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Parenting Q&A: Is There a Way to End My Daughter's Whining?

Parenting Q&A: Is There a Way to End My Daughter's Whining?

Q. I have a five-year-old daughter who is eager to please, but whines when she doesn’t get her way. It drives me nuts. Do you have any tips on how to get her to stop?

A. Daughter’s whining drives mom crazy — that sounds about right to me. Now multiply it by one hundred and you have adolescence.

Remember Pavlov and his dogs? It’s conditioned responses. She has discovered if she whines you react and she gets attention. Strange as it seems, even negative attention is positive attention to a young child. The solution? Stop reacting. Be aware of your voice tone and body language when she gets the pitch that makes your hair stand on end. Take deep yoga breathes and “under” react. Learn to softly and calmly say things like, “I can not help you when you talk in that voice. When you talk in your regular voice I will listen.” Do not ask her to stop — tell her to stop. Let her know you are done with her whining and she needs to find another way to communicate with you.

To see the rest of Lonna's answer,

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Get down on her level, make eye contact and calmly let her know that whining will not get her what she wants. Also, carefully assess the situation and the triggers for the whining. Is she tired, hungry, over stimulated? It is helpful to acknowledge her feelings but not react. Say, “I know you’re hungry, but the way you are asking me for food is not ok with me. Find another way to use your words.”

After a few days of not reacting she will stop whining. Think of yourself as a slot machine. If you react to her every whine, fit and crying tantrum you are paying off in large amounts of coins and she will continue to play you. If you become the slot machine that never spits out quarters, she’ll stop playing.

— Lonna Corder

Parenting expert and Montessori school director, Lonna Corder has been doling out advice for 25 years as a teacher, parent/child consultant and on television. For more information, visit lonnacorder.com.

If you're at your wit's end about an issue and want another take on the situation, private message your question to lilsugar. We'll be running this feature all week!

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Join The Conversation
RenSis RenSis 7 years
My best friend tried that with her daughter and it still didn't work! Her daughter would sit and whine for literally HOURS! No matter what my friend did or didn't do to get her to stop whining, nothing worked. Finally my friend set up a camera on her when she was whining and recorded her for at least an hour. When her daughter got done whining my friend made her sit in a chair and watch the entire video of herself whining. Now all my friend has to do is get out her camera and her daughter will straighten up real quick! I would definitely try Lonna's advice before going to such lengths but if all else fails it's worth a try!
macgirl macgirl 7 years
I did that trick with my son using baby talk. When he was like 4 or 5 he just would occasionally use baby talk and it drove me crazy. I just played dumb and said "what? I can't understand what you are saying when you talk like that". I never thought of using it for whining, awesome advice.
lickety-split lickety-split 7 years
and notice what sets her off more, like being tired, running to many errands in a row, etc.
Kimpossible Kimpossible 7 years
I also agree. And have one more tip as well. When your daughter is whining for something tell her to sing her request to you. She will either laugh and change her attitude or she'll look at you like your crazy. Of course follow through and have her sing instead of whine. It shouldn't take more than once or twice of this request for her to change her behaviors. As with anything else with parenting consistency is key.
ladyr ladyr 7 years
I agree with Lonna
Mel475 Mel475 7 years
I agree - it's what I thought of when I was reading the letter and it's what I do with my 3 1/2 year old. He gets the idea pretty quickly and changes the tone of his voice almost immediately now. He knows that we won't speak with him until he stops whining. Usually all that it takes is a gentle reminder and he quickly switches gears.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 7 years
I agree with what Lonna said. good advice.
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