When children whine they are feeling powerless. If we scold them for whining or refuse to listen to them we increase their feelings of powerlessness. If we give in so they will stop whining, we reward that powerlessness. But if we relaxedly, playfully, invite them to use a strong voice, we increase their sense of confidence and competence. And we find a bridge back to close connection. – Lawrence Cohen, author of Playful Parenting

We are our children’s coaches and it’s our job to shape and polish their behaviour for the future.

It’s not good parenting, or loving, to let our children grow up with behaviours that just aren’t going to work in the real world – behaviours like yelling, hitting, bullying and lying.

Or whining.

Whining can easily become a habit, and if children whine and get results, they’ll try it again, and again.

And again.

So, Why Do Children Whine?

Understanding why children whine can help put us in the right frame of mind for handling it.

Children whine because:

  • They don’t have the internal resources to cope with what’s being asked of them.
  • They need more connection with us.
  • They don’t like what’s happening but feel powerless to get their way.
  • It works!

As toddlers, our children threw themselves howling to the ground. By the age of three or four they whine instead. Whining is just a more mature form of crying. Our child is letting us know they need our attention (and we adults are programmed to react to whining in much the same way as crying – it’s nature’s way of making sure the needs of little people are met and it’s why we find whining so irritating!).

Just asking a child to stop whining is likely to be about as successful as asking them to stop crying. It may work; but mostly not. (Incidentally, in any discussions about whining, it’s a good idea to make sure our child actually knows what whining is. If they don’t understand what we mean by ‘whining’ we won’t be getting through – in their mind they may feel they were just asking for something.)

To address whining successfully we’re best to focus on the underlying issue(s):

  • What does our child need?
  • Have we been extra busy?
  • Would one-on-one time help?
  • Are we on top of their basic needs? Hunger and tiredness would make anyone whine!

Addressing these factors is a very good place to start with a whining child.


When our child whines, it’s their way of asking for something or telling us they’re frustrated. If we can take a deep breath and remind ourself that there’s no crisis, that we should look for and address the underlying causes, then we’ll feel a lot better and we’ll parent better – and hopefully, our child will not develop the habit of whining (remember that our children closely watch what we do too, so let’s make sure we’re not whining either!).

And if all else fails just smile, give them a big hug, and ask some questions.

Much of the time that’ll be enough and the whining will stop.


Lightbulb Learning Childcare is a brand new Mt Wellington daycare near Hamlin Hill offering quality care and affordable education for children aged 3 months to 5 years old.

If you feel that you need a childcare centre to support your child’s great start in life, feel free to email us at hello@lightbulblearning.co.nz or you may call 573 5049. Come and visit us at Lightbulb Learning Childcare.

Article Source: PDHQ