Whining is the “nails on a chalkboard” in a caregiver’s life—– am I right?! And it can be for everything from broken crayons to dinner time woes.
So, I wanted to share a few tips that have seemed to help and take the edge off a bit and reduce the whining (read- whining still exists in our house but it’s not near as intense).
*I’m no expert, just sharing what’s worked for us 🙂
** Also your child may have legit sensory processing difficulties or true anxiety that’s driving some of their whining so don’t hesitate to seek out a pediatric occupational therapist, pediatrician, or counselor for advice on strategies to make certain tasks more tolerable.
So there’s several types of whining
- Something isn’t possible
(i.e. internet isn’t working so they can’t stream a show, the park is closed for construction, their friend is sick and can’t come over, etc.)
- They want something but now isn’t a good time
(like a treat, show, activity, etc.)
- They don’t want to do something
(take a bath, put on their shoes, pick up their toys, chores, etc.)
Here are my 3 go to phrases for reducing the whining……… BUT before that, I have a super quick pep talk.
……… YOU HAVE TO STAY CALM ………
Think about what you’re modeling to them if you loose your cool when they whine….. instead, have a contest with yourself to see how calm and normal you can be while they whine to show their whining doesn’t control you.
Ok pep talk done! Here’s the THREE phrases that have worked for us 🙂
“The Next Best Thing” (when something isn’t possible)
“Trust Me” (when now’s not a good time)
“Try Again” and/or “Let’s Talk it Out” (when they don’t want to do something)
We use “The Next Best Thing” when something isn’t possible. Life happens, as a kid and as an adult, so saying “The Next Best Thing” turns a negative into a positive. There are still so many other options out there, so let’s think of the next best: show, toy, activity, park, etc. rather than focusing how something isn’t possible. (This has helped me personally reframe my own thoughts).
So here’s how it plays out:
We use “Trust Me” when they’re begging for something: dinner riiiiiiiiight nooooooww, an extra cupcake at a birthday party, to stay longer at the park, that toy at the store, etc.
There are times when we just can’t get what we want, and it all comes down to trust. Do our kids trust that we have their best interest in mind? I often have my daughter repeat “I trust you” after I say my reason for not doing what she’s begging for. For example with the dinner time woes:
We said all this even when she couldn’t talk much or for that matter understand the word “TRUST,” but over the years she’s learned that trust mean’s that I as a parent, do what I say I’m going to do.
Here’s a great link to my friend Jordan Harrell’s blog on trust for her kids, and herself.
We use “Try Again” & “Let’s Talk it Out” when the whining doesn’t stop or if it doesn’t fit into one of the above categories.
Here’s how it plays out:
“Try Again” lets them know that you’re interested in what they have to say, but will only hear it when they’re using a calm voice
“Let’s Talk It Out” communicates partnership and looking at all the angles of a situation. This let’s them know the “why” behind your decision making.
- Your child’s blood sugar may be low, a snack may be just the thing they need
- “Give the Why” – Your child, especially toddler, understands more than you think; giving them the why behind your decision or request helps develop their problem solving skills.
- Give a really bad option and then an option you’re ok with; for example:
KID: Buuuuuuut I waaaaant marshmellowwwwwwws for my snaaaaaaack….
YOU: I know, but you’ve already had too much sugar today, we need to eat something healthy so we can be strong. You can have _______ or no snack. I’ll let you choose.
- “Big Picture“- so yesterday I talked with my friend Chanda who has been a mom for over a decade, and her kids range from teenage to newborn, and I love what she shared about bringing her kids back to the big picture of why she’s asking they do something.
For example, when helping her kids clean their rooms she asks them these questions:
- Would you want to invite your friends into your room right now?
- Are your toys in a safe place (so the dog or younger siblings won’t break them)?
If she keeps getting push back, she brings them back to their purpose in the family.
- We all need to do our part to make our house a safe and fun place to live
- You have a place here, we want you here, we need you here.
Here’s a summary pic that you can screenshot to your phone or print out to hang up around the house 😉
So there you have it : ) What are your go to phrases to help with whining?
Have tips that help you and your family?!
Help us all out and email them to firstname.lastname@example.org!