Whining in Children: Real or Manipulation?

It's not always about tantrums without justification. Your child's whining could have an important origin which should be considered and attended to.
Whining in Children: Real or Manipulation?

Last update: 20 September, 2018

Whining arises as a way for children to channel frustration when they lack the ability to solve a problem. Whining in children is often used as a means of expression in situations of nonconformity.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that whining can also become a tool that children use to manipulate their parents.

When whining begins, it’s important to correct the behavior immediately. A “whiny” child is more likely to become a victimized adult – that is, a person who is convinced that nothing ever goes their way. As a result, they’ll have issues solving their own problems.

Whining in children becomes common behavior after the age of 5. From that age on, children will always try to use it as a tool to evade their responsibility. During this phase, the most important thing is how parents manage the little one’s whining.

Justified whining in children

It’s difficult for children to express their emotions. This is due to their lack of maturity and communication tools. That’s why they often whine to let you know how they feel.

Justified whining or complaining refers to when they have grounds to do so. For example, when whining is due to physical discomfort or displeasure caused by bullying or any other valid reasons.

When children complain, it helps them transmit their nonconformity to the situation. Parents can use it as a powerful resource to know how their children feel about a certain situation. Justified whining can provide space for conversation among parents and their children.

Whining in Children: Real or Manipulation?

Whining as a form of manipulation

In most cases, children whine in order to reach an objective. Constant whining accompanied by tantrums and screams could be their way of coercing their parents to get what they want.

When they whine under these circumstances, it’s a resource they use to manipulate parents who try to avoid conflict at all costs.

When children whine, it’s usually their way to deal with changes and also to measure their influence. Educating your children about good manners can prevent whining from becoming a habit they could carry over into adulthood.

“Whining is a child’s way to express nonconformity towards certain situations. However, keep in mind that whining can also be used to manipulate parents.”

How to handle children who whine excessively?

An effective way to control your children’s whining is to find out its origin. When there is no real reason for their whining, it’s best to remain calm. Although there is no magic formula to eliminate whining, the following suggestions can be helpful:

  • Respond to your child once. When whining is being used as a tool to manipulate parents, children may whine repeatedly. Their first complaint is usually the only one that is caused by real discomfort.
  • Look for the origin. Why is your child whining? Does he have real reasons to do so? These questions can help you see his whining through an objective lens.
Whining in Children: Real or Manipulation?
  • Don’t give into your child’s manipulation. When your child is trying to manipulate you, don’t give into his demands. If the child realizes that you’ll give in if he whines enough, then he’ll intensify his whining.
  • Ignore tantrums. If your child’s whining is accompanied by tantrums, it’s best to avoid reacting just yet. Wait for the child to calm down before correcting his behavior.

The effects of whining

Some specialists claim that whining can have negative effects on the brain. Being exposed to whining constantly can slow down your brain’s functioning. Just 30 minutes of whining is enough to reduce the brain’s functions.

Whining can also cause depression since it encourages negative repercussions such as low self-esteem, insecurity and inability to overcome challenges. That’s why in some cultures, people who complain constantly are considered to be toxic people.

Whining can interfere with your child’s personal and professional development.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.