How To Bottle The Whine

sulky angry childI am no good with whiners. I’m just not. It’s one of my down-falls. I am a teacher and a father. I have seen lying, cheating, bullying, and manipulation. I can handle these, but when a child whines, it’s like fingernails on a chalkboard to my ears. And, I know that it’s normal. Kids whine. Yet, it’s my achilles heel. If you are like me, what do you do to curb this annoying of all childhood acts?

The thing about whining is that it bugs the ears of full grown adults. So, in a kid’s mind, if they whine long enough they will get a response from us. And, if we give in to the whine because we just want it turned off, we have taught our children that they can get what they want from us by whining. We reinforce their irritating behavior, teaching them that whining is a way to get what they want.

So, what’s a parent to do? I do the same thing in my third grade classroom as I have done with both of my girls. First, I make sure they are aware that they are whining. Strangely, some kids don’t realize that they are making grating sounds as they elongate words in a disturbing manner. So, I compare their whine to a siren. “If you speak like an ambulance, you are whining. Instead of saying, ‘I’m so tiiiiiired,’ you can just say, ‘I’m tired’.”

For some, that’s all it takes. “Oh, I sounded like that? Didn’t realize.” And, it’s done. Some need reminders, “How long do I have to waaaiiiit?”

“Is that a siren I hear?”

“Sorry. How much longer until we’re done?”

“Much better.”

Then, of course there are those who will still sound like a fire truck on its way to a four-alarm fire. And, they will keep the siren going even after being reminded. When I encounter a child of this caliber, I just tell them, “I can’t hear the words you whine.” And, I ignore it and move on with my life.

Now, to be quite honest, it KILLS me, because the hair on my arm stands on end. My left eye starts to twitch, but I know if I give in and respond to the whine, I will have taught this young person that whining works. So, I repeat in my head, “It’s just a babbling brook. You’ll be fine.”

And, if you don’t give in, most kids get that the whine won’t work. Once they repeat whatever it is they are saying in normal human talk, be sure to praise their change, “Oh, much better. I can totally understand you. Yes, we can go in five minutes.”

And, if all else fails, that’s what earbuds are for. Turn on Pandora and slip away into your own musical, whine-free world.

Written by: Leon Scott Baxter, America’s Relationship Guru


About the Author

Leon Scott Baxter is known as America’s Relationship Guru. He has been a public school teacher for seventeen years, and has two daughters (10 and 15). He’s the author of three books on relationships and his newest book on parenting happy and successful children is due out in 2015. Come join him on Face Book at

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