Is it normal for preschoolers to whine, and more importantly, can it be stopped?
"My son is four years old and whines like nobody's business. He whines about everything," laments Circle of Moms member Kaylin D. She wonders how other moms deal with this kind of "compulsive" whining.
Kaylin isn't the only mom with a whiny preschooler. Amelia J. says her son saves it up for her: "I can be taking a nap (as I am currently pregnant again) and he will be upstairs with Grandma, Grandpa, and Dad and he is fine; happy, playing, listening to everything they say to him, but as soon as I wake up he seriously becomes like the brattiest child you will find. He begins to whine, will not listen, ... just generally 'bad behavior' such as throwing toys, screaming, etc." A member named Lauren is so sick of her daughter's whining that she often finds herself screaming in response.
The good news is that while there are a lot of whiny preschoolers out there making their moms crazy, there are also a lot of seasoned moms offering tips for curbing whining, from eliminating whiny influences (Calliou's voice is "very whiny," warns one mom) to trying out gadgets like the Whining Watch, which teaches kids to wait until they can make a request without whining. Read on for three more commonly-suggested approaches.
1. Don't Accept Whining as a Substitute for Talking
"I've found that if I say to my son, 'I can't understand you when you whine, can you ask the right way?' he usually catches on pretty quick," says a mom named Kat. Another way to put this into action is to repeat what your child is saying and let him know that while you hear him, you can't quite make out what he's trying to say because he's whining. Other moms suggest to their whining kids that they take a break, cool off, and ask again when they feel ready to speak clearly.
2. Eliminate Underlying Causes
Several moms recommend thinking about what may have triggered your child's whining, and trying to avoid these triggers in the future. Many moms find (and Supernanny agrees) that whining can be triggered by hunger, thirst, or fatigue, since children often can't anticipate or even recognize their needs for food, drink, and sleep. Other moms, including Bethany, find that eliminating certain very specific irritants can decrease a child's son's whining: "If he doesn't like you to brush hair/teeth, or certain clothes or food you may have issues with sensory development. My son had some issues with it and goes to an occupational therapist which has helped tremendously."
3. Respond Calmly, Clearly, and Consistently
Both moms and experts recommend being consistent with how you react to whining, and Supernanny adds that it's important to remain calm and to avoid rewarding your child's whining with what mom Bethany calls "negative attention." Speak clearly yourself, and don't forget to praise your child's efforts at positive behavior. In other words, make a big deal out of it whenever he's able to recognize and stop his whining.