WHINING - When and How Will It End!?!

Updated on July 01, 2010
D.M. asks from Littleton, CO
13 answers

Our daughter is 3.5. She's very verbal and energetic - some would call her spirited. We are struggling with her behavior -specifically whining... when we ask her to come to dinner, she whines; when we ask her to clear her plate, she says her hands hurt (while whining...); when we tell her not to talk to us "in that tone" she whines more.... I've tried "not hearing her" until she uses her big girl voice (25% improvement); we've tried time outs - she doesn't stay put, so she goes to her room - then she'll come out and tell us "it's mean to put her in her room alone". I feel at a loss for what to do to make her express herself more appropriately and teach her this important lesson. Any techniques that WORK..... 2 hrs til bed time..... thanks
Oh, and please be honest, but constructive as to HOW, I'm asking for the help : )

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Santa Barbara on

If you don't stop it now...oh my... you may be sorry. I used to talk to my son in the same voice as he was using when he whined along with the not hearing him and that seemed to break him of that as a habit. He does whine every once in awhile still and I whine right back and he immediately changes his tone of voice.
Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful

More Answers


answers from Philadelphia on

Keep up the, "I will listen when you can talk to me in a voice that I can understand." I have said, "Use your calm, constructive communication." (A 2.5 year old that I nannied for learned what that meant.) I would model what I wanted the sentence to sound like, and then until I was spoken to that way I would just say that I do not understand and go on with the daily business. (Use a neutral tone. No smugness here)I would be reassuring that I really did want to have the conversation.
As for her hands, if they hurt she can sit and rest at the table until they feel better and she can clear her plate. Keep at it and do not respond to her until she speaks in her normal tone. Leave the time outs out. Some kids focus so much on being mad at you, that they loose the lesson.
B. Davis

Because nothing is more important than family

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Colorado Springs on

Treat it as the game it is! At the moment it's a game she's winning, so why should she quit? Your bright, beautiful daughter whines because it works, it's fun, it gives her power, and it gets a rise out of her Mama and Daddy. Two-year-olds say NO and throw things - remember? Whining is what four-year-olds do. It's part of their job description.

Do you have to play? No! You're the grown-up. You can make up a new game. You can inform her the whining game is over. Yes, you'll have to tell her, not just start in. Before that, however, figure out what will best make her decide that her game isn't worth playing. Loss of TV shows or dvds? Loss of time at the park or with friends? Decide the consequences of not coming to dinner without whining - eating in the kitchen by herself? If she whines during dinner, is dinner over? (She won't starve.) If she deliberately talks back to you - which is what she's doing when you tell her not to use that tone and she whines anyhow - what is the best consequence? I can't help you with this because I don't live at your house!

You'll have to give careful thought to this and stick to the game plan, no matter what; you may find it inconvenient at times, but look at it as important education for your daughter. It's SO much better to handle this now than let it slide until she's a dramatic, stubborn, whiny teen.

When she starts doing her drama bit, you want to act quickly with the consequence (that's why you need to have thought it out thoroughly first). Be friendly and firm, and don't use too many words! She doesn't need a lot of explanation; she needs to listen to Mama and do what Mama says - which, incidentally, is the new game. Doing it Mama's way gets smiles and hugs and a little (not overmuch) praise! "Oh, Mama has a better game after all (she thinks); my whining isn't so much fun any more."

Expect this to take time - she'll try to keep having her way, of course - and expect a somewhat bumpy road. To cheer *yourself* up, stop at your nearest library and find Betty McDonald's "Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle" books. Your daughter isn't old enough for them but you might get a good laugh out of 'em, and maybe you need one right now! There's one story about a girl who plays the game of "I'll do it because I want to but not because you tell me to," which is related to the one your daughter is playing.

(P.S. Just read through the other answers, and you've got some great ones! I'll underscore a point many of them have made: never give your daughter something she whines for. She should never get a reward out of her unacceptable behavior!)

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

Over and over I recommend the book Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child. I think every person who reads it and applies it will benefit and so will their kids.

Whining can be a phase, and a frustrating one, and at this age kids are trying all kinds of new things to get what they need and want. I think your best bet is to be consistent but also empathetic and firm. Empathetic and firm sound like they should contradict each other, but they don't have to. Your daughter wants to be heard by you for whatever feeling she is having and that gets lost in the whining. It's like the whining tone starts and WE end up turning off or tuning out, which is frustrating for the child too and perpetuates the whining even more.

I would tell her that you want to hear what she's saying but you can't hear her when she whines. Ask her to use her regular voice to ask for or tell you what she wants. Be firm yet caring in your tone and don't get frustrated or angry with her. Don't give into the whining and make sure that Dad and all the caregivers are on board. Somewhere along the line whining has worked for her.

It won't go away overnight, but it will end if it no longer works for her.

Good luck!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Whining is part of their tests for you on what works. Don't let it work. A good answer on how to do that is below by Mary R. If you are completely consistent, it will be over sooner but I'm not talking about a week or even two. It will go on forever and get worse if you don't though; I can promise you that.

And don't let her get by with interruptions when you are talking to other people. But tell her a few times you'll answer her when you get through talking and then try not to let it drag on and on. That's rude too.

Just don't let her be the boss of you. Make it clear that you are the loving, firm leader of the pack (and daddy too if there's one in the home).

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Whining is the worst behavior! We had a neighborhood full of little girls at one point. The whining was the biggest complaint that we all had about them from age 2 -5..

"I cannot understand your words when you whine."

"You need to use your regular voice."

"Go to your room and find your regular voice. "

Do not give your daughter anything she asks for in a whining voice.. EVER~

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

My DD is also 3.5...she,too, whines(or, used too)...I do not do the whole "I cant hear you when you whine" business, nor do I do time outs, punishments, etc. I think when you give them more choices, it feeds their whining. My dd did about a months worth...until...I looked her straight in the eye, said "hey!!!", somewhat stearnly...and said simply, in a strong voice..."stop it!!"
You see, they will try and take over...you just cant let them.
Like my Momma always says, "you cant outsmart a 3 year old, there's somethin' wrong with YOU"
I say "them" because they are crafty little creatures...give 'em an inch and they'll take a mile!!! DONT UNDER ESTIMATE THEM!!!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

It's a normal phase. And it is tiring. And when we're not happy with what we're being subjected to, we whine to other parents about how awful it is.

I know a common "solution" is to discipline harder, and/or to ignore the behavior more consistently. I've watched a lot of families over a lot of years, and this seldom appears to result in a happier child who's less prone to whine. And if often deteriorates into even greater unhappiness in the child, which keeps reemerging as whining.

What would you do if you heard that you don't have to punish your child for being irritating, and that another approach will get you where you want to be without anger and frustration, and that both you and your child will feel closer and happier for trying it. Would you be willing to give it some attention?

With my daughter, and now years later with my grandson, I stop and listen, and empathize sincerely with what they want. As amazing as it seems, once a child is satisfied she's been heard, she'll make her own transition into a happier mood, without even getting what she was whining for. Not 100% of the time, maybe, but 70% is really something, and getting back to family peace is, to me, so much happier than having to come down hard on a child. In fact, at 4.5, my grandson seldom whines. He seldom needs to, because he knows the adults in his life take him seriously and care about his feelings.

This is not wishy-washy stuff, it's effective and transformative. It just happens to also be kind. I've found a wonderful book that's helping me polish my willingness and ability to empathize: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen, and Listen So Kids Will Talk.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Fort Walton Beach on

Consistently tell her that you do not understand what she is saying. Act like she is speaking a foreign language. You have to both do it over and over and over again on EVERY whine. And keep saying over and over and over again that you do not understand her until she can speak clearly. Just remember that you will only respond when she speaks clearly. She will understand after a while that you really don't understand what she wants or is saying.

Good luck ;)

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Toledo on

My little one will be four in August. We have the whining problem ugh. I tell my little one "don't whine to me...just ask nicely" and she has learned that whatever she wants I am not getting up until she stops whining. And I know with mine, she whines more when she is tired.
Best of Luck

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

Treat this simply and seriously of it's important to you-which it seems to be. We had it on our list of Big Time No Nos right up there with tantrums, defiance, aggression, etc. We knew it could grow out of control if we let the habit develop. Nothing is more annoying than whining. Our kids are spirited too, but that doesn't mean they are allowed to ignore the rules.

We told each child at the very onset of the whining (around 2-ish) not to whine. We explained calmly that if they whined, they would have a consequence. When they continued to whine, we told them calmly one more time, not to whine or they would get a consequence. When they continued to whine, we gave them a firm swat to the bottom and made it sting. We didn't get mad or yell, we moved on with the positive day. After a few more times, they stopped after a warning, and now at 4 1/2 and 2 1/2 we have two cheerful non whining non tantruming mature kids who wouldn't whine if we let them. If they start to whine from hunger or tiredness, we just give them a "Hey" or "the look" and they control themselves.

Keep it brief and consistent. Don't ever ignore! If you waffle at all she'll gamble for the times you don't do anything or do something meaningless like a time out. I would discipline for scolding me about the time out if I used them (which is why I don't bother with them-they enable too many other wrong behaviors and too much time wallowing in negativity). The more serious you are the quicker it is. Don't give ten warnings, or she won't react until your tenth warning. Remember, when she's not whining, she'll be cheerful and talking properly. It's not mean to be strict. Good work acting before the habit is even harder to break.

We had to be consistent for a few episodes, but I know people who have been consistent with "reminding and modeling how to talk" for years and still have whiners. At three your daughter may need more than just a couple of times, but she'll learn quickly if she knows you mean business.
Good luck, your daughter will be happier when this is not an issue anymore.



answers from Denver on

Often times children latch on to a "bad" behavior because it is successful in getting them what they want. The most effective way is to be super tough for a week or two and not reward the behavior with any sort of attention (negative or positive). Where there is no longer any sort of response to the behavior it should disappear as she will be searching for a new way to get what she needs. eg- only react to the behaviors that are desirable- do not give in and reward undesirable behavior with any sort of attention. *this method, of course, does not apply to children who get physical with adults or other children.



answers from Colorado Springs on

Another solutions is to have her repeat what she is saying without whining. Have her keep saying it until she says it a few times without whining, everytime she whines. Be consistant. When she whines respond the same way everytime. Good luck

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions