March 20, 2012

You Can Raise Children Without Whining ~ Reader Mail part 5

Reader, Tania at In the Dovecote, sent in the following question.  Because of the involvement and length of my reply, I have divided it into a series of posts over the course of seven days.

On an unrelated note... how/when do you start training your children? I'm asking because, today I was reading to Bella and she wanted to eat the book (from the library) I said 'no' and held it out of her grasp, and she started to fuss a bit. Now, I don't know if she was fussing because of that or b/c she was tired (it was almost nap time). We want to be firm and train our children right from the start, but on the other hand I don't want to go overboard and be super strict and harsh. 

Eg. the other week we were at the corner store and a mother comes in with her little boy, about 3. She says 'We are just returning the movie and leaving.' He runs over to the candy and starts to say he wants some. She says 'No, come here.' He doesn't obey. Mom stands at the door for a while waiting. Boy starts to whine. Mom walks over to him and says 'no you can't have candy. Let's go.' Boy picks up a candy and runs to the door, saying he wants it. Mom says no, he starts on a temper tantrum. Mom says she is not going to get out her wallet just to pay for a 5 cent candy. Kid continues to whine. She says 'Do you really want me to take out my wallet just to pay for that candy.' He says yes. Finally mom gives a big sigh, hands the cashier .5 as she says 'He just HAS to have that candy!' and the child walks out all happy he got his way. 

My thoughts: Mother should have gone over to the the boy and taken him out of the store the moment he ran over to the candy. Even IF he had a temper tantrum. But my idea is that if he had been trained correctly in the first place, he wouldn't have bothered trying to have a 'temper tantrum'. 

What do you think? Sorry if you've already written a post about this, please just direct me to it. Thanks :o) 



When dealing with whining it is best to begin as you want to go.  (Gary Ezzo uses this concept and I think it is something a parent should commit to heart and mind.)   There are many things to consider here, though.

1- Know the difference between whining, a crying child, and a baby that has a need which must be met.  A mother well in tune with her child should have no trouble recognizing the difference.

2-  Once the reason for whining is determined, you can move ahead.  As you mentioned, is it nap time?  Often an otherwise sweet child becomes whiny because she is tired and we have ignored the more subtle signs.  That does not excuse whining but is something to be aware of.  A tired child is not going to respond well to training.

My Carmella is a child who will whine when she gets tired.  If she lets out a whiny sound, we all look to the clock to see if it is nap time.  99% of the time, it is.  This will be easiest to notice if your child is on a good schedule.  In Carmella's case, we put her in bed and she instantly stops and closes her eyes.

Of course, you will be able to tell if you have a sleepy baby or a whining baby by evaluating the situation.  In Bella's case with the book, it sounds as if she was whining for what you had denied her.

Remember the rule, "A whining child needs a nap or training," consider and then act accordingly.

3- As soon as baby whines she should be denied what she is whining for.... to be picked up, a toy, papa etc...

4- While it is important to deal with whining by never rewarding it by giving what baby wants, it is also important to discipline negative behavior.  I like to say "No whining" and put my finger on baby's lips so she will come to understand what I am talking about is the action of her mouth.  A more firm reminder, such as a gentle thump on the mouth, may be necessary if baby has been allowed to develop the habit of whining.

5- There are times when baby whines because she has not yet learned to communicate what is going on in her head.  The majority of this kind of whining can be dealt with by teaching your child some very simple sign language.  I do not know how to sign, but our children all learned to sign before they spoke.  We learned and taught them words to express their needs and wants without whining.  The following list are good to add to your signing vocabulary.

Thank you

We never took it much further than that.  By the time we had those down we found our little ones could use their words quite effectively to everyone's delight.  I do have a friend who signs and has taught her preschooler to sign quite proficiently.  She recommends "Baby Sign Time" which is available at our local library and on Amazon.  I have recommended this to other moms who rave about the how beneficial these videos are in teaching their little ones to communicate before they learn to speak.  A little added plus, studies show children who sign, have better language skills than their non signing counterparts.

Walk away from this post knowing three things.

1- You can raise children without whining
2- Begin as you intend to go
3-A Whining child either needs a nap or training

Carefully applied these three rules will bring only sweet music to your ears.


  1. I was going to mention signing- I've already been using some signs, like tired, milk, more, bathroom, hungry, with Arabella, although I think she is too little to sign back yet :o).

    1. Keep signing. It will be some time before Bella starts using them but she will!