Home > Behavioural Problems > Children and Whining

Children and Whining

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 26 Jan 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Children Kids Whining Whine Reasons

Whining sometimes comes naturally to children, much to the chagrin of most parents. Having to hear complaints, particularly when they are drawn out in a high pitched voice, accompanied by tears or whimpering, is never fun and when it carries on consistently often begins to grate on adults’ nerves.

Why Kids Whine

Kids whine for a variety of reasons. Sometimes children whine because they want a particular item that is off-limits to them, but just as often there is more going on in the background than just greed or desire. Common contributors to children’s whining include:
  • Physical discomfort including exhaustion, hunger or thirst.
  • Attention seeking from a particular adult, even if it means negative attention.
  • A means of expressing anger or frustration, for example when holding a grudge.
  • Dealing with confusing emotions such as jealousy or a desire to compete.
  • An attempt to control a situation or person over which they feel powerless.
  • A coping mechanism to dealing with life changes such as a death, divorce or remarriage.
  • They are unable to identify their own feelings and so can not adequately act upon them.
  • They have learned that whining works and they will get what they want.

Responding to Young Children’s Whining

Young children often lack the vocabulary necessary to articulate their needs, even if they know what their needs are to begin with. Whining then is a defence against this frustration, a way for young children to seek attention in an attempt to communicate a need or want. Sometimes young children won’t even be aware that they are whining until someone brings the way they are speaking to their attention. Responding to the whining of young children, then, should begin with telling them that you don’t like how they are communicating. Mimic their tone if necessary to give them an example. Next, ask what it is they want and why they want it. Finally, explain why you can or can not fulfil this need right now and what the two of you can do together to make them feel better.

Stopping the Whining of Older Children

Older children tend to know what they are saying, and maybe even how they are saying it, but that won’t necessarily stop them from whining. If you recognise the particular signs your child gives before whining or a tantrum starts then you may be able to stop it before it gets out of control. Rewarding a child, for example with a small treat for getting through an afternoon of errands, may be enough to stop the whining as may the promise of “points” towards a larger treat at a later time. The exact opposite strategy, taking something away or forcing children to “forfeit” something when the do whine, may also work to stop whining. If your child still whines, taking them to a private place to ask them more about how they are feeling and why they are acting in such a way could be an option as well.

Children naturally whine, this is a truth with which parents must become comfortable. Yet just because children whine doesn’t make it acceptable or appropriate, so understanding why children whine and how to stop the whining of both younger and older children is important for adults dedicated to changing this challenging behaviour.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Hi Angie, My daughter and her two kids are living with us until my daughter finishes up her Masters degree. My granddaughter is 5 years also and we were also having the same issues so we have been on a strict schedule with her because we’ve tried several different things and this seems to work for us the best. Bed Time is at 8pm we give her choices she gets to pick one b4 bed a story or something she enjoys every night only if she is behaving. You can’t let them listen to your discussion regarding what to do with their behavior because they are very smart so everyone (adults) have to stick together on a regimen (plan of action) boy since we’ve been doing this we’ve noticed a big difference in her behavior thank you please, I love you, I enjoy spending time with you, these are all the things that she says and the whining has decreasedsignification, also keep reminding them to use their words and express what they’re feeling instead ofwhining because you can’t understand them make sure you look them directly in the eyes when you’re talking to them you can’t be distracted with other things going on in the room you have to be patient and just really understand what is bothering them sometimes when thewhining has gotten too bad or out of control give her a 5 minute time out in her room and then come back and talk about it. Quality time is essential everyday one on one set this time aside just for them even if it 10mins they need it go for a walk, ride his bike anything. Sometimes kids get anxiety too and need to exercise or do something. Hope this helps. Kind Regards, Cari G
Gammy - 26-Jan-18 @ 9:58 PM
What was the reply to lady on 5th May 13 @1.40pm??? My son is exactly the same! Any advice greatful. Thanks nikki
nikki latham - 27-Feb-16 @ 10:47 PM
Hello I have a 5 year old boy, who is so naughty, he is alway's moaning, shouting, talking, will not do what he is told, don't listen, shows no respect to anyone, answers back and is really rude to me his mum, his dad even more so. He will not except any form of punishment what so ever, nothing seems to bother him. I can take his sweets, TV, Computer, friends away but he carry's on reguardless. Thinking of taking him to the doctors but don't know what to do. My husband and I are at a stage where we are arguing about our son and he hears this and that makes him more powerful. At the moment we are at our whitsend. Thank you and looking forward to your comments Angie
Angie - 5-May-13 @ 1:40 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • MaryN
    Re: Questionnaire: Does Your Child Have ADHD?
    My three year old doesn’t sleep at night till 3 or 5 am, he has no sense of danger, he get distracted very…
    23 May 2019
  • Sez
    Re: Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
    My 7yr old daughter is well behaved in school and for friends parents but the second she walks into our home or is with…
    8 May 2019
  • Samantha cole
    Re: Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
    Woody, my 12 year old is exactly the same. He has just gone for me agoer I asked him to take a shower and has blamed me…
    23 April 2019
  • Miss Sunshine
    Re: Children and Pinching
    My brother is a pincher. He's 42. He pinches my 6 year old son if he doesn't follow rules. I told him to stop. He said it was nothing.
    21 April 2019
  • Ryerye
    Re: Children and Body Rocking
    I have the same problem me reading this helped much understand a lot more I am 12 and I hate the feel of paper and dry objects I still…
    5 April 2019
  • Divamum
    Re: Positive and Negative Reinforcement for Good Behaviour
    I think this article is unfounded and poorly written. Since when do parents have ‘job…
    4 April 2019
  • Ann
    Re: Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
    My son is 8years old he has always been different i had a emergancie section with hm i cat even sit with him he pnches me…
    4 April 2019
  • Marian
    Re: Children and Pinching
    I know a girl who pinches at 15 what can I do ? I was thinking cutting limbs off but I thought that was unethical.
    29 March 2019
  • Sookie
    Re: Children and Body Rocking
    I rocked a lot until I was 18 years old. It was so soothing. I rocked so hard my mother had to tell me to stop. I thought I had a…
    29 March 2019
  • Jacko
    Re: Children and Hitting
    My soon to be 7 year old son hits class mates been reading up on his behaviour an "symptoms" of his behaviour dont really count in his case…
    6 March 2019