put this post up.

  29. Ignoring it is definitely not a wise move. You are right consistency is the key.

  30. I must be blessed because this has never been an issue with my daughter. OR, if it was, it was something that we nipped in the bud early on. I admit that my nephew whines … A LOT … and it drives me nuts. Now, how to share some of these tips with my sister. 😉 Thanks for sharing!

  31. Carol Bryant says:

    That would drive me up a wall. I often wonder if kids that whine become adults who complain all the time.

    • Babs says:

      Ah, interesting topic of wonder, Carol. Thanks for sharing that. Readers, please tell us your experiences, will you? Do whining kids become whining adults? Someone did suggest that idea earlier above. Let’s all explore it further…shall we?!

  32. ricci says:

    I can NOT stand whining!! When my nieces or nephews whine they are told to suck it up because I don’t put up with that business!

    • Babs says:

      So you work to nip it in the bud, Ricci? And it sounds like it works for you? I’ve not yet met one who CAN tolerate whining…from a child, an adult, nor a pet.

      Curiosity here: Who among you readers has a “No Whining Zone” in your home/presence?

  33. Christina says:

    Consistency is key! Any time you give in you’re only going to encourage whining. Great perspective!

  34. I love the idea of ignoring. That works for so many things. I still do that with my son!

  35. Elizabeth O. says:

    This is definitely helpful. It’s better to do something about it rather than just ignore whining all together.

    • Babs says:

      You do not find ignoring to be effective. I’ve not, either, though we’ll cover this strategy in a bit more length next month. Thanks, Elizabeth O.

  36. Miles L. says:

    Yep! Whining can be very annoying and it is a bad behavior. It must be corrected at a young age.

    • Babs says:

      Hi Miles. Thanks for your comment.

      Like last year’s four-part biting series, this whining topic seems to have struck a nerve with many of our readers.

      Miles, it sounds like you’ve had the experience of being around a whiner, in the least. It is an annoyance, and when enabled, becomes part of who that child is. Speaking of “who” . . .

      Who of us has met the child who is a joy to be around?
      And who of us has met the child who is a challenge to be around?
      Who of us has witnessed a child who’s a joy until the parent joins the child? What might that behavior change signify?

  37. Bri says:

    When my little cousins start whining I try my best to reason with them on a level that they can understand. It generally works, but sometimes I have to ignore them for it to stop.

    • Babs says:

      Hi Bri. Wondering, we all are, the ages of your little cousins. And what you are the words that you say as you use logic in talking with them?

      I hear you also saying you not only don’t tolerate whining, but that you find it unpleasant to be around whining children. We noticed this month the mention of the annoyance that others feel when our child is whining. We’ll discuss it more next month…the feelings of others when they must be around whining children who are not their own.

      Thank you, Bri, for your comment.

  38. Ana says:

    I don’t have kids. So I am not really aware about it. But hats off to all mom’s for tackling with all these stuff in spite of their busy schedules.

    • Babs says:

      Hi Ana. Had missed your note. Yes, parenting is not for the faint-o’-heart. Lots to tackle along this joy-filled journey that lasts a lifetime! And for us, now the grandgems = so much more joy! Thanks for your comment, Ana.

  39. Renee says:

    Ha. I have teens, thankfully I do not have to worry about this anymore. I never could handle whining!

    • Babs says:

      Hey Renee. Sorry for having missed your comment. Thanks for writing. And congratulations for having assured there’d be no adult whiners coming outta your house! Ha.

  40. Ariana says:

    I don’t have kids so I’m not sure what it’s like with them but I do have five dogs and OMG the whinning is ridiculous sometimes. I also have a coworker who is 10+ years younger who constantly whines and complains allll the time. I’ve tried telling her to think about the positive in her life and to not whine so much because it annoys the rest of our coworkers but it doesn’t always work 🙁

    • Babs says:

      Hi Ariana. Ouch to have a whining co-worker! And whining dogs! You’re surrounded, you are! Thanks for sharing your experience. Whoa!

      I can tell you that sing-songing works with my dog, as does “Leave it!” Hmm, wonder the effect of “Leave it!” on a whining co-worker! Worth a try?

      Glad you offer her your positivity. Another strategy I have used most successfully with adult and child whiners is to immediately say something I’m happy about or find pleasure in. Not only does it end the annoying whining; it distracts and moves conversation forward.

      I find I use that strategy often with adult and child complainers, those who try to share gossip, and with those who begin to judge behaviors of others. Wow, do I ever!! find ample use for statements like these: “Gosh, I’m choosing to avoid judging,” “I’d prefer to hear about something fun you’ve done today,” and “Bet you could tell me something really positive right now. What might that be?”

  41. I love Robin Rue’s idea of ignoring. That works for all sorts of things. It does!

  42. I can not stand whining. Of any kind! My kids tried it as toddlers and I just ignored them. Granted a few times I told them that I couldn’t hear them speak because this awful sound was coming out of their sweet mouths. ROFLMAO. It worked!

  43. Mira says:

    Whining can definitely be a STRESS for any parent. Babs looks like a great resource for dealing with just about anything parents might need.

    • Babs says:

      Hey, Mira. Sounds like our Babsy B team could use you! LOL Yes for deleting stress in our lives. Thanks for the vote of confidence and for sharing your thoughts, Mira.

  44. Tori Gabriel says:

    Oh my God! The whining! It sets my teeth on edge, especially as nine times out of ten they don’t know why they are whinging in the first place.

    • Babs says:

      Tori, I’m with you. Yes, children don’t know except that, in most cases, they do know it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard for us parents. Thus, our response is the key, for sure. Thanks for your comment.

  45. OMG this has to be a pet peeve for me. I cannot stand whining….we have a friend and their daughter seems to like to do this ALL the time. Drives me nuts!!

    • Babs says:

      Yes, Gloria, it does make for an unpleasantness to be around the whiner, doesn’t it. We will discuss what I a “healthiness factor” next month in our final segment of this series, Whining: Part 3. Who do we want our child to be? How do we want our child to be viewed by others? A whining child? Ouch! Thanks for your comment, Gloria.

  46. andrea says:

    it’s always better to stop it at the source – before it turns into something much worse

    • Babs says:

      You got it, Andrea. Thanks for reminding…I’ll never forget how simple it seemed, that one little annoying behavior of my own child or a child in my class…until that behavior continued as another annoying behavior was added! Now, we had two annoying behaviors with each needing its own strategic approach toward deletion. Yikes! So much easier to nip a behavior in the bud…otherwise, we have the stress of a whack-a-mole.

  47. Jonce says:

    I used the sing-song method and after only a few times actually ‘singing’ I found that if I hummed the melody, that the message was received. Good post.

    • Babs says:

      Hey, glad to hear, Jonce! Thanks for sharing your sing-songing experience. Yes, humming serves us well, as does whistling…for those of us who can perform that feat…

  48. Roxy says:

    I’m not a parent yet so the only whining in my house is from me and occasionally the dogs. What can I say, I’m an only child and used to getting what I want. lol


    • Babs says:

      Oh, Roxy, you’ve given us all a chuckle! Thanks for sharing.
      (Hey all, let’s stay tuned to hear from Roxy on this and many another topic if she chooses to become a parent. Eh?!)

  49. Jeanette says:

    In our house there is no whining. OK there is some but he knows he’s not gonna get anything so he quits pretty quickly.

    • Babs says:

      A-ha, Jeanette. You’ve found the power of consistency in your responses to him. We hope you will tell us more particulars about your behaviors that let him know “he’s not gonna get anything.” Go, Jeanette! You’re on deck…

  50. Monica says:

    I’m a Grandparent and learned early on to set the rules in my house. The girls caught on quick that that was not acceptable. It’s amazing at such young ages how quickly they catch on. Even with their parents around they follow the no wining rule. Thanks so much for sharing this post! I’m so glad to have the experts back me up here.

    • Babs says:

      Hi Monica. Good for you to have established the rules in your home and in your presence. Yes, infants even catch on quickly; they notice what works and what doesn’t.

      I’ve seen many a child begin to exhibit a behavior as their parents enter, though they know I do not tolerate that behavior. So, what does the child generally do? Looks to me to see how I respond. And typically, it merely takes a quick verbal or non-verbal reminder to the child…yes, in the presence of the parents…and the behavior ends. I’ve also turned away or begun talking to the parents as a reminder to the child. Children respect expectations when those expectations remain consistent. Good for you, Grandparent Monica! We’ve got your back!

  51. It’s easier for the mom to curb the whining, but (at least in our home) dad gives in and its hard to put an end to it without being the ‘bad’ parent so to speak. You just have to stick to your guns! ~ MS

    • Babs says:

      Yes, Kelli, it does seem that many families have a “good guy/bad guy” scenario going on with and around behaviors of children. The tough part is that it’s really challenging for children to receive mixed messages from parents regarding behaviors and expectations.

      I repeat myself to say that children look to us adults to know how it is that this world works. Our children believe we know it all…well, until they’re about ten years and then things can sometimes change up a bit…and we do know it all.

      It is, after all, our world we bring children into. It is our world we introduce to our children. Thus, it goes without saying that children expect us to show them the way to do this or that and how to think and feel about this or that.

      We have total influence as we act out life before our children’s eyes and ears. If they live with kindness, they give kindness. If they live with shouting, they shout. If they live with love, they love. If they live with conflict, they feel conflicted.

      Philosophically speaking, a lotta separate issues and concerns for future discussions…stay tuned. Thanks, Kelli, for sharing your heart with us.

  52. There is ZERO whining allowed in our house. You face what’s in your way, and you find a way to resolve it. You don’t complain and make everyone else miserable.

    • Babs says:

      Hi again, Stacie. Not sure what happened to my reply so if anyone finds it afloat in cyberspace, please redirect it to Stacie here.

      As I was saying, er typing, Stacie, zero tolerance brings on zero whining in your home. Can you share with us some particulars, as in suppose your eight-year-old begins to whine unhappiness about the dinner foods served. What do you, the parent, say or do in response? Or your three-year-old is tired and begins to whine about nothing in particular and everything in general. What is your response, as this child’s parent, that results in zero whining in the home?

      Not intending to put you on the spot, Stacie. Merely asking if you might share with everyone here how and what you do in response to that whining that works so well to squelch it in your home. We thank you, in advance!

  53. Robin Rue (@massholemommy) says:

    I put up with NO whining. Whenever my kids did it as toddlers, I just ignored it and eventually they stopped.

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