Dealing with Whining Compassionately

Welcome to the April 2013 Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival: Peaceful Parenting Applied

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival hosted by Authentic Parenting and Living Peacefully with Children.  We hope you enjoy this month’s posts and consider joining us next month when we share about Peaceful Parenting Applied.


Chances are, at some point or another, that tone has come out of your childrens’ mouths. You know the one. It’s the whine that grates on your nerves, making you want to pull your head inside your shirt, cover your ears with your hands, or leave. If you don’t deal with the whine, it just gets longer and louder and more, well, whiney. While you may find yourself wanting to walk outside and scream yourself, there are a few easy tips to keep gentle parents gentle at these times.

Don’t take it personally. This may be easier said than done, especially if the whine continues to include your name. Personally, when I begin to hear the “Moooooooom,” it takes on an entirely new level for me. As much as we may feel disrespected or underappreciated during these times, our children’s behaviors are not about us.

Define the cause. If the whining isn’t about us, what exactly is it about? That is the question of your day. You can’t begin to solve a problem if you don’t know what the problem is. Observe the situation. Think about what may be causing this seemingly annoying behavior, and set about making some changes. I know for my kids, whining signals that they are tired. We need to slow down, cut out some things, go for some quiet, easy going activities.

Connect with your kids. Yes, your child is whining and the last thing you may feel like is being around them, but when your children are exhibiting behaviors such as this, it’s a cry for help. They need you. Take a deep breath. Remember how much you love your children, and be there for them. Perhaps doing something with your child will be enough to break them out of their whining ways.

Actively listen. Everyone has bad days sometimes, and often we just need to have someone listen to us on those days. This is a great time to practice active listening so that your children understand that you ar ethere for them and that you really are listening.

Set personal limits for yourself. It’s okay to say that you are reaching your limit and that you would prefer to be spoken to in a normal voice. If you are having difficulty understanding because of the whining, explain that you can’t understand what your child is saying and that you need to know what they are saying in order to help.

Use play and humor. Try bringing a little levity to the situation by playing or using humor. When our children’s voices begin to take on that whining tinge, my husband has a difficult time understanding them. His go to phrase is “Hmmm. I couldn’t really understand what you said, but it kind of sounded like, ‘Daddy, you are the greatest!'” It hasn’t failed him yet. They will either laugh or take a deep breath to speak clearly.

Take control of your actions and words. As much as the whining may be driving us a little batty, we are still in control of our own actions. We get to choose how we act or react.

Remeber compassion. At the end of the day, think about the relationship you have with your kids. Every parent/child relationship is just taht – a relationship. remember to have compassion, both for your children and for yourself.

photo credit: polywen via photopin cc


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Most parents have dealt with a whining child at some point. I generally handle whining pretty well. It’s only when the whining turns to a “Moooommmmmmyyyyyy” multiple times that it really starts to grate on my nerves. Having my name whined will quickly begin to bother me. When that happens, I calmly explain to my children that it is bothering me. The good news is that I know what triggers the whining. My children only whine when they are tired. That isn’t to say that other things never exasperate the whining, but they have to first be tired for the whining to start. Knowing this fact not only helps me to deal with the cause of the behavior, but it also helps me to be more understanding. As a mother of four young children, I understand being tired.

Earlier this Spring, I was at the zoo with my kids. We had been walking a lot. I was pregnant at the time and wearing my 2 1/2 year old on my back. My older two kids were beginning to drag and we made the decision to head back home. As we began the long trek back to the entrance, an older child behind us began whining. I heard his mother comment that she thought he must be tired. I smiled to myself, as I don’t often hear insightful comments from other parents at the zoo. It was a nice change. The child countered that he was not tired and the mother snapped, telling him to shut his mouth or she was going to hit him.

I would like to assume that the mother was also tired and had just reached her breaking point. However, I can’t imagine how it could ever be considered acceptable to threaten to hit a child when you know that he is tired (or ever, but that’s a separate issue). Knowledge is power and she knew he was tired. That was valuable information she could have used to help him. Instead, she opted to threaten physical violence.

At that point, I suggested to my children that we pick up the pace and see how quickly we could make it back to the main entrance. I hope I always remember to try and be more understanding when I hear the tell-tale whine of a tired child and that I take that moment for a hug and kiss rather than a quick word from my tongue.