5 reasons your child whines all the time – and how to stop it

April 20, 2018
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    Why does your child whine all the time and what can you do about it?

    A few hours spent with your whining child is guaranteed to leave you drained and exhausted. It gets on your nerves, and if you’re not careful, you could end up whining just as much as he is.

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    However, there are several explanations for his behaviour. Here are the five main reasons why your child does this, along with advice on the best ways to respond to him.

    Related: Video: 7 steps to correct your child’s disrespectful behaviour

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  • Your child is bored
    3 / 7 Your child is bored

    There are times your child whines because he is bored and can’t think of what to do to keep himself busy. It starts whenever he has free time (because he hasn’t got a clear plan of action) and it stops the moment he is occupied.

    How to respond Distract him as best you can. Giving your child an activity that attracts his interest will stop him in his tracks. Suggest a toy or game that he can play with and, if necessary, start the activity off with him until he is fully engaged. Then you can leave him to get on with it on his own.

    Related: Why your child’s behaviour is good at home but bad in school

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  • Your child wants attention
    4 / 7 Your child wants attention

    Your child whines sometimes because he just wants your attention, and he knows his complaints will eventually bring you over to him. He doesn’t mind if you scold him because that means he still gets your attention all the same.

    How to respond If you suspect that he’s doing this, try your best to ignore his continuous complaints (though that can be difficult). When he doesn’t whine, give him your positive attention, and make sure you tell him you’re pleased he didn’t complain.

    Related: 5 steps to correct your child’s bossy behaviour

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  • Your child is hungry or unwell
    5 / 7 Your child is hungry or unwell

    Just like you, your child has physical needs. Hunger, for instance, will make him whine, as will thirst. And if he is incubating an illness or is about to come down with a cold or flu, he may be irritable as well.

    How to respond Attend to his physical needs until he is more comfortable. A hungry eight-year-old’s mood can be improved quickly with a snack or a drink of juice; a child with a full bladder feels better after visiting the toilet; and an ill child doesn’t feel so bad when given a cuddle and is tucked into bed under a warm duvet.

    Related: Toddler cries easily: how to stop the behaviour

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  • Your child has a bad habit
    6 / 7 Your child has a bad habit

    It is amazing how easy it is for your child to get into this bad habit, just for the sake of it. Perhaps he learnt the habit from his sibling or maybe he whined once and found that he liked the noises he made – some children whine for no apparent reason.

    How to respond Try to break this habit. Explain that you want him to stop whining needlessly and that you will help him achieve this target. Tell him that, today, you don’t want him to whine for the next 30 minutes. Praise him when he manages this, and then gradually extend the time limit each day.

    Related: Reward or bribe for good behaviour: what’s the difference?

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  • Your child feels insecure
    7 / 7 Your child feels insecure

    If your child feels emotionally insecure – perhaps because he fell out with his classmate, or because he thinks other children don’t like him – he’ll complain that he wants to stay at home instead of an activity that involves him mixing with others.

    How to respond Try to find out what’s troubling him. Think about all aspects of his life, chat with him about his friends, school and leisure activities, and persist until you identify the source of his anxiety.

    Once you do that, you may be able to solve the problem quite quickly. He’ll feel happier now that he knows you are involved.

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