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How To Stop Child Whining Without Gimmicks or Tricks

Whining is obnoxious but it doesn’t have to drive you crazy or have the power to send you into a frenzy. With a few no-gimmicks steps and some intentional parenting, you can stop child whining in its tracks… or better yet before it even starts!

It’s simpler than you think. No bribes or tricks. Just simple cause and effect.

A family member once told me how pleasant my small children were to be around because they didn’t whine. I smiled and thanked him for the compliment, then chuckled a little. I laughed, knowing, “didn’t whine,” doesn’t mean “never whined.”

little toddler girl crying who needs to stop child whining

You know what whining is like? It’s like when you’re baking and begin to see smoke billowing out of your oven. Whatever was hiding in the bottom of your oven begins to burn, and as smoke seeps through, you know IT is coming!

The awful smoke alarm. You hate that sound! So you rush to the smoke detector with your dish towel and start waving like crazy. Hoping to stop the awful noise or make it go away as quickly as possible.

Just Make The Whining Stop

That’s why child whining is a behavior that rarely gets properly trained. Parents just want the awful nails-on-a-chalkboard sound to stop. So they do whatever is necessary to make that happen, which is actually a mistake.

Whining is a true lie. You believe that because whining is something every kid does and is to be expected, that it can’t be helped. So, you unknowingly keep the behavior going instead of stopping it.

Why is this a true lie? First of all, whining IS something every kid does and it is to be expected. That’s the true part. However, believing that it cannot be stopped is the lie.

It’s no wonder moms fall into the trap of doing whatever they have to, to get their children to quit whining. The sound becomes an alarm. An alarm designed to get a response from you.

Why Do Kids Whine

Kids whine because it works.

Kids get really good at knowing just the right sound to make to get the desired response. The sound that you hate enough to “do whatever – just make the whining stop.”

Is it too late to change your child’s whining? No, never.

Is it too early to be concerned with whining? No, never.

When the kids and I received the compliment I mentioned earlier, I kept wondering if the compliment giver understood that my kids didn’t just pop out of me without the ability to whine?

Did he know that it wasn’t dumb luck that they didn’t whine? Did he understand all the training I’d put into their communication skills?

Regardless of whether this person was congratulating me on my good luck, or my parenting, makes no difference. The great communication skills our children will benefit from, when we are intentional to put a stop to child whining is all that really matters. Those skills will provide a positive ripple effect for the kids – that’s what counts.

How To Stop Child Whining

#1. Don’t respond to whining.

If your child whines, it is because he gets something when he does it. The something he gets could be anything from an exasperated sigh from you, to a cookie. It doesn’t matter, he’s getting something. If he wasn’t he wouldn’t be doing it.

This is like a muscle that gets stronger with practice. Practice not responding to your child when he whines. Replace frustrated remarks with phrases such as, “I can’t understand you when you talk like that.” “My ears don’t work with the sound you’re making.”

The flip side to this is to be intentional to respond positively every time your child says something in a pleasing way. Make a big deal out of these moments. Use phrases like, “You spoke that SO well!” “Great job communicating! I’m able to give you what you need because your voice sounded nice.”

Use these phrases whether you believe your child understands them or not. Understanding comes over time. Don’t withhold intellect.

#2. Train correct and acceptable tone.

It’s easy to get caught up in being annoyed with whining and not consider the need to train the alternative. Whining happens because it accomplishes a result for the child.

Spend time intentionally training him the right words to say and the right way to say them. Then only respond to the correct words and tone. For example: If he wants a cookie, say: Joe, you must say, “Mommy, I’d like a cookie please!” (model the correct tone of voice for him) Coach him this way a few times, then expect him to do it himself. When he whines, simply say, “I can’t understand that voice.” And do not respond in any way until you get the words and tone you require.

If you follow through with not producing the result the child is looking for from whining and instead provide the desired result when the voice you desire is used, you’ll be training your child to use the correct tone of voice and subsequently stop child whining in the process.

This creates pathways in the brain which prompt the child to use language correctly.

Breaking a bad habit (whining) and creating a good habit (correct tone and language.)

#3. Train him to ask only once.

Mom. Mom! Mommy. Mom. Momma! Mom. This is a funny inside joke among moms. However, the truth is, allowing this behavior is teaching entitlement. Your child must

understand his needs are not always the most important or the most urgent. For example: When he calls for you this way, stop him. Say, “Joe, you must say Mommy one time and wait for me to answer you. Let’s practice.” Then walk him through it, holding up your hand at the point at which he should wait for you to respond. Allow 10 seconds to pass, then say, “Yes, Joe, what can I do for you?”

#4. Train him to answer you appropriately.

“Yeah?!” or “What?” are not appropriate ways to respond to your mother. I spent my entire youth responding to my mom this way, and I would have been much better off had I received some firm correction. It took me a long time to understand respect for authority, which caused problems at work and other areas of my life. For example: When you call your child’s name and she responds to you with the wrong words, say, “respond to me with a ‘yes ma’am’ or ‘yes mom’” (Whichever you are comfortable with. We use yes ma’am.) Call her name or ask your question over and over until she gets it right.

#5. Evaluate and practice your own tone.

Use storytime, how you respond, singing, and any other opportunities to model good language skills and tone.

Reading aloud is proven to improve language skill, better cognition, as well as many other important brain development.

These opportunities should also be used to model good language and tone by giving the hero in a story the vest tone of voice.

For instance, if there is a good kid in a story you are reading, be sure to read his parts with the kind of voice you’d like to hear from your child.

Stopping Child Whining Doesn’t Require Gimmicks.

Be intentional, take responsibility, take authority and take action. They say a ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And it’s true. Except with regard to raising kids, then… an ounce of prevention (training) is worth a TON of cure (behavior correction.)

The good news is it’s completely doable. No “heavy lifting” required. No gimmicks or tricks or bribes. Just a few intentional steps and one committed mommy!


Hi there! I'm Mama Duck,

I'm a stay-at-home/work-at-home, homeschooling Mama of 4 beautiful kiddos, wife to my loving husband, Parenting Coach, Speaker, and Writer. I adore the sound of my children's giggles, that first sip of hot coffee, and a snuggly blanket fresh out of the dryer. Here on Faithful Parenting, my heart is to equip mamas with the skills, knowledge, and biblical wisdom to raise fantastic kids and build a tethered family!