Dinner Without the Whine

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02 Oct 2013

pouty kid whineI was with my friend and her family the other day. Her daughter whined, “Mommeeee, I want to go home.” She said, “Allie can you change your voice, can you ask in a regular voice for what you want?”

In an instant, Sara restated her request in a non-whiny voice. She said in a grown up way, “Mommy, I want to go home.”

Whining is one of those behaviors that drives parent’s crazy.Whining is one of those behaviors that drives parent’s crazy. The best way to stop the whining is to do what Sara’s Mom did. I liked her approach a lot. Instead of saying to Sara, “Stop whining!” she had taught Allie how to modulate her voice and that she was capable of improving her behavior.

If that doesn’t work for you, there are other effective ways that we can help kids to stop whining.

We can:

1. Name their feelings:

“Sara, it seems like you want my attention. That voice that you are using lets me know that you need me right now. Can you use your regular voice to say, “Mommy, I need your attention!”

2. Gently tell your kids whining bothers you:

“That voice is hurting my ears. It is hard for me to hear you when you use that voice.”

3. Declare “whine free” zones:

“Today we are going to ‘Fun and Stuff’. In order for us to have a good day, we need to know that there will be no whining. If you need to whine, save it for tomorrow when we are at home.”

If they do whine at “Fun and Stuff”, you can say, “Remember today is a “whine free” day. Tomorrow is when I can listen to whining. Today you have to use a regular voice the whole day.”

4. Catch them being good:

When they are not whining, praise them for using a regular voice:

Instead of:

“Finally you guys are talking normally and not spending the whole time in the car whining!”


“I appreciate that you are using your regular voice. It is a pleasure to be in this car!”

5.  Play “Get the Whinies Out”

When your child is cranky, either tired, hungry or both, you can help them let off steam by letting them whine for a specific amount of time.

You can say:

“You seem so sad and you need a way to get all your whinies out. How many whines do you think you need, 4 or 5?”

Let them whine for that many times,

“Okay, you have 5 whines! Let’s make them good ones! You want to make sure you get all of the crankiness out of you! Let’s get started now!”

After about 2-3 parent supervised whines they have had enough and  there good mood is often restored. 

6. Give yourself a break:

I know that sometimes I can handle massive doses of whining and other times even the slightest squeak can send me over the edge. Make sure you let your kids know what kind of mood your in:

“Right now I can’t listen to any whining at all. Please change your voice or ask for what you need in writing.”

Whining is tough to handle. It can rattle even the most effective parents. The suggestions above can help you limit the amount of whining you need to deal with in your home.

Adina Soclof, MS. CCC-SLP, works as a Parent Educator for Bellefaire Jewish Children’s Bureau facilitating How to Talk so Kids will Listen and Listen so Kids will Talk workshops as well as workshops based on Siblings Without Rivalry. Adina also runs parentingsimply.com

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.