What’s Behind the Whining

Doris Day once said, “Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty.”

We all know that it isn’t healthy to complain all the time, and we sometimes see our child’s whining as complaining. Most whining certainly sounds very negative, but perhaps there is another way to assess whining in young children.

Did you know a child often whines when he senses that his connection with his parent is broken or slipping? He is expressing that he needs YOU and that he feels powerless. He isn’t really THAT concerned about whether or not he gets the toy, the donut, or the soda. That’s why he continues to whine after you hand him what he requested.

How do you reconnect with your child?

1.     Make eye contact. Get on your child’s level whenever you talk with her. This makes her feel very special.

2.     Use your child’s name. Affectionate names are great at certain times, but always use his name when you are addressing an issue or making an important point.

3.     Touch your child. Never underestimate the power of a gentle, loving touch as you connect with her. Hugs heal. Gentle strokes of kindness soothe when words fail.

4.     Understand that the whining is a cry to connect and use words to tell your child how important he is to you. Even if your three-year-old doesn’t understand all the words, he will instinctively respond to words of affirmation.

5.     Stop what you are doing and give your undivided attention to your child. So often we give our children directions or words of comfort while we are doing 10 other things, which makes them feel that they are number 11 on our list of priorities.

6.     Set aside time each day to spend one-on-one time with your child. If she is whining, don’t focus on that. Focus on the connection between the two of you.

Every stage of development is filled with joys and challenges. Sometimes we think we know what our child is doing, but we get it wrong. A whining child is not trying to manipulate you or control you. Rather, he is letting you know that he needs to connect with you. He isn’t really complaining … he is crying out.

Written by Donna McClintock, COO with Children’s Choice Learning Centers, Inc.

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