I love my kids to no end. But, there are days where a whiny voice can really drive me up the wall. I would have to say it’s one of my parenting triggers. I can handle hitting, tantrums and meltdowns. What I really can’t handle too well, is whining and overall rudeness. It’s my weakness. I have tried different ways to stop whining in kids, and have found one that really helps.
I have decided to tackle it in the gentlest way possible, which can take a lot of patience.
But, this one trick to stop whining in kids actually works for us, and I hope it does for you too!
One Trick to Stop Whining in Kids
In case you don’t make it through this article, I’ll tell you here, but read more to really get a sense of why this works.
SHOW your kids what whining sounds like.
What do I mean by ‘show them’? I literally mean to act out a whiny voice and a polite voice. There are a couple of ways to do this.
Let’s say your child really wants a toy that their sibling has. They look at you and with that pouty face that we all know, they exclaim in their whiniest voice “I wanted that toy.”
Here is what you can respond with:
I know you really want that toy, it must be so frustrating to have to wait. But, what sounds like a nice way of saying that? “I wanted that toy (whiny)” OR “I really wanted to have a turn with that toy (nice voice)”.
Now, this is the SUPER important part about this, you do not want it to seem like you are making fun of them. You are not mocking them, you are teaching them.
If you have a sensitive child, and you feel like they would take offense to this in the moment, practice it in play. My 3 year old and I play a game with dolls, we play ‘Rude or Nice‘. One of the dolls (me) will speak to her friend in a whiny voice and I ask my daughter “did that sound rude or nice?”. She responds with pride in always guessing correctly, and learns what it actually means to whine or have a rude voice. Then, I give her the chance to practice her rude (whiny) voice and her nice voice. This really helps her understand what it means to use your voice and intonation to get your point across nicely and politely.
Why does this work?
When we use phrases like “stop whining please” or “tell me in a nice voice” we aren’t actually telling the child what we want from them. It seems like we are, because we know what it means to whine or speak nicely. But, do you know who doesn’t? Our kids! Until we show them that is.
The idea behind this is very similar to why saying ‘calm down’ to kids doesn’t actually help kids who are upset (see alternatives to this phrase here, they work too!). When we tell them what we want them to do, as opposed to what we don’t want them to do, and we teach them how to do it, it is a recipe for success.
Because here is the thing, kids want to please us. They want our approval and they want to make the right choice. This is difficult for kids because they don’t always know how to go about this. The answer really is that simple. We just have to show them 🙂
Asking our kids to use a nice voice or to stop whining doesn’t give them the tools to carry out that request. Showing them how you want them to talk, and what a whiny vs. nice voice sounds like, does give them the tools that they need. Act this out with your child in play, show them, and allow them to practice a whiny vs. nice voice. They will catch on quickly, and this one simple trick really will stop whining in kids…or at the very least is should help. Kids are still kids, and that’s ok 🙂