Write me: rebecca@positive-parents.org
*The following is an excerpt from Positive Parenting in Action*

Whining can really grate on a parent’s nerves. Why? Dr. Laura Markham of www.ahaparenting.com tells us: “Because whining is your little one’s more mature form of crying. She’s letting you know she needs your attention, and human grownups are programmed to react to whining as much as to crying, so the needs of tiny humans get met. So the minute you hear that whine, you react with anxiety. You’ll do anything to stop it. But if you can take a deep breath and remind yourself that there’s no crisis, you’ll feel a lot better, and you’ll parent better.”

Most positive parenting experts will advise you to simply ignore whining or tell the child you will not respond to a whiny voice. Ignoring a behavior doesn’t address the issue or teach better skills. Children may whine for all sorts of reasons, and their whining may actually be a cry for connection or help with something, such as pent-up emotions. As always, meet the need behind the behavior if you can discern what that need is, and the problem will resolve. However, if you suspect that your child is just whining because she thinks you’ll give in to her requests, there are some things you can do.

1. Be sure your child is getting lots of positive attention from you without having to seek it. If your child’s cup is full, whining is less likely to be an issue.

2. Some children whine because they feel powerless or unheard. Make sure your lines of communication stay clear and that your child knows she is a valuable part of the family and her needs matter. Give her choices throughout each day to give her some control.

3. Teach your child negotiating skills. This will alleviate the powerlessness that often causes whining and teaches your child a crucial life skill. Teaching her to control her emotions, state her need/want in a respectful manner, and work to find solutions that will satisfy everyone’s needs will serve her well as she grows.

4. Remain empathetic with your child’s experience, but don’t give in to whining. 

5. Teach your child the difference between a strong voice and a whiny voice. She may not even be aware she is using a whiny voice. You can do this by role-playing or using puppets or toys to show the differences between the two tones. Tell your child you can understand her better when she uses her strong voice.

To show courageous love during whining:

1. Deactivate the your whining trigger by using positive self-talk. “She’s my child and she needs me to teach her patiently.”

2. Don’t shame him for whining. Don’t call him names such as “the whiner.” 

3. Discern what’s causing the whining and address the underlying issue. See this post for more help.
How do you typically address whining now? Is it with courageous love or conditional love? Write down coping skills in your journal if whining is a trigger for you. Think of the times your child typically whines and see if you can pinpoint the underlying issue.


Read the post that inspired the Love Courageously challenge.

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