How to Make Your Child Stop Whining and Complaining
(And Save Your Sanity)
Does your kid seem to whine literally every single time they’re talking? Or complain about everything they’re asked to do?
When they want something, do they want it right now or the world will end?
I’m not going to lie or sugar-coat this at all –If this is your kid (and no
If you’re ready to actually stop whining and complaining, commit to this method and stay consistent. Keep it up for at least two weeks, even if it seems like it’s not working at first. I’m confident that within that time frame things will be getting better.
Gaining control of the situation, keeping your thoughts positive, being consistent, and knowing when to walk away are the keys to successfully stop whining and complaining.
Gaining Control Of The Situation
All children of all ages whine, complain and act mean or rude at some point or another. They are usually trying to get your attention or to get their own way.
If you react to whining and complaining you are putting your child in control. This is true even if you don’t give in because you are still proving that it affects you and gets attention (negative attention is better than no attention). It means when your kid is mad … they know how to make you tick.
Parents frequently react to whining and complaining, or rude behavior because let’s face it — it’s frustrating! If anybody knows that, it’s me. The problem is when you react while you’re frustrated with your child’s behavior you may yell, say things you don’t mean, or give in.
This means you’ve lost control.
You should never engage in an argument with your child. A guideline to follow is this:
If you have responded to your child about the same subject more than three times you are officially in an argument with them.
It’s time for you to tell them “This discussion is over”, and end it.
Yelling, giving in, and saying things you don’t mean may stop the negative behavior for the moment but this is a short-term solution. In the long run, your child is learning that whining, complaining, and being rude is a good way to get attention from you or to get their way.
Three Steps to Stop Whining and Complaining Long Term
1. Stay calm by changing your thoughts.
It’s easier to be calm if you can stop thinking about how your child is acting in the situation. Changing your thoughts to more positive ones can help with this. Try looking at the situation from your child’s point of view. Instead of judging your child’s behavior, think about what emotions may be causing them to react this way.
Instead of thinking: “She always gives me such a hard time! I don’t know why I bother doing fun things with her!”
Tell yourself: “We had such a busy day, she must be really overtired. How can I help her?”
Instead of thinking: “Why does she always do this to me”
Tell yourself: “She must be very overwhelmed right now. She’s having a hard time”
Instead of thinking: “Here we go again. What a terrible start to the day”
Tell yourself: “I won’t let this get to me. I am going to stay calm.”
It can take some practice to get good at this skill, but it is well worth it to try. When you change your thoughts and stay calm, it’s easier to stay in control of the situation. Once your child knows their behavior isn’t going to affect you, or help them get what they want, there won’t be any reason to act that way.
2. Be Prepared and Be Consistent
If you plan to start ignoring the whining and complaining you must be ready to ignore ALL whining and complaining. No matter how relentless your child becomes. To successfully stop whining and complaining, your child needs to see that it will have no effect on you, ever.
If your reactions are unreliable, you’re still going to have this problem because your kiddo is going to test the waters and see how you’ll react that day.
This right here is the reason why things are going to get worse before they get better. When you first begin ignoring this behavior, that you reacted to before your child may up their antics. Knowing the behavior worked before they may try whining longer, louder, and more consistently in an attempt to break you (seriously).
Keep it together through this and keep telling yourself “I will stay calm. I won’t let this ruin my mood.”. Once it’s clear that you really aren’t going to react anymore, your child will stop. I promise.
Make sure they know you will be ignoring them
Give your kid a heads up what’s going on. Simply say “I will not speak to you while you are whining. I will be ignoring you now until you can talk to me nicely” — Once you’ve said it, you must follow through. There is no turning back now.
Direct your child to something positive with a first-then statement:
If things are just teetering on the edge of a whine fest you may be able to swiftly redirect your child with an incentive by using
For example, if your child was complaining that they didn’t want to get ready for school you could say “First get ready for school, then you can play video games for 10 minutes before we leave”. Make sure you always follow through on rewards.
Use lots of positive reinforcement
On this new journey where you stop whining and complaining and you start dealing with a more friendly, well-mannered child make sure you are using tons and tons of positive reinforcement to encourage their good behavior.
Using positive reinforcement is super important if you want to truly stop whining and complaining. Ignoring the unwanted behavior is great but praising the preferred behavior is even better. Check out the scientific explanation as to why positive reinforcement works better.
3. Know When To Walk Away
There are going to be times in the beginning when the whining and complaining just will not stop, no matter how much you ignore it.
No matter how many times you say “I will stay calm”, sometimes you’ll be silently screaming inside. When this happens it is important to know the first sign of losing your patience or getting angry and walk away.
Walking away can help you stay in control of the situation. You can take a small break and re-think about the situation, ensuring you stay in control and don’t react to any hurtful or rude comments.
Decide on a “walk away” spot ahead of time so you know where you’re going to go when you’re frustrated. You may want to go to your bedroom, the bathroom, or the doorstep for example. Your walk away spot should be far enough away from the situation that you will be
Knowing when to walk away also helps teach your child a positive strategy for dealing with anger. Modeling appropriate behavior is one of the biggest ways we can influence our kids positively.
If you follow these steps, over time you will spend less time arguing with your child and more time doing things you enjoy together.
Some Behaviours Should NEVER Be Ignored
Certain behaviors should never be ignored. If your child is attempting to hurt themselves or others, being destructive, or putting the safety of anyone at risk, it is important to react right away.
Some parents choose to use time out in these situations or remove a child’s privileges. It is up to you, as the parent to decide what the most effective reaction is for your child. The important part is to remain as calm as possible while you handle the situation.
Also, if your child is on the autism spectrum, like my oldest, be aware that this is not a way to deal with meltdowns or sensory issues. During a meltdown, your child is not in control of his actions and he needs your guidance. You know your child best and are the best one to determine whether or not this technique will be right for your family.
Children having tantrums, whining, and complaining will be looking for attention so you may notice your child is looking to you for a reaction or personally attacking you (“you’re the worst mom ever!”).
A child who is having a meltdown will no longer care about anything happening around him so nothing you say or do could make them stop.