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Copyright 2004, Brian Campbell, Ph.D.






Sometimes the best way to understand something is to "turn it on it’s head" and look at it from a different angle. In this pamphlet, I will begin by taking you on a humorous (tongue-in-cheek) journey and show you how to teach your child to whine. If you pay attention, you may even get a brief glimpse of yourself in some of the illustrations that are used. Then I will go on to teach you how to prevent, reduce, and eliminate whining using scientific principles used by behavioral psychologists.


Brief Summary:

Teaching your child to whine is really a very simple thing to do. To begin with, every time your child asks for something in a whining tone of voice, give in and let her have what she wants or let her do what she wants. Start out by "giving in" immediately after your child whines. Later on, in order to teach loud and obnoxious whining, you will want to start to delay your "giving in" response. Argue with your child, plead and beg her to stop whining, be tentative and insecure, ignore her until she gets loud and overbearing.... then give in.

Once the whining response has been firmly established, you can strengthen it by being inconsistent–sometimes give in to the whining, but at other times, be firm and don’t’ give in. If anyone else is trying to be firm and punish your child for whining, try to undermine his or her efforts at all costs.

The Basic Training Strategy:

When teaching new behaviors such as whining, it is important to look at what happens immediately following the behavior. That is, it is important to look at the CONSEQUENCE for the behavior. In our example, we are interested in looking at the consequence for whining. 



   Child whines...........................




In general, if there is a positive consequence immediately after the behavior occurs, it will be more likely to occur in the future. This is called POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT.

When teaching your child to whine–at least during the initial stages of whining training--it is important that you immediately reward "or reinforce" your child for whining. The best way to do this is to quickly "give in" to her whining request or demand.



   Child whines......

   Give In Immediately!



During the initial stages of training, you will want to pay very close attention to your child and reinforce as many instances of whining as possible. Even "little" whines or whimpers should be rewarded. Although this may take some effort on your part, most loving and attentive parents find it very easy to "catch their child whining" and give in to the child’s demands.

Following the initial "whining training," there are many ways you can strengthen or improve the whining response. These advanced techniques typically involve delaying your "giving in" response until the child’s whining has become loud and obnoxious–and then give in. 







Then Give In!!






We will discuss a number of these advanced techniques in subsequent sections. However, let’s first consider what you should do if your child suddenly STOPS whining.  

What Happens If My Child Stops Whining After I "Give In"?

If your child stops whining right after you "give in" to her requests, don’t be discouraged. It is only natural for the child to stop whining temporarily whenever you have given her what she wants. After all, she will want to reward you for "giving in" and the best way for her to do this is to stop whining–at least for a brief period of time. Once again, we can look at this situation in terms of BEHAVIOR and CONSEQUENCE.



Child Whines.......

You Give In........

Child Temporarily Stops Whining.....

Ahhh! You Feel Better!





The BEHAVIOR we are focusing on is..."You Give In," and the CONSEQUENCE is: "Child Stops Whining," and you feel better.

Technically speaking, your child is using what is termed NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT to teach you to "give in" more often in the future.

Notice the mutual benefits. Because you have rewarded her for whining, she will be more likely to whine in the future. Because she has rewarded you by stopping her whining after you "give in," you will be more likely to "give in" in the future.

Children Love to Reward Parents for "Giving In":

Children instinctively love to reward their parents for "giving in" to them and letting them do what they want. Notice how you never have to ask them to stop whining once you have given them what they want. Most children immediately stop whining and may even smile or say "thank you." This is their way of letting you know that they enjoy the fact that you are teaching them to whine by "giving in" to what they want.

Children Are Born With a Whining Mechanism:

All children come into this world with an inborn "whining mechanism"–it’s called crying. A newborn baby cannot tell you what she wants, so she cries in hopes that you will figure out that she is hungry or needs fed. Crying is the perfect "training ground" for learning advanced whining techniques.

Parents who want to teach their children to whine should continue to respond to their infant’s crying far beyond what would be reasonable given the child’s age. Unfortunately, some parents actually require their children to "grow up" and stop using crying to get what they want. This can have devastating effects on the development of whining.

Whining can be thought of as a special form of crying. For children to become really good at whining, they usually need loving parents to help them. In the sections below, you will learn how to pay special attention to whining so that you can train your child to whine in order to get what she wants or to get you to do what she wants.

Start When They’re Young:

There are many opportunities to teach whining, even when your child is very young. Prior to age one, when she doesn’t have any words, you can begin teaching your child to whine by regularly rewarding little whining "sounds" or whining "noises."

For example, if she makes a whining noise while pointing to her favorite toy or food, you can respond immediately and give her the toy or food. Perhaps she wants a "Cheerio" or an "Animal Cracker." Even if she can’t say these words, you can begin by rewarding whining sounds that accompany her attempts to communicate her needs. This is often the first opportunity that parents get to teach whining.

As the child matures, and she begins to actually articulate words more clearly, make sure that you do not accidentally reward the child’s first words without the accompanying whining sounds. That is, try to ignore your child’s attempts to communicate without whining. If you aren’t careful, you could accidentally reward "non-whining" behavior.

Rule: Make sure you don’t accidentally pay attention to, or reward, your child’s first efforts to talk or say new words. Hold out until she not only tries to say new words, but also whines while trying to talk. When she is whining while she talks or gestures.... then give in.

How Will Know if My Child is Whining?

Fortunately, most parents have very few problems trying to decide which sounds and noises are "whining" and which are just the childs attempt to say new words. If you have any doubts, try to go by your subjective feelings when deciding if the child is whining. Whining sounds are almost always annoying and go "right up your back."

Here are some real world examples of actual whining sounds, or noises that resemble whining sounds....



Your puppy when it wants to go outside to relieve itself.


Someone scratching their fingernails on the chalk board.


A parent at a little league game trying to get the umpire to reverse a bad call.


Your favorite show is on the other channel, and you don’t have the remote.

If you have problems deciding whether your child is whining or not, don’t be afraid to get some help. Many parents have done such a good job at teaching their children to whine that they often get "numb to whining" and have difficulty recognizing it when it occurs. In such cases, your child’s relatives or teachers will often be of great help in pointing out your child’s whining or pouting behavior. In fact, many of them may even complain about it on a regular basis.

Speak Quietly and Lovingly to Increase Whining:

When teaching whining to very young children, many parents have discovered that talking quietly and lovingly to them while they are whining is the best way to increase whining behavior. Even if your child is too young to understand what you are saying, she will be able to understand by your soft voice and loving smiles that you approve of her whining and want her to continue to exhibit this behavior.



Child Whines

Mother Speaks Softly and Lovingly While Smiling

BEHAVIOR -> -> ->


When using this technique, it is important to never raise your voice, look upset, turn your head, or say the word "NO" to your child. This could possibly punish the behavior and lead to a decrease in whining.

Teach Loud and Obnoxious Whining:

In previous sections, we have seen how important it is to more-or-less immediately give in to your child’s whining–at least during the initial "whining training." Unfortunately, many parents are so good at immediately rewarding whining that their child never progresses or moves on to develop LOUD and OBNOXIOUS whining. In order to teach your child obnoxious whining, more advanced training techniques are required. If you don’t learn these advanced techniques, your child may only develop soft "whimpering" or "pouting" to get what she wants.

Most of the advanced techniques described below require the parent to learn how to delay the process of "giving in" to your child. (See Illustration # 3: above). As you will see, there are many different methods for delaying the process of "giving in" in order to develop loud and obnoxious whining.

Use Pleading and Begging to Increase Whining:

Even when your child is very young and immature, you can begin pleading and begging with her to stop whining in order to enhance the whining response. Pleading and begging with your child to stop whining–without actually doing anything about the whining-- is often one of the best ways to increase the strength and intensity of whining.

When using this technique, begin by saying something like: "Please stop whining. I’m not going to let you go outside until you stop whining." When your child continues to whine, get louder and say something like: "Please, please, stop whining. You’re starting to drive me crazy!" Make sure that you do not "give in" to your child during the early stages of this process.

When using this technique, you will probably notice that your child gets louder and more obnoxious as you plead and beg her to stop whining. This is exactly the type of behavior you are looking for. After you have pleaded several times with your child to stop whining, and after she has become loud and obnoxious.... then give in, and let her do what she wants or give her what she wants.



Child Whines

Child Gets LOUDER...

Child Gets LOUDER...

Child Gets LOUDER...

Then Give In

Parent Begs...

Parent Begs...

Parent Pleads...



Use "Arguing" to Teach Obnoxious Whining:

Another advanced technique (similar to Begging and Pleading) is to ARGUE or disagree with your child. Start out by getting into a discussion with the child about why she should not be allowed to get what she wants. Keep arguing and using logic and reasoning to get your point across. Make sure you listen to your child’s point of view, even if she is obviously immature and incapable of making a valid argument or a mature judgment.

Be Tentative and Insecure:

When listening to your child’s arguments and protests, try to make sure that you are very tentative and insecure about what you are saying. Never use a firm and authoritative voice. If you are accidentally too forceful and definite in what you are saying, your child may get the idea that she is not going to win the argument. This could be fatal in terms of whining. Remember, make sure that your child always feels that you may "give in" at any moment to her superior logic and reasoning.

Listen Intently to Everything Your Child Says:

Try not to frustrate or inhibit your child in any way. Make sure she knows that you are going to listen to everything she says–even if it is complete nonsense, and even if she has stated her point ten times already. By the way, never, never, cut your child off in "mid sentence" when she is trying to explain why she is right and you are wrong. This might hurt her feelings. After all, she has a right to state her opinion over and over again–especially if you are not focusing intently on everything she is saying.

Respond To Your Child’s Attempts to Induce Guilt:

Many children are much smarter than their parents and can make their parents feel horribly guilty for not "giving in" to their demands. When teaching your child to whine, you will want to make sure that you respond to all the guilty feelings that the child creates in you. By doing so, you will teach the child that she can use guilt go get you to "give in." Since "giving in" to your child is the main ingredient in teaching your child to whine, your response to your child’s "guilt trip" will help insure that she will whine in the future.

Remember, you should learn to respond to any guilt feelings your child may have created in you by "giving in" to your child’s whining demands. Ultimately, you will feel much better when you don’t have to worry about depriving your child of something she wants. She may even praise you for your efforts and tell that you’re "a good mommy or daddy." In this way, she will reward you for "giving in" to the guilt feelings she has created.



Guilt Trip Statements


All the other mothers let their children do it! Why can’t I?


But I’m hungry! You don’t want me to starve do you?


Daddy, I feel sick. I really need to have another doughnut.


Why can’t I go outside? John’s dad lets him go outside when it’s raining!


You never buy me anything at the toy store! All the other kids get presents! Why can’t I?


I hate you! You’re so mean! You never let me do anything!

Remember, after you "give in" to your child’s "guilt trip," you will feel much better and she will feel much better. It’s a WINWIN situation! By the way, if other people try to suggest that you are a "whimp," or easily controlled and manipulated by your child, just ignore them. After all, they probably have no idea that you are trying to train your child to whine.

Use "Big Words" and Long Sentences:

Another tried and proven tactic when arguing or disagreeing with young children is to talk "over their heads." Use sophisticated vocabulary and complicated sentences. Typically, this will confuse and frustrate the child and she will not know "what on earth you’re talking about." You might even find it useful to speak to her in a foreign language if you know one. Then, there is almost no possibility that she will understand what you’re saying.  Here are some examples...



Wow Them With Your Vocabulary and Language!!


Now Johnny, I told you that you weren’t going to be allowed to go outside. There is a great deal of precipitation and the weather forecaster has indicated that it is likely that there will be a sudden deluge in the near future.


Now Mary, you know that Mommy doesn't allow her children to have toys that are not age appropriate.  When you grow up and become a responsible young girl, I'll consider purchasing that doll for you.

Try to avoid being simple and clear. And never speak to your child at her own level of understanding. Since your child doesn’t know what you’re saying, she will keep whining in hopes that you will "give in" to her request.

Learn to Negotiate With Your Child:

Many children are excellent negotiators. If your child comes up with a very good argument for getting what she wants, teach her that you are willing to negotiate with her and "give in" at least partially to her demands. With practice, she will learn that if she whines long enough and loud enough, and if she "holds you hostage" until you just can’t stand it any longer, you will eventually "give in" and grant her at least part of what she demands.



Child Negotiating Statements:


If you let me do what I want, I’ll stop whining.


Please!!! Please!!! If you let me go out just this one time, I promise I’ll never ask you again.


I only want to watch just this one TV show, then I’ll go to bed.


Please!! Please!! Let Mary sleep over. I promise we’ll be quiet.


(After your child has successfully negotiated with you, give her at least part of what she demands)


(You may want to "hold out" until she uses many different negotiating strategies before you finally "give in")


Once you have established a pattern of negotiating with your child, she will almost certainly want to use her negotiating skills in the future. In fact, with enough training, she will discover just the right things to say in order to get you to "give in." To begin with, she may only attempt to negotiate over the "big things" she wants. However, if you teach her to be successful with the "big ticket items" she will soon learn to negotiate for the "little things" as well as the big things.

In summary, there are any different ways to use the technique of "arguing" with your child in order to increase whining. Unfortunately, the very process of arguing can get very "messy" and "confusing" to both you and your child. Many parents get flustered and lose track of what they are doing and saying. Often, both the child and the parents get very frustrated and angry. When this happens, rejoice! Getting emotional and out of control while arguing is exactly the type of behavior you want to encourage.

Get Loud and Obnoxious Yourself:

Training in obnoxious whining is greatly facilitated if both you and your child get loud, obnoxious, and out of control. When this state of affairs has been reached, you are now ready to complete your training objectives.

When you and your child reach the highest level of the "dog fight," you should suddenly, and without any warning, give in to your child’s request.. When you do this, your child will be immediately rewarded for loud and obnoxious behavior, and you will be strongly rewarded when she stops arguing and whining and "leaves you alone." Remember, the more upset you are, the better you will feel when she stops (See Box #4: above).

Use "Warnings" or "Idle Threats" to Teach Obnoxious Whining:

Another advanced training technique, but one that many parents do not use effectively, is to WARN your child over and over to stop whining and then never follow through with any action. The systematic use of WARNING and using "IDLE THREATS" is a sure fire way of enhancing the effectiveness of your training.

When practicing the technique of WARNING, try using statements such as the following... "If you don’t stop whining you are going to have to go to your room." But remember...NEVER, NEVER...actually send your child to her room for whining. Just keep threatening to do it. If possible, warn your child many, many, times....but never follow through. Here is an example:



The Use of "Warnings" to Increase Whining


Amanda, please stop whining...


Amanda, now I asked you to stop whining...


Amanda, if you don’t stop whining, you’re going to be punished...


Amanda, your whining is starting to really bug me. Please stop!...


That’s it, I want you to stop whining immediately!...


If you don’t stop whining, you’ll have to go to time out...


(Continue in a similar fashion, without taking action)


(When child gets extremely obnoxious and rude, then "give in.")


If you use the technique of WARNING effectively, your child will soon learn to "tune you out" and not care about the action you have threatened. Because she does not fear that there will be any consequence to her whining, she can get louder and more obnoxious until you finally "give in" and let her do what she wants. We have already seen how this will greatly enhance the training of loud and obnoxious whining. But that’s not all...

"Warning" Training Will Also Help Your Child Learn To Ignore Others:

WARNING your child about whining, but not following through, will also have a "hidden" advantage–it will make your child "strong" and resistant to threats by others. Some children are inherently "weak" and prone to giving in to others who threaten to take action. Since you are learning to never "follow through" with action, the child will naturally learn to assume that others will not follow through as well.

The consequence of this training should be especially helpful in case other people in the child’s life warn her to stop whining. At first, she may be tempted to "give in" and stop whining. But since you have carefully trained her not to pay any attention to your WARNING, she should be able to resist the temptation to stop whining for fear of punishment.

Use "Ignoring" to Teach Obnoxious Whining:

Our final "advanced technique," which gets similar results to "begging," "arguing," or "warning," is to use the technique called IGNORING. In order to use this technique, it is necessary to make up your mind that you are going to ignore your child every time she starts whining.

In fact, if you want to teach your child to whine really loudly, you are going to have to make up your mind to ignore her whining for as long as humanly possible. However, be very careful. You do not want to actually ignore the whining so effectively that the child actually gives up and stops whining. You only want to ignore the whining until it gets extremely loud and overbearing.

The timing here is critically important. When the child is whining at the "top of her lungs," she may, in fact, be just about ready to stop whining. The careful parent should never actually let her child get to the point where she stops whining altogether. Try to make sure that you "give in" to loud and obnoxious behavior just moments before the child would normally have "given up" and stopped whining.



Child Whines

Child Gets Louder...

Child Gets LOUDER...

Child Gets LOUDER...

Then Give In!

Parent Ignores

Parent Ignores...

Parent Ignores...



By now, you have undoubtedly noticed an important principle of learning. Almost all children will get louder and louder if you ignore their whining.

Unfortunately, the technique of ignoring can be very hard on parents–at least at first. Your child may literally try to "get in your face" and try to get you to reward "somewhat loud" or "moderately loud" behavior. But don’t give in! Hold out until the child displays really loud and obnoxious behavior... and then give in!

If you use this technique properly, the child will soon learn that "soft whining" or "whimpering" doesn’t work any more. Only loud and obnoxious whining is going to be rewarded. In fact, most children will eventually skip the "soft" or "moderate" whining and go directly to the loud and obnoxious whining that you are trying to establish. When this day occurs, you can rejoice because training is almost complete. The only thing you need to do now is to make sure the behavior becomes a permanent part of the child’s life.

Be "Inconsistent" in Order to Strengthen Whining:

Once you have gone to all the effort to teach your child to whine in a loud and obnoxious manner, you will want to make sure that the child never loses this new skill. The best way to accomplish this is to be INCONSISTENT.

On some occasions, don’t give in to your child no matter how loud and obnoxious she becomes. Then, on other occasions, give in as soon as she gets loud and obnoxious. Since your child will never know whether you are going to "give in" or not, you will keep her guessing and she will more likely to keep trying to use the obnoxious whining skill that you have so carefully trained her to perform.

The technique you are utilizing is called INTERMITTENT REINFORCEMENT. You let the child win "every once in a while," and this will almost guarantee that the child’s whining behavior is never completely EXTINGUISHED (or "eliminated"). The technique is similar to that used in the lottery.

Most people keep coming back and playing the lottery because they win "every once in a while." On some occasions, they don’t win at all. On other occasions, they win a little bit of money. On rare occasions, they WIN BIG! Most people keep playing in hopes of winning big. In a similar fashion, your child will keep whining in hopes that you will eventually "give in" to her requests and she will WIN BIG!

By the way, you can often use friends, relatives, or other caretakers to help you train loud and obnoxious whining. Try to make sure that they also "give in" to the child’s whining and that they know how to ignore the child or argue with the child and wait for loud and obnoxious whining before "giving in." Also, make sure that they know how to be inconsistent so that they keep the child "guessing" so that she doesn’t know whether she will be rewarded or not.

Use "Undermining" to Strengthen Whining:

A final technique, and one that is even more advanced, is to argue in front of the child with another adult regarding the training techniques you are using. We will call this technique UNDERMINING.

For example, if your partner is too consistent and uncompromising with your child, try very hard to argue in front of the child about what should be done. That way you can undermine the efforts of the other person who may be trying to reduce or eliminate the loud and obnoxious whining that you have so carefully trained your child to perform.

Be careful, some parents actually "punish" whining and reward "non-whining" behavior. Such techniques can be completely devastating to your attempts to teach loud and obnoxious behavior to your child. UNDERMINING is a wonderful technique for "neutralizing" the attempts by others to train your child not to whine.

With any luck, your child will soon learn that even if Dad or Grandma actually punish the child for whining, or absolutely refuse to give in to whining, your child can rest assured that she can count on you to "get around" the hard guys. Regardless of the rules that others may make and try to enforce, your child can always count on coming to you to get rewarded for whining.

There you have it! You have successfully taught your child to whine loudly and obnoxiously.

Here Are the Main Points To Keep in Mind:

·  Begin training when your child is young.

·  Even if your child can’t talk, reward whining noises and whining sounds.

·  As the child gets older, try not to accidentally reward mature (non-whining) requests.

·  Reward whining behavior frequently at first, then start using more advanced training techniques.

·  Teach your child LOUD and OBNOXIOUS whining by delaying the process of "giving in."

·  Try begging your child to stop whining, but never actually punish your child for whining.

·  Try arguing with your child until she gets loud and obnoxious, then "give in" to her demands.

·  When arguing, convey to your child that you are tentative and insecure.

·  Listen to everything the child says when arguing with her, even if she doesn’t make any sense.

·  Talk "over your child’s head" when arguing in order to confuse and frustrate her.

·  Negotiate with your child–and give her part of what she demands-- after you have held out as long as possible.

·  Make sure you respond to your child’s attempts to make you feel guilty for not "giving in."

·  Warn your child over and over again about what you are going to do if she doesn’t stop whining–but never follow through on your idle threats.

·  Try ignoring your child until she gets loud and obnoxious...then give in.

·  When your child gets loud and obnoxious, you should also get loud and obnoxious.

·  To strengthen the whining response, try to be inconsistent in how you respond to it.

  • If other people try to interfere with your whining training, make sure that you undermine their efforts







Now that you have taught your child to whine, you may be wishing that you were not such a good teacher. If you would like to reverse the process and reduce or eliminate whining, here are some things you should do.

Refuse to Respond to "Whining" Requests:

Children are always asking parents to give them things or to let them do things. When your young child makes a request such as "Mommy, can I have a cookie?" teach her that you are not going to grant her what she wants (even if it is a reasonable request) if she uses a whining tone of voice. Say something such as the following:



What to Say When Your Child Whines

"If you whine, you don't get anything. If you ask me without whining, I'll be glad to give you a cookie."

(Note:  Try not to engage your child in conversation. Just keep repeating the above statements regardless of what she may say or how she may protest.)

Punish the Whining Behavior Rather Than Reward It:

At times, children will repeatedly whine in order to try to get what they want. When teaching your child to STOP whining, it is important to look at the CONSEQUENCE you give her for whining.



  Child whines........................................


  BEHAVIOR->-> -> -> -> -> ->->->->


If you want the frequency of your child's whining behavior to decrease, you should try using mild PUNISHMENT for whining by giving the child a CONSEQUENCE that is unpleasant or undesirable. Technically speaking, any consequence for a behavior that leads to a decrease in the frequency of that behavior in the future is called a PUNISHER (or PUNISHMENT).

There are many different types of punishers you can use to try to decrease the frequency of a child's whining, such as the following:

Use "Timeout" To Punish Whining:

Send your child to her room for a brief period of time as a punishment for whining. In general, the length of time the child is sent to timeout is "one minute for every year the child has lived." For example, if the child is 3 years old, you would send her to timeout for 3 minutes.



  Child whines........................................

  TIMEOUT (Go To Your Room)

  BEHAVIOR->-> -> -> -> -> ->->->->

  CONSEQUENCE (Punishment)

After the designated time period is up, you can allow your child to come out of timeout-provided that she has been quiet for at least 15-30 seconds at the end of the timeout period. If she is still whining or being disruptive at the end of the timeout period, keep waiting until she has been quiet for at least 15-30 seconds, then you can let her out of her room.

Note: Never let your child out of her room just because the designated timeout period has ended. Always wait for her to be quiet for at least 15-30 seconds before opening the door.

After you let your child out of timeout, she may start whining again or try to engage you in conversation. Many parents make the mistake of talking to their children after timeout. In general, this is a bad idea.

After your child is allowed out of timeout, do not engage her in conversation. Just go about your life as normal. Do not try to talk to her about her whining, or express how sorry you are that you had to put her in timeout. If you allow you child to engage you in conversation after timeout, you will almost certainly reward behaviors you do not want to see in your child.

For example, many children will try to induce guilt and punish their parents for putting them in timeout by telling them something like "You're a bad mommy or daddy." Also, immediately after coming out of timeout, your child may start whining again and arguing with you about getting what she wants.

If your child starts whining again after you let her out of timeout, give her one warning and if she doesn't stop whining, send her to timeout again and repeat the procedure given above.

Use "Overcorrection" to Reduce Whining:

"Overcorrection" is a behavioral procedure that many school teachers have been known to use. Remember what would happen if you ran down the hallway when you should have been walking. The teacher would usually make you go back to the point where you started running and "practice" walking over and over again. Not only did you "correct" the original mistake (by walking instead of running), you were required to "overcorrect" the situation by practicing walking the same path over and over again.



  Child whines........................................


  BEHAVIOR->-> -> -> -> -> ->->->->

  CONSEQUENCE (Punishment)

When using overcorrection, you require the child to "correct" the incorrect behavior and then have her practice correcting the behavior over and over again. There are different types of overcorrection you can use for whining. We will focus on two techniques.

Overcorrection:  Repeat the Request (Without Whining)

One way to use OVERCORRECTION to reduce the frequency of whining is to require the child to make her request again-without whining-and then to repeat the request a certain number of times. Here is an example:



An Example of Overcorrection for Whining

"Mary, I've asked you to stop using a whining voice when you ask for something. If you want me to give you a cookie, you're going to have to practice asking me 5 times without whining. Go ahead. Let's hear you ask without whining. If you ask 5 times without whining, I'll consider giving you a cookie."

In the above example, if your child successfully asks for a cookie 5 times without whining you can decide to reward her by giving her the cookie after the 5th repetition. If she argues with you or doesn't want to do the repetitions, then don't give her the cookie.

Overcorrection: "Writing Lines" to Reduce Whining

Another way of using OVERCORRECTION for whining behavior is to have the child "write lines" that logically relate to the whining behavior. When using this procedure you may want to use one "warning"--BUT ONE WARNING ONLY-before requiring your child to "write lines." Here is an example.



"Writing Lines"

Mary, if you don't stop whining immediately, you're going to have to go to your room and "write lines." (Mary doesn't stop whining). Ok, please go to your room and write: "I will learn to stop whining" 50 times. When you're finished, you can come out and show me.

Of course, the actual number of lines your require your child to write will depend upon her age and how long it will take her to complete the task. Make sure that the number of lines you require her to write is "sufficient to really count."

For some children, writing ten sentences won't take very long and is not very punishing. However, for other children, writing ten sentences is like being in prison for a very long time. (In general, making the child work for at least 10-15 minutes is sufficient to make your point and to reduce whining).

Don't Keep Warning Your Child Over and Over:

As mentioned earlier, you want to avoid warning your child over and over again that you are going to punish her for whining. Just give one warning and if she doesn't stop, follow through with punishment. In general, give your child about 3 seconds to comply.



Only Give One Warning...Then Follow Through With Action


Taylor, if you don't stop whining immediately, you'll have to go to timeout.


(Child doesn't stop whining within 3 seconds.)


Taylor, Go to Timeout

Use The "Broken Record" Technique:

When you attempt to punish your child for whining, she will probably try to engage you in conversation and "talk you out of" the punishment. Do not get involved in conversation. You will almost certainly get "sucked into a black hole" from which there is no escape. Remember, for a child, DELAY IS VICTORY. If she can get you involved in talking about the punishment (or any other topic), she is winning and she will keep doing it as long as you will allow her. Here is an example of the "Broken Record" technique.



The "Broken Record" Technique


John, You didn't stop whining so you have to go to timeout.


But Mom, I'll Stop Whining.....Please don't make me go there.


John, go to timeout.


But it's not fair. You're a mean mommy.


John, go to timeout.


Wait mommy! Wait Mommy! Let me tell you something.


|John, go to timeout.

Use A Firm Tone of Voice:

Your child will tend to whine less if you use a firm and definite tone of voice when interacting (rather than a "tentative" and "insecure" tone of voice). For example, if your child asks your permission to go outside and you do not want her to go, get her attention and say very firmly something like: No, you are not allowed to go outside.  Make it sound like you really mean it. If your child protests and starts whining, repeat your statement in the same firm and definite manner (using the "Broken Record" technique, shown above). Remember, if your child judges by the tone of your voice that she can get "through you" or "around you," you're in for a bad day.

Never "Give In" To Your Child's Whining:

All of us get tired and make mistakes. Sometimes we are very tempted to just "give in" to our child's whining requests in order for them to stop "bugging" us and leave us alone. Unfortunately, the relief you get by giving in to your child's whining is only short term.

When you "give in" and let the child do what she wants, she will almost always reward you for your actions by stopping whining-at least for a short time. But now that she has learned that she can get through your defenses, she will undoubtedly whine more and more in the future (when she wants something or when she wants to get her way).

Unfortunately, parenting is often a matter of: PAY ME NOW OR PAY ME LATER. That is, if you don't take action when you need to, or if you give in when you shouldn't, you are probably going to "pay for it later." There is usually no easy way out of "stepping up to the plate" and taking action.

Here Are the Main Points To Keep in Mind:

  • Refuse to Respond to "Whining" Requests:
  • Punish the Whining Behavior Rather Than Reward It:
  • Use "Timeout" To Punish Whining:
  • Use "Overcorrection" to Reduce Whining:
  • Have the Child Repeat the Request (Without Whining)
  • Have the Child "Write Lines" to Reduce Whining
  • Don't Keep Warning Your Child Over and Over
  • Only Give One Warning...Then Follow Through With Action
  • Use The "Broken Record" Technique:
  • Use a Firm Tone of Voice
  • Never "Give In" To Your Child's Whining: