A Developmental Understanding of Fine “Whine!”

The Sound of Silence is Divine …
Give Me What I Want and You’ll Hear No More Whining!

Children who require adult protection and sustenance must possess a signal system that gets the attention of parents and adult nurturers. This signal should be annoying enough to motivate the parent or adult nurturer to provide what the child demands, so that the child will stop. The cry of non-verbal babies and the pattern of sounds and words of the toddler are two such signals that are harsh to the ears of parents and caregivers. The “whine” of older children is a verbal signal of distress that combines language with feeling projected in the tone and duration of sounds. The use of “whining” by the child is strengthened because it works to get the child’s needs met.

Understanding the Purpose of the Child’s Whine and Give Positive Alternatives to Whining

To combat whining, understand the purpose of the whine and give positive behavioral alternatives to whining. Rule out illness, temperamental irritability, sleep disorders, behavioral problems, anxiety, depression, biological irritability and others. Provide support for the child, not the object of the whine: Empathy and Attention! What is most important is overall  family health and wellness. Eliminate or minimize any direct stressors if they are the cause of, or increase the likelihood of the child’s whining. Family preservation will be tested unnecessarily if positive alternatives to whining are not introduced.

Reel in the “Needy” Whine:

         “ I know that you are…”

         “I hear the whine. Talk in a strong voice and I will help you get what you want.”

In this example you give the child a positive alternative to whining and refocus their efforts to gain the pleasure they seek. Giving the kid, child or children positive alternatives to whining reinforce decision making, self-control, patience and obedience for the kid, child or children.

Reel in the “Greedy” Whine:

        “I hear the whine. It will not get you what you want. You will be all right without it!”

Stick to Your Guns and Notice That the Child’s Efforts at Control

Reel in The “Public and Telephone” Whine: 

Ignore the whining and wait for a silence or strong word to respond.

Reel in The “Time ” Whine:

This is the display of discomfort at transitions or when the child’s time perception is shorter than the adults. Cue the child that transitions are upcoming. Teach the child to be accurate in his or her time estimation and keep your “in a minute” promises!

 In summary, use labeling, redirection, ignoring, humor, empathy, and attention to positives, as the antidote to the “Whine.” Be sure no physical illness, anxiety, depression or other direct stressors aren’t heavily effecting your kid, child, children’s irritability and whining. Overall, family health and wellness is the parent or caregivers ultimate goal.

– by Frank Doberman, PhD

Dr. Frank Doberman is Co-Founder of Karner Psychological Associates (KPA) and is a leader in the fields of clinical psychology, is a Licensed Psychologist, Certified in School Psychology, Educational Administration and is a regular contributor to News 10 WTEN.

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