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A child may whine because he or she:

Is tired of:

  • Being awake
  • An activity
  • Sitting still

Needs attention from:

  • Parents
  • Or other caregivers

Is afraid:

  • To be alone
  • Of the dark

Wants something:

  • Does not know how to get it

How To Respond

When your child whines, notice what is happening.  When you know what is wrong, you can decide what to do.

If your child is tired:

  • Comfort and put your child to bed
  • Try an earlier bedtime
  • Establish bedtime routines

If your child needs attention:

  • Try to be aware and give attention before the whining begins.
  • Talk, cuddle, and hug your child throughout the day.
  • Reassure your child of your love and care.

Example: “I’ll read the book to you when I finish cleaning.”

If your child is afraid:

  • Comfort your child with words and hugs.
  • Reassure your child to combat fear.

If your child needs something:

  • Show your child how to get it.
  • Teach your child to use words.

Example: “Use your words to ask for a cookie.”

If whining has become a habit:

  • Respond by saying, “Please say that without whining and use your real voice.”

Sometimes it is best just to ignore whining.