As parents, we do not like whining in our children. I think it’s obvious that whining children often become complaining adults. How do you prevent that trajectory? Nipping whining in the bud as soon as you notice it is the best way to stop it.
Even babies and toddlers can be taught not to whine. Start teaching your baby sign language at 8 months and continue on until he/she is verbal. This will encourage him to use appropriate language rather than whining to get what he wants. After children are verbal, having them repeat the simple phrase “Yes, Mommy, no whining” can remind them to ask for something again without a whiney tone.
I know some of us think our little ones are so cute (and they are) that we make excuses for them. We say things like, “They aren’t whining, they just have a high pitched voice”, “They aren’t whining, they are just tired”, or we just give them what they want to get them to be quiet. But the truth is, it’s our job as parents to put an end to whining, not make excuses for it or give in to it.
The unacceptable behaviors that we allow to develop in our young children will develop into bigger problems later on. Whining can grow into complaining as our children mature into young adults. Our children mostly learned to exhibit the self-control necessary to control whining when they were young. However, as they grew older and we noticed a pattern of complaining emerging, we started to use the phrase “Never complain about what you permit.” to draw attention to this new, unacceptable habit. Complaining and whining are the same thing. Complaining is just whining in an adult body. When our children were teens, we would repeat the phrase “never complain about what you permit” when they would start to complain. Then we would ask, “Is there anything you can do to change this situation?” If they were complaining about something in their lives that they had permitted, we would come up with solutions. If they were complaining about situations that they couldn’t control, then we would pray with them and encourage them to pray and ask God for a solution. We would even remind them that the children of Israel wandered in the dessert for 40 years because of complaining. This would diffuse the situation and help them to refocus on a solution instead of spiraling out of control with their complaining.
The next time you are faced with a toddler who whines or a young teen that complains, remember “Never complain about what you permit.” Start them on a journey of finding solutions to their whining and complaining.
Cynthia Schrock was born in Ohio but grew up on the mission field with her parents in Quito, Ecuador. She married her wonderful husband Eric in 1990. They have two beautiful children: Ashley is 24 and Matthew is 19. In 2016 Cynthia completed a 13 year long journey of homeschooling. Eric and Cynthia have been involved in marriage and parenting ministry for 22 years. Cynthia is a Contact Mom, helping moms with solutions in their daily parenting struggles. She has also authored a book on celebrating others called The Ultimate Gift of a Birthday.