“Role modelling, without shame, is a key to success” – 5 steps to stop your kid from whining, according to a parenting coach

She’s helped hundreds of families stop their children from moaning

Toddler whining on the sofa
(Image credit: Getty Images)

We go above and beyond for our kids, so when our efforts are met with constant complaints, it can be challenging to keep your cool as a parent. 

All children will moan, so try to take comfort from the fact that this behaviour is not a reflection of your parenting style – and feeling annoyed, frustrated, or angry when faced with constant complaints is normal. Parenting coach Jennifer Martin tells us: “It’s one of our many jobs to teach [children] how to talk to us and role modelling for them, without shame, is a key to success.”

Giving in to their demands without a method of correcting the behaviour will permit them to continue using those techniques to get what they want, which could be a downside of permissive parenting. Jennifer explains: “The best way to stop your children from complaining is to try and understand what they are asking from you. Once you know their end goal, you can teach them better ways to ask for the things they want or need from you.”

The sooner you find ways to redirect your child’s moaning, the easier your communication with them will become. Here’s how to do just that.

5 steps to stop your child from whining

1. Check their basic needs are being met

More often than not, whiny kids just want your attention because, you’re their number one person, right? First, Jennifer advises to check the basics with your child and make sure they aren't hungry, tired, bored or hurt. “Spend a few minutes on their level, with eye contact, exploring what the need is at that moment. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to turn the attitude tide, but if those needs are adequately filled and the behaviour continues, move on to the other strategies.”

2. Teach them to use their ‘big kid’ voice

If a child is whining for something they want, instruct them to use their ‘big kid’ voice instead of their regular tone. You can kindly show them the difference between the way they are speaking and how to ask like a big kid would. Jennifer explains: “Let them know that their ‘big kid’ voice is far more likely to get them the things they want in the future, and this creates positive reinforcement to use their regular voice, instead of whining or complaining.”

3. Be careful not to shame them

It makes sense that children don’t have the skills to maturely ask for the things they desire yet, so their moaning, whining and complaining will often get them a ‘quick win’ because parents don’t want to listen to it. When you feel yourself getting annoyed with the whining (which, you undoubtedly will), Jennifer advises taking some deep breaths and letting your child know that, in the long run, people won’t respond well to it. “Be careful not to shame them, but instead educate them that when using their regular voice, people will respond better to their needs. Role model to them in a calm way how you want them to ask for the things they want.”

4. Save it for later

So many parents will relate to having a child peppering them with requests for something they want when you’re out shopping, and as soon as you say ‘no’, the whining begins. Luckily, Jennifer has a genius strategy up her sleeve to offset this response: “Take a photo of the item they are asking for and add it to an album on your phone titled ‘gift ideas’. You can show them that it’s been added to the queue for upcoming birthdays, holidays, or as a reward for something in the future. Then when those dates come up, it’s easy to share with family or friends and reinforces the promise that you will purchase the things you already know they want.” Why didn’t we think of that sooner? 

5. Start a complaint book

Journaling has been a useful tool for adults to get their thoughts out of their head and onto paper, helping them to offload stress or worries, so why not encourage the kids to do something similar if they’re old enough to write? Jennifer calls it a ‘complaint book’, where children can write down a list of things they’re not happy with: “Once they’re done, create a second column on the page and ask them to write out ways they think they can fix the problem. They may need help with this at first, so plan to spend a few minutes showing them what you mean. This will begin to teach your child to find resolutions for themselves when faced with things that frustrate or aggravate them.” 

The final word? “Remember that consistency is critical and your child can catch on quickly if these are reinforced with regularity. Before you know it, your child will be asking for what they want, and whining and complaining will be a distant memory for everyone.”

For more parenting techniques, an expert reveals her discipline hack for kids of all ages and this is how to deal with children who laugh at you when you reprimanding them.

Jennifer Martin, Founder and CEO of Jennifer Martin Mindset, Inc.
Jennifer Martin

Jennifer Martin is a parenting coach and speaker, with over 25 years of experience as a certified facilitator and transformation coach. She is the CEO and legacy owner of Pathways to Successful Living Seminars. As a mum of two, she helps take the pain out of parenting by teaching simple techniques to improve connection and communication with children, creating happier and healthier households. With over 45,000 graduates of the Pathways to Successful Living programmes, her organisation has helped thousands of people identify their personal and professional leadership capabilities.

Daniella Gray
Family News & Wellbeing Writer

From building healthy family relationships to self-care tips for mums and parenting trends - Daniella also covers postnatal workouts and exercises for kids. After gaining a Print Journalism BA Hons degree and NCTJ Diploma in Journalism at Nottingham Trent University, Daniella started writing for Health & Wellbeing and co-hosted the Walk to Wellbeing podcast. She has also written for Stylist, Natural Health, The Sun UK and Fit & Well. In her free time, Daniella loves to travel, try out new fitness classes and cook for family and friends.