How can a sound as irritating as whining come from such adorable little people? It combines pleading, demanding, pestering, and
nagging, interspersed with sniffles and sobs. It escalates in pitch until
either the whiner wears out (this can take a long time) or the listener wears
down (this takes only a short time).
Why kids whine. Most children whine sometime between 2½ and four years as
they are trying out various voices for their effect on listeners. The reason
they stick with it so long is they often find it works like a charm. Depending
on the audience's response, they will either go on to develop more annoying
sounds or refine their tone to more pleasant speech.
Here's how to mute the whiner:
- Note what circumstances bring on the whine and keep ahead of your child. If
your child whines every time you get on the phone, busy her before you make the
call. If whining occurs when a child is tired or bored, correcting the
circumstances will correct the whine. Oftentimes responding promptly to your
child wards off a whine so that the child does not have to resort to an
irritating voice to get through to you.
- Don't allow the whine to escalate. At the first syllable, if you suspect
the whining tone of voice is coming say, "Stop! I don't listen to your nagging
voice," and walk away. Then turn around, look at your child, and say, "But I
listen to your nice voice."
- Try "This is not the whining room. If you want to whine, go to another
- Squelch whining at the first whimper, and redirect the child's voice to a
more pleasant ring. Otherwise, you run the risk of letting the whine wear you
down until you surrender -- a concession that only prolongs the whining stage.
Once the child realizes the whine will get her nowhere, it will stop. You may
actually wind up giving the child what she wanted once her nice voice comes back
and she can tell you her wish calmly and politely.
- Another way to win over a whiner is to change the subject. Keep on talking
and distract the whining child into other interests, "Oh, look at this pretty
flower. Let's see what it smells like." You're letting the child know that
whining doesn't bother you.
If whining persists, replay for your child how unpleasant it sounds, being
careful not to mock. Don't do this when you are both emotional. Do it at a
calm time. Whine back: "Which do you like, Mommy's sour voice ('I don't wanna
make supper') or Mommy's sweet voice ('Gosh, I'm tired. I could use some
help')?" Once your child learns that whining doesn't work (and her language
skills improve), whining will be a sound of the past.