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As any mom of young (and sometimes not-so-young) kids can attest: a squeaky wheel or fingernails on a chalkboard have nothing on the sound of a stubborn, incorrigible, whiny child. And while whining may come with a territory, you may not be as powerless as you think to stop it. In fact, a few strategic tactics (along with a few deep breaths), may help you transport your child from whine-city back to a healthier — and quieter — place.
Patience and incessant whining don't exactly go hand in hand, but yelling, snapping or lashing out at the offending child can make matters even worse. Your kids know you better than you think, and they know how to get a reaction out of you. Since attention — any attention — may be what your child is looking for, he may continue until you respond in kind. Instead, calmly inform your little whiner that you'll be happy to speak with him when he can talk to you in a calm and normal voice. Then, continue on with whatever you're doing, like combing the house for earplugs.
Keep them on schedule
More times than not, a tired child is a whiny child. After too many hours of stimulation, your little one may just be exhausted. And as with any human, fatigue can breed some unattractive characteristics. According to Super Nanny, when your child whines, it's a good idea to assess the situation: could she just be tired? Keeping your little one on a regular naptime schedule can help her feel her best, which may help the whining situation. Take a look at other factors, too. Might your child be hungry or sick? Self-expression isn't exactly well-honed at this phase of development, so you may need to assess the situation yourself.
Cut out the junk food
Just as you don't feel your best when you're eating greasy French fries and drinking sugar-loaded soft drinks, neither do your kids. In fact, a steep rise in blood sugar followed by a dramatic decline can make kids feel shaky, sluggish and, more than likely, whiny. Keep a tab on your child's sugar intake. According to the Mayo Clinic, from ages 6 to 11, kids should have no more than 20 teaspoons, or 320 calories, of sugar per day. To put this in perspective, one can of non-diet soda packs about 10 teaspoons of sugar.
No, that doesn't mean condoning annoying whiny behavior. But establishing an official "complaining time" can be a good way to help kids vent their frustrations and then move on. According to Empowering Parents, giving your children just 10 minutes a day to complain and whine can help them curb the habit until the next established complaining time. Just be sure to keep the little ones on time — or that 10 minutes can easily turn into an eternity.
Keep their minds busy
Busy little minds rarely have time to find reasons to whine or complain. Keep your kids engaged in something productive in order to curb their tendency to whine (and preserve your own sanity). Of course, you'll need to make sure that your kids' learning activities are also engaging, or they'll have even more to whine about!
Primal Math offers fun and engaging ways to keep young minds busy. Check out the new Zombie Fish Bits app, where fun and learning meet and whining and complaining end.
Kristen has a journalism degree and has experience writing in a variety of fields, including art and culture, health and fitness and financial and real estate services. Kristen has written for USA Today, SFGate and the Knot.