Whine, Whine Go Away

Not long after your child starts walking and talking, chances are he will probably learn to whine. Maybe he'll even learn to follow you around the house, whining all the way. Just a "Mommy" in that plaintive, nasal tone can be enough to send shivers down your spine. The thing about whining is that it is practically impossible to ignore. And that, of course, is why kids do it. They want your attention, whether the attention is good or bad. The challenge then, is to help your child learn how to get your attention without also assaulting your ears. The flip side of that is learning to give your child the kind of attention they crave before they have to start whining. Here the parents of Parent Soup - the #1 place for parents online -- share their tips on giving kids alternatives to whining.

"My daughter developed a whining problem after our second child was born. I came to the conclusion that I really wasn't paying enough attention to her with the new baby around, and she didn't know how else to get my attention. I had my husband take the baby one evening and she and I went out to a nearby bookstore alone (she loves the children's section and we both love to have a snack in the espresso bar there) and we had a talk. I told her that her whining affects me like the sound of a loud passing truck affects her -- I want to cover my ears. I told her I love her and don't mean to not pay enough attention but that her sister needs attention too. We talked about ways to improve things since both of us were having many bad days. She thought she could try to say 'Mommy I need your attention' instead of whining and I promised to try to give her attention when she said that phrase. It really helped! For us, talking about it with our daughter so that she feels we are really interested in what she's feeling and finding ideas for coping works!"


"We have designated the very small bathroom on the first floor as the 'whining room'. Whenever my son starts to whine I tell him that we don't whine out here, that he may go to the bathroom and whine all he wants. I modeled the behavior for him a few times (walked in the bathroom and whined and stamped my feet). He thinks it's so funny! So now I just ask him if he'd like to whine in the bathroom and he'll go in there and whine for a few seconds and then come out smiling."

"The only sure fire thing we've found to stop the whining is distraction. Tonight I was trying to make dinner after a longer than usual day at work and my daughter was moping around the kitchen just whining away. I could feel my blood pressure go up. My solution was to talk daddy into playing basketball with her in her room. When they came out for dinner she was much better."

"My son was 1-1/2 when he began to whine. I immediately informed his caregiver (his Grandma) and we agreed to say, 'Sorry, that is whining. I can understand you better when you ask nicely with a please.' This worked well because it my Grandma and my husband and I were all consistent. He rarely whines, but that response still works and he makes a supreme effort to ask in a normal voice with a please."

"My sitter helped with the whining problem. She taught my daughter the 'No Whining' rule. Now, if my daughter gets whiny, I remind her of the rule. If she keeps it up, she gets time-out (2-3 minutes sitting quiet with her hands in her lap). The hands in the lap works wonders for some reason!"


"I do let my children whine a little bit. (We all need to whine a little, don't you think?) Then I tell him 'I'm so sorry that I can't understand you when you are whining.' Most of the time he'll stop whining and use this really cute Big Deep Voice. But sometimes lately he says, 'But I like to whine.' The first time he said that I had to bite my tongue to not laugh. Then I usually tell him, 'OK, but just for one more minute.' Since he doesn't know how long a minute is I'll let him get out about a sentence and then viola! The minute is up. This usually works. It hasn't happened overnight. In fact, it's taken months of being consistent with my responses."

"When my daughter starts whining, I try to nip it in the bud by encouraging her to sing to me if she wants my attention. I tell her 'I can only hear songs right now!' Once she starts singing, the whining tone and attitude goes away. I sing back a response to her and we're both giggling by the end."

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