Why kids whine and what to do about it.
There is nothing harsher and ear piercing for anyone to hear someone else whining, especially in a high pitch tone. It’s even more difficult when your own kids do it. We often start feeling helpless. Please don’t feel helpless; your kids look up to you for support when they are in distress. And, they catch vibes way more easily than adults.
It’s not a fight, nor is it about you. When your children are going through an emotion or feeling, it’s not yours to fix. You can only accept other people’s feelings, you can’t change them. Kids are people too.
Here’s why kids whine
Kids are exploring, not just things around them. They are exploring emotions and their limits with things and people, what pushes their parents’ buttons, everything!
They get sad about letting anything go
They always want to do the more of the fun stuff. Which is why the whining mostly happens before bedtime. They know the routine; and know that the fun will have to end, and they don’t want it to, hence a meltdown.
Hunger and Tiredness
Because they are always focusing on fun things, they often miss the hunger cues. And, low blood sugar makes them feel frustrated, but they haven’t yet understood that eating food will make them feel better. They only eat food when they feel safe and relaxed.
Kids also don’t know when to stop doing the fun things, and tiredness and sleep deprivation can actually make you more sleepless instead of sleepy.
Here is the other thing, we accept and expect babies will cry. We believe they don’t have another way of communicating. But we are too harsh on toddlers and older kids.
Since they can express we expect them to speak their minds.
Toddlers might not have the right words yet, and when their attempts to interact by pointing or using disconnected words are not understood by their primary caregivers they fall back to crying.
Other times their needs are still a feeling in their mind, they haven’t yet articulated it. And, their way of relieving those immense emotions is crying, which we call whining for kids older than one.
Their developmental focus is language right now! They want to share it with you, but since they always can’t because of their limited vocabulary, they feel frustrated.
Lack of focused attention.
It’s very difficult to tell someone, “I want you to pay attention to me”. As adults, we often can’t say this to each other, and it’s one of the primary reasons for disagreements between adults. Although it’s easier for kids to ask for an adult’s attention; sometimes it’s not, or sometimes we don’t listen to them and they feel rejected. So, next time your toddler or child whines, stop and look back at what were you doing, and for how long.
What to do when your Kids are Whining
Consistency and setting limits are the key.
Infants often don’t like to be in car seats, they like the car rides but not the car seats while riding. Do you take them out while driving? You don’t! They eventually learn this is the way it’s going to be. Same way, older kids need to know a routine is permanent, and it’s going to be like that. A limit is permanent and it’s going to be like that. Any amount of whining is not going to change it.
[bctt tweet=”Everyone’s idea of where to draw the line is different,but we all have to draw a line somewhere”]
Don’t distract them with “things they like”.
We often distract kids by offering them something that they like, to keep them occupied but they are not necessarily good for them. Like phone or screens, or an untimely sugary snack.
When you resort to this option, you are only increasing their fondness for that thing. When they whine is the time when they need help, and it’s not you who is helping them settle but it’s the phone or the sugary snack that’s helping them settle. Hence, they become the good things, that kids would fall back on.
It’s an opportunity to make them feel accepted.
You can’t change their feelings! Sorry! But, you can’t!
However, when you tell them to “stop whining”, or “You’re making a scene”, or another negative comment in that line. All they hear is; “You’re Bad”. Let them express; they will feel supported.
Give them your time and undivided attention, you don’t necessarily have to say anything at all. But remember, giving them your undivided attention, is not going to snap them out of whining. It’s a bigger investment than that, it’s is going to help them reassure that their feelings are genuine, and they are accepted without judgment.
There is a better time to tell them that whining is not a good thing to do. That time is, when they are calm, and want your attention, and you are giving them attention.
We do this during evening cuddles. That is the time when I tell them, whatever I want them to learn.
Take a deep breath
When you feel perplexed and are just about to lose it, take a break, even if it’s for 2 seconds.Take a deep breath and let it go.
I often speak these words in my mind “I accept that you are upset, and I am not baffled by it”
Here’s a link to my Six Parenting Rules to calm your child.
What helps you keep calm when your kids are going through a rough time?