Why Do Kids Whine? 6 Tips to Help Them Stop!

March 23, 2020
Written by:
Guest Author

Now that we’ve been home – together – every day – for over a while now – we can all attest to the undeniable fact that “Whining happens!” Whining is something every child does or has done at one time or another, and it drives parents nuts! But, if a child is whining something is going on and we as parents should attempt to figure it out!  Though most of us can agree, we often give in to the whining or get frustrated and angry.  If we want to really find a solution to the whining, it’s important to step back and take a look at what whining is, why kids whine, and how to stop the whining.  The whining may never completely go away, but it can be managed and minimized.

What is Whining?What is Whining?

I looked up this word in several dictionaries and came up with my own definition.  I believe whining is characterized by a high pitch sound or words that express uneasiness, discontent, or unhappiness that is constantly being repeated.  For example, a child who is supposed to go to bed, but instead keeps saying they aren’t tired over and over again in a high pitched tone is a perfect example of whining.

Why Do Kids Whine?

After looking at research and considering my own personal experience of raising four children there seem to be three reasons kids whine.

  • A need is not being meet: This need can be a true need, like not having enough sleep or being hungry.  A perceived need like thinking they really don’t need to go to bed because they don’t think they are tired.
  • A child is trying to express emotion and doesn’t know how to appropriately. This is very common in young children, but even older children struggle to put words to what they are feeling.  Death, job loss, moving, a pandemic, or anything that is outside of a child’s normal routine can cause uneasiness, fear, and anxiety.  When children feel this way and don’t have the vocabulary they tend to whine.
  • It is learned behavior: What we call whining in children is called complaining for adults.  If a child sees a parent always complaining then they think this is normal and will follow the example set.

How to Make Them Stop!

There are many ways to make whining stop depending on why they are whining.

  • Redirect the whining. Let the child know they are whining and teach them how to ask for what they want in an appropriate way.  Often times they don’t even realize they are doing it.
  • Ignore it, just don’t engage. This is useful for older children.  Often they are purposefully trying to push your buttons and ignoring doesn’t allow the child to win.  You know your child best and if that is what they are doing or if it is one of the other reasons listed.
  • Meet the need: If they are tired, put them down for a nap.  If you know they are hungry, feed them.  If they need reassurance, give it to them.
  • Name the appropriate emotion that they are feeling and talk about what is going on. Knowing is reassuring and helps them to gain control of the situation they are in.
  • Watch how you react to things around you. Be conscious of your own tone and words you use around your children.  They pick it up and feed off how you react.

Encouragement for Parents

Tips to Make Whining Stop!These are unusual times and there is a lot of fear around us.  As parents, our children are watching how we handle these times.  If we are fearful and angry our children will also be that way.  If we are calm and in control, they will feel that as well.  Since times are uncertain it can be easy just to give in to the whining, but this doesn’t help the child or you.  So stop the whining as it happens.

There is a lot of unknowns and we struggle to make sense of it all. It follows suit that our children will struggle even more and whining will happen.  With that said, there needs to be a measure of grace.  Be understanding, spend extra time with them, and give out lots of hugs and kisses.  The whining may lessen or even go away because they know you love them and are safe.




Kim Smith contributorKimberly Smith – Volunteer Contributor

Kimberly Smith is a religious homeschool mom of 4 children with three of those in college! Kim and her family enjoy fostering children, were thrilled to adopt their seven-year-old through fostering, and are now homeschooling again! Kim has had over 17 years of homeschool experience including the privilege to homeschool a child with serious learning disabilities as well as a gifted child. Kim and her husband of 26 years have gone through many ups and downs with their children as well as in life. Job losses, frequent moves, and the challenge of loving a child through rebellion have been a part of their growth and give Kimberly the insight to touch others.