The secret no one ever told you to get your kids to stop whining

Have you been trying this? Number three is especially important.

When raising young kids, whining usually comes with the territory. Whether it’s having to go to bed at a reasonable time, getting two scoops of ice cream instead of three, or being forced into that slave labor parents like to call “chores,” children use whining to express their discontent. Unfortunately, the tone of that expression can cause parents to respond with anger, or by ignoring the child altogether. It’s important, however, to understand that there are things parents can do to prevent whining in the first place, and most of them involve teaching children by example to communicate.

Teach responsibility

Everyone must learn responsibility sooner or later, and the sooner parents can teach their children, the fewer whining episodes they’ll be forced to deal with. For example, if a child begins to whine about why he or she has to do chores, instead of growling “Because I said so,” parents should take a moment to help the child understand that it is important for everyone in the family to contribute. Parents should also consider giving children an allowance for chores that are done properly, showing them that being responsible for things in their stewardship is rewarding.

The same goes for homework. For example, parents already know that playing with friends is much more desirable than doing homework. But children may not yet understand that taking responsibility in their homework will prepare them for success later in life. It’s up to parents to help their children learn to manage homework time and play time and to ensure ther children are doing good work rather than just the minimum to get by.

Don’t give them everything they want

Children who are used to getting everything they want usually have a hard time understanding when a parent suddenly says no, causing them to whine in an attempt to get their way. This can be avoided by managing their expectations and teaching them to be satisfied with what they have. This can be difficult, as all parents want their children to have a better childhood than they did. However, it is essential to understand that “better” does not necessarily have to mean “more.”

Do give them your attention

Most kids make whining a habit when they don’t feel like they get the attention they need. This problem can be solved by parents giving their child’s questions and predicaments their undivided attention. They should take the time to understand why the child is upset and should avoid treating him or her as a nuisance. Additionally, parents should be sure to also give their kids their undivided attention at times when they aren’t in crisis mode, otherwise children will come to realize that the only way to get the attention they want is to throw a fit.

Be fair

Children don’t like it when they feel someone is being treated better than they are. This includes when parents hold themselves to different standards than they hold their children. Instead of expecting children to do all household chores, parents should work alongside them. In addition to making their children apologize when they are rude or dishonest, parents should do the same when they mess up.

If discipline is needed, parents should ensure that the punishment fits the crime. For example, if a child tries his or her hand at recreating the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel on the living room wall with crayons, taking away the child’s crayons for a week would be a more fitting punishment than taking away television time for a week. Furthermore, parents should avoid doling out punishment arbitrarily or out of anger. In all things, it’s important to remember that discipline is meant to help a child improve, not to make a child pay.

In all of this, it is important for parents to remember that their children are simply that — children. While they are incredibly impressionable, they are still developing mentally, emotionally and socially. Whining is generally an automatic reaction to the discomforts and inconveniences of their young lives, and they often don’t do it purposely. Having a proactive parent instead of a reactive one can help a child to be directed in the correct way to communicate his or her problems before they become crises.

Ben Luthi

Ben lives with his wife, Kilee, and dog, Paisley, in Arkansas. He has a passion for personal finance, sports, and learning. Ben recently started a blog at where you can find more of his opinions on personal finance. His life goals are to write about personal finance all day and start a non-profit organization to help others become self-reliant and to find their true potential. On any given day, you could find him eating homemade salsa, picking blackberries, or staying up until 3 a.m. to finish a book.