Why children whine and how to gently stop them

Don’t be afraid to hug.

Why children whine and how to gently stop them

Whining can drain the energy from even the most patient mother. In our house, it's the five o'clock hour each evening. Like clockwork.

I usually find myself in the kitchen piecing together a meal that will magically meet the nutritional needs and taste preferences of children and adults alike. Simultaneously, my children find this to be an opportune time to exercise their vocal range and refine their nonconformist negotiation strategies.

And by that I mean, it's time for whining.

As parents, we know there is nothing quite like the sweet sound of a small child's voice. Whether she is just learning how to speak or he is fine-tuning his conversational skills. We relish in the burgeoning ability to communicate.

That is, until we get hit with a case of the whines—not to be confused with a case of wines (which might feel like the obvious solution to this cringe-worthy phenomenon).

Whining is a form of communication. Children use whining in an attempt to get their needs met. Sometimes these needs are straightforward, like "I want to wear my purple dress for the 5th day in a row." Other times, whining is a camouflaged way of communicating less obvious needs like attention, hunger, and sleepiness.

When communication in your house takes a turn for the whines, you need to have some tools to reign it back in.

Here are five ways to gently manage it:

1. Give hugs freely.

Whining makes me want to scream at my kids, but instead I choose to hug them. Because as mothers, we need to be the thermostat rather than the thermometer. That means we have to set the temperature in our home, rather than react to it. By choosing to hug my kids instead of scream, my whole demeanor changes. I soften and relax. As a result my kids do too.

Don't be afraid to hug. Instead of setting the thermostat to cold and angry, choose to set it to warm and calm.

2. Self-reflect.

Pause for a moment of self-reflection: How often do your children hear you whining?

Your whining may be setting a precedent for this behavior in your home. So if you find yourself whining about all the whining in your house, dial it back.

3. Teach gratitude.

We ran out of milk (again). Cue the whining—my kid likes milk with her dinner. So we don't have milk, but we do have clean, fresh water. If she's feeling lucky, I might even squeeze a little lemon in there. Life isn't about what we don't have, it's all about seeing the beauty of what is right in front of us.

How can we model gratitude for our children?

4. Role play it.

When it comes to changing behavior in young children, we need to focus on teaching. That means skip the requests to "stop whining" and replace them with constructive, concrete examples of what to do instead.

When kids whine, give them an example of how to use proper language and tone to communicate effectively.To learn how to communicate better, we must give our children the skills.

5. Acknowledge without enabling.

Whining can be a cry for attention, sleep or hunger—and our kids need to be heard. So it's important that we acknowledge and tune into these words and feelings. Yet we need to refrain from trying to right all the wrongs in their little worlds.

My go-to for this is to get down at kid-level to make eye contact, then use the words, "I hear you, it sounds like that makes you really bummed out." Then we move on.

We might do a quick role play and practice a better way to communicate, or lay on a heavy dose of hugs and gratitude. And if it's sleep or food that they need, it's my job to help make that happen. Even if they can't communicate the need for it.

So if you are dealing with a case of the whines, know that you are in good company. As parents, when we want to cut back on whining, we need to lead by example. That means reflecting on our own words along with practicing a better way to communicate with our kids.

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They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

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Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

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Plan Toys balance board

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Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

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Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

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Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


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