What is it about a whiny child that can drive anyone insane? This week’s question comes from a mom of a whining 6-year-old boy. She’s desperate to change his tone but is having no luck. My solution is surprisingly simple.
Q: We have 4 children: a 9-year-old boy, twin boys who are 6, and a 3-year-old girl. This question is about one of the twins. He whines, complains constantly, and falls apart, crying, about little things throughout the day. He has been like this for as long as I can remember. How do we change this pattern?
A: That’s so annoying to have a whiny kid, isn’t it? I had a couple myself, and there’s nothing that brings out the crank in me than a kid who whines and complains. For some kids, it’s their default personality, but that doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.
Most of the time, it’s pure laziness and habit that are fueling the whiny monster. He’s been “allowed” to whine for his entire life, so it’s become adhered to his personality, the way he interacts with the world.
The good news is that he doesn’t have to stay a slave to the whiny monster. The solution is surprisingly simple—and effective. Here’s what you do.
Pick a place in the house that’s kind of secluded, like a rarely used powder room or guest room without much play appeal. Put a sign on the door that designates it as the “Whiny Complaining Crying Room.”
Then, in a chipper voice, you tell all your son that you’ve noticed he has been whiny and complaining lately, crying at the drop of a hat. Since he seems to enjoy that so much, you’ve created a special place for the whining, complaining and crying—his very own “Whiny Complaining Crying Room.” Whenever he starts whining, complaining or crying, he’s to go to that room and he can whine, complain and cry all he wants to.
This is where you really “sell” it. You talk about how wonderful the room will be for his crying, whining and complaining. He’ll look at you like you’re crazy, but that’s okay. Our kids should be a little “unsettled” by our actions at times—keeps them a bit off-balance not knowing what Mom will do next.
The good news is that he doesn’t have to stay a slave to the whiny monster. The solution is surprisingly simple—and effective.
When he starts to whine, complain or cry, simply direct him to the room. Tell him when he’s through whining, complaining or crying, he may come out. This is key—you’re giving him leave when he’s finished. So you basically ignore the crying/complaining/whining, and direct him to the special room.
Then wait for the incidences to lessen. They won’t go away entirely—he’s not perfect, after all—but this should both remove him from the family when he whines/complains/cries AND help him develop self-control in regards to his whining/complaining/crying.
Plus, you’re not arguing with him about the whining/complaining/crying and you’re not entering a power struggle with him to stop his whining/complaining/crying. Win-win for everyone!