6 Great Ways to Respond to Kids' Whining

Whining, it turns out, is deeply ingrained in children's behavioural repertoire and is a common part of child development. Kids, especially young ones, often use whining as a way to communicate their needs and feelings. It's not about manipulation - it's their way of reaching out to you for attention, comfort or assistance.

What makes whining so effective is its innate ability to annoy. It's like nails on a chalkboard! A study led by Dr. Rose Sokol-Chang, a researcher who delved into the realm of whining, discovered that whining is uniquely distracting. Participants in her experiment made more mistakes and had difficulty concentrating while listening to whining compared to other sounds, even a baby's cry. In essence, whining is your child's sonic weapon to seize your undivided attention.

Researchers have found that babies may develop a whiny type of cry as early as 10 months, but full-blown whining doesn't truly kick in until they start speaking. Whining typically peaks during toddlerhood but doesn't completely vanish with age - adults have been known to whine to their partners too! Even baby monkeys understand that an annoying noise gets them a faster response.

Sometimes, those sweet little voices we adore can turn into persistent whines. While it might seem like kids have a knack for pushing our buttons, let's explore some positive strategies to respond to whining without feeling overwhelmed. I found these ideas on Instagram a wee while ago. In the moment I often get frazzled and forget what to say, having this saved to my phone is like a little cheat sheet I can pull up and use as a script, you may like to do something similar.

1. Stay Calm and Empathetic: Whining can leave you questioning your sanity, but it's essential to remain calm. It’s going to be very hard to help a child regulate their emotions if we’re dysregulated ourselves. Sometimes it’s helpful for some people to have mantras: “This is not an emergency. I can stay calm here. My child needs me.” Taking a deep breath is often helpful to calm yourself too.

2. Restate their need back to them in a calm voice: "You want more water. I hear that."

3. State and hold the boundary: "We can't go to the library this morning. I know you're disappointed and wish you could go."

4. Give them two choices: "We can't eat ice cream for a snack. Would you like a muesli bar or cheese and crackers?"

5. Allow for disagreement: Hear them out even when you both know that you ultimately have to stick to what you think is best as the parent.

6. Lean into humour: "Whoa! How did that whine get in here? That is SO weird. Did you misplace your kind voice again? Let's look for it behind your ear!"

Remember, whining is just one phase of childhood that, like most things, shall pass. By responding with patience, empathy, and clear communication, you can navigate the whining storm and emerge with a stronger parent-child connection. Your calm, your understanding, and your unwavering love will be the guiding light in helping your child learn more effective ways of expressing their needs. So, take a deep breath, put on your parental armour, and conquer the world of whining - one understanding response at a time. Your child's future self and your sanity will thank you for it!

Tania of LMB

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