Breaking Your Kids’ Whining Habit

You love your kids. You love their smiles, their laughs, their silly personalities, their missing teeth, and how no matter how big they get they always fit perfectly on your lap. What you don’t love is their whining.

There are few things that can get on your nerves more quickly and deeply than the persistent whining of a child who isn’t getting exactly what they want. You know what to do when your child is crying because they are hurt or upset; you offer comfort and lots of kisses. But what do you do when your child is whining? They are perfectly fine, no tears, no pain; just constant whining that makes you want to throw things.

If you are to the point that if you have to endure one more minute of whining you are going to run screaming from your own house, then it’s time to start getting serious about breaking the whining habit for good. Teaching your child to UN-learn any bad habit is challenging, but is even more so with whining; especially if their whining has always gotten them their way. Persistence and perseverance are key and while it won’t be easy, the whine-free days that lie ahead will be more than worth it.

Ignore it – Even If it Kills You

Even if it makes you want to kill them, just ignore it. Make it clear that you are not bothered or affected by it and that it has absolutely no effect. Whenever your child whines, do not respond at all. As soon as the whining stops, respond, talk, whatever you need to do. It will take some time but soon they will learn that whining gets them nowhere. This is much easier if you start when your children are younger, as are most things.

Do whatever it takes to remain completely unaffected by the whining, but remember to respond immediately as soon as your child talks nicely or just stops whining and moves on.

Be Sure They Understand

Just because you are constantly telling your child to stop whining or talk nicely, doesn’t mean that they actually know what that means. Talk to your child about what it means to talk nicely and be polite, and also explain why whining is unacceptable. With young children, you can even tell them that grown ups don’t understand whining, so they will have to find a better way to tell you what they need.

One way to make the distinction clear between talking and whining is to record your child on different occasions doing each one. Let them hear the difference. Kids generally want to do the right thing and they want to make you happy; they just sometimes don’t understand what it is that you want.

When you’re beginning your quest to break the whining habit for good, first make sure that your child completely understands, and go from there.


Too often, parents remember to let their children know when they have done something wrong, but forget to praise their good behavior. Children aim to please and they need to be told when they are doing well and have made you happy.

There is a theory that states that children hunger for attention so badly that they will get it in whatever form they can; even if it means getting into trouble. Take a look at yourself as a parent; do you generally ignore your children unless they are misbehaving? If so, you have taught them that the only time you are going to give them attention is when they misbehave and of course, whine.

Breaking the whining habit will need to start with you changing your own habits. Start completely ignoring your children when they misbehave and only pay attention when they are being good. Join them when they are playing quietly, praise them when they ask for something nicely, and make comments about all the little things they are doing well.

Praise goes a long way with children, and sometimes that’s all it takes to turn a bad habit into a good one.

Don’t Give Up

No matter how hard it may be or how many days in a row are spent with your kids in tears, just keep going. Once you’ve started towards breaking the habit, you can’t give up or you will just have to start all over later.

Praise your children and respond immediately as soon as the whining stops. Your response has to be instant so that they quickly realize the connection. It may take a few days or even weeks, but soon your children will learn that whining isn’t the way to get your attention and it will stop.

The whining may make some appearances every now and then but as long as you ignore it, the major habit will be gone. It’s really up to you, because the second you give in, you are right back where you started.

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