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How to Stop Older Kids From Whining

Updated on July 10, 2007

Maybe you didn't quite nip out that whining when your kids were younger, or maybe it's just the way things go, but older kids do their share of whining too.

Why Do They Whine?

It's no secret that whining is universal. We parents do it often enough.

Why do I always have to do the dishes?

Can't you pick up your backpack this once?

Do I have to go to work today?

We're all a little spoiled and when we get hungry or tired, it spills out. Ask a kid to do something he doesn't feel like doing and you'll open the floodgates of whiningyou're your child may just be whining out of boredom. Whatever the reason, how you react is the determining factor on whether or not the whining continues.

Stop That Whining!

By the time your child is in elementary school, he's probably got whining down to an art form. Depending on how you handled earlier episodes, he'll either be whining all the time, or only when he really wants something. I'm convinced there is no such thing as a whine-free child, as there are no non-whining adults. It's all a matter of degree. You and your child negotiate just how much whining you can handle.

It takes patience to correct whining, but consistency is your best bet. Just as with a toddler, a perfectly reasonable response is difficult to argue.

I can't understand you when you whine. Please speak in a normal voice.

Unlike toddlers, older kids know when they're whining. And they've figured out your limits. They will push just beyond whatever you've set before to try to get what they want. This isn't particularly manipulative behavior, it's kids' stuff - human nature. Your child needs boundaries and it's your job to create them.

Stand Your Ground

There are all sorts of ways to discourage whining. You can use a ‘time out' to show the child how whining results in isolation. Maybe you want a penalty such as losing a favorite toy for a specified period of time. Some parents have their child put money into a "whiny jar". You are the only one who knows your child's "currency". In other words, get him where it hurts!

The gold is in the follow-through. In other words, talk is cheap and consistency is key. If you say you can't understand the child, but then you comply with the whiny request you're defeated. Keep repeating your wishes until the child speaks in a normal tone. You will only have to go over and over it the first few times. Once the child understands you're serious, she will adjust - if you're lucky. The younger you start the better.

Ignoring a whining child is not going to scar her for life. If the request or complaint were truly urgent she'd be screaming instead of whining! You can always send her to her room. Stand up for yourself and just say no to whining!

Reinforce the Positive

We cannot praise our children too much as long as it is genuine. Your praise should reinforce the behaviors you want repeated. Asking for something in a pleasant tone of voice is something that will serve your child forever. Make sure you notice the things he's doing right and you're sure to be rewarded with more of it.

More Reading:

How to Stop Young Kids From Whining

Attachment Parenting and Discipline

How to Teach Kids to Listen

Breast Care 101 for Nursing Mothers

All About Kids' Website Club Penguin

Lela Davidson is a mother, writer, and home-businesses woman with more than her fair share of experience with whiners. Learn more here.


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  • Elyse Eaton profile image

    Elyse Eaton 8 years ago

    I admit to not being as consistent as I should be with this issue. Whining drives me crazy. We actually have a sign in our house that says, "Thou shalt not whine." The kids think it's funny that I insisted on buying it and posting it.

  • profile image

    tutor1235 10 years ago

    Great suggestions! Thanks!

  • Lela Davidson profile image

    Lela Davidson 10 years ago from Bentonville, Arkansas

    Great idea!

  • Dalene Entenmann profile image

    Dalene Entenmann 10 years ago

    Lela -- Great topic. The sound of whining is like fingernails down a chalkboard. I do not know if this will help any other parents, but I solved the problem of whining by simply and consistently not responding. It's like arguing - it really takes two or more people to keep anything going.

    How did I manage to ignore it? I stared at the whiner without facial expression or response. I did not do anything else but look at them and listen until they stopped. I gave them my utmost and full attention, only they never got whatever they were whining about. If it was getting out of a chore, at the end of whining I calmly asked them to do the chore. If it was something they wanted and I had said no, after they expended all that energy on getting me to say yes, and finding out the answer would still be no, they gave up. Once they learned whining would not get the desired results ever, my kids gave up on using it.