Last Updated on January 21, 2021 by Creative Parenting
Does listening to your kids whining drive you CRAZY? Parents everywhere, at some point, want to figure out how to stop whining from driving them nuts…
Whether you’re a parent of young kids or old, whether your kids whine a lot or a little, it’s inevitable.
These days, we’re always rushing from one thing to the next. This means we’re more frazzled and less prepared to deal with the whining when it does start.
But your kids’ whining doesn’t have to drive you crazy. While it might be tough to get them to stop altogether, you can take steps to keep your sanity when they do.
In this post, you’ll discover our favorite tips to stay sane when the whining starts to get on our nerves.
Let’s get started!
How To Stop Whining From Driving You Nuts
1. Listen To What Your Kids Are Trying To Tell You
We humans all have needs – think Maslow’s hierarchy.
And our kids have them too. But they have to deal with something we don’t:
They can’t always tell us what it is they’re trying to communicate.
Maybe they’re only starting to learn a few words, but the words they do know aren’t the most sophisticated ones.
Even if you have older kids that do talk, they might articulate emotion differently from what they’re actually feeling.
My point is:
Whenever your kids start to complain or whine, there’s a good chance it’s because of some underlying cause.
That’s why we use three quick questions to check ourselves.
You can do it too.
Use these questions to fine-tune your response;
- Do they have an immediate need RIGHT NOW that you can address?
- Are they hungry/tired/upset/hurt?
- Can you use this as an opportunity to help them develop their communication skills?
Chances are, their emotional response can relate to one of those questions.
Once you’ve done that, it’s next to a matter of thinking about what they’re most upset about FIRST.
Because you gotta figure out that before you can meet all their other needs.
2. Figure Out What’s Top Of Their Mind
When your first kid arrives, it’s a total jolt.
The shift from pre-parenting life to parenting is total. One minute you have oodles of leisure time, then suddenly that vanishes.
Taking care of a human. Meeting their needs. Changing Diapers. Feeding.
The good news is: As a baby, your child’s needs are finite.
If the baby is crying, t’s only a matter of figuring out what’s most bothering them.
What’s on the top of their minds.
That’s why I like to think of it as a mental checklist.
Which I alluded to above, i.e.
In short, it’s using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:
Are their physical needs met?
Do they feel safe?
Are they feeling loved/that they belong?
Did something negatively affect their self-esteem?
Are they reaching their potential?
(This isn’t an exhaustive list of questions but you get the idea).
Figure out which of those is bothering them the most.
You’ll then be ready to tackle the other needs next (if they need to be tackled).
Start at the top of the list – the bottom of the pyramid- and work your way down.
Then you can focus on the higher needs on Maslow’s chart: self-actualization and the like.
For example, things like:
- They want to feel you are there for them.
- They want to feel they’re in a safe environment.
- They want to feel loved by the people closest to them.
- They want to feel like they belong: to a family or community.
… so if it isn’t one of the core physical needs, ask yourself which of the needs related to self-actualization is it?
And what can you do to meet those needs?
Now, granted, kids aren’t going to be aware of Maslow’s hierarchy.
And they’re certainly NOT going to just tell you:
“My self-esteem was hurt today”
(Wouldn’t that be nice if they did?)
But investigating what’s going on with your kid more thoroughly than Sherlock Holmes is often a parent’s job.
Because your kids are still developing (of course).
And that includes their brains (and brain synapses).
Those connections aren’t developed…. yet.
So as parents, we have to help nudge things along and make those connections for them.
So up next?
Here are some ideas (based on the questions above):
3. Remember: They’ve Got A Lotta Years For Their Brain Synapses To Develop
Let’s face it:
Nearly everybody whines.
And adults too.
Sure, there are exceptions.
Some people pride themselves on not complaining.
Maybe you’re one of them?
Even if you are…
I bet you’ve complained at some point.
So sure, even when we don’t want to listen to our kids complain, we’re complaining ourselves.
The good news is we can recognize when we do this. And stop the cycle.
And after we do that?
We can teach our kids how to too.
This is a valuable life skill to learn. The consensus used to be that our brains didn’t change much
as we age. But that’s changed.
Now we know. We can form new synapses even into adulthood. And learning how to do this as adults is the first step to teach our kids how to too.
Are you laser-focused on learning strategies to cope with negative emotions?
For yourself, AND your kids?
If YES. Well done!
Then keep reading…
4. Repeat This Mantra: “They’re Not Social Sophisticates”
There’s something we parents tend to forget a lot:
Kids aren’t socially savvy.
“No kidding!” I can almost hear you say.
Ask yourself this:
How often do we parents really remember this?
I mean really remember.
And respond to their needs at the level that they’re at?
Especially for the really young ones. Have you ever caught yourself in this situation?
Tired from a long day of work. Rushing to fix dinner. And expecting your 2-year-old to act like a 9-year-old.
Unrealistic, isn’t it?
Take a moment. Repeat the mantra. Remember they’re still developing their social skills.
Let ‘Em Giggle, Scream, and Cry…While You Exude Zen
Now that we’ve got a reminder that our little ones are not social sophisticates, let’s focus on getting in a Zen space.
It’s a magic word really. Once you get to a zen place the world seems so….peaceful.
The key is figuring out how to get there.
On a regular basis.
And then stay there.
Now, there’s not really a magical way to get there.
I’ve tried several different approaches over the years.
Meditation. Yoga. Mindfulness. Exercise. Singing.
I could go on…
At the end of the day, they really all boil down to one thing:
Intense. Focused. Mindful breathing. The kind that gets you out of your headspace and into the present moment.
Into your zen.
There are a million ways to make it happen. To get there. And it’s all about HOW you breathe.
In my experience: It’s about making sure your OUT breath is deeper than your in-breath.
Guru’s might tell you otherwise. But that’s what I’ve found to work best.
So try it?
Do some mindful breathing. Exhale deeper than your inhale.
And once you’ve got it down:
Try it with this mantra.
5. When You Say No, Say I Love You
This one’s key.
It’s all about finding the parenting balance.
Where the zen is.
Because just saying “No!” all the time gets old.
And your kids.
Here’s an idea.
Modify it a bit!
First, say YES (more often than you do now)…
I once read an article about a parent doing this on a Saturday morning…
Decided just to say YES to anything the kid wanted. With some restrictions (like no to anything crazy expensive or dangerous).
An interesting and FUN morning. Turned out the kid just wanted to do a bunch of random kid stuff. Nothing totally crazy, but you know, not what you’d usually do on Saturday at 7 a.m.
After you get in the habit of saying yes more, then add the next thing:
Add “I love you” to saying no.
It makes you less of a downer news deliverer.
It reinforces the connection
After all, when they’re acting up (resulting in us saying NO) it usually for a reason…
And no matter the reason it pays to reinforce the parent-child connection.
6. Be Present
Last but not least.
Even though 18-20 years of living with our kids feels like a long time when you’re going through
It really isn’t.
1 year goes by. Then 2. Then 5.
You start to realize:
Only a few years till they move out.
And that can feel exciting at times!
So enjoy it.
While it lasts.
Strive every day to:
Be present in every moment.
7. Make a connection with them. Every chance you get.
The grandparent version of you.
And for your kids…
And a relationship with YOU.
...Take A Deep Breath When The Whining Begins
What other ideas do you have to stop whining from driving you nuts?
P.s. before they start whining, they gotta start talking. Check out our post on that.