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Dealing with nagging and whining

By Camilla McGill. March , 2018
Whilst teaching a parenting class this week, one of the parents asked me how to deal with incessant nagging. This is a question that I’m asked frequently. The problem with nagging is that it has usually become a habit for the child. They nag, we ignore, they nag a bit more, we engage with them, usually to tell them they can't have what they want, and they go on and on. Of course there are many occasions when we are so worn down that we crack: "Okay, fine, have the biscuit, but only one. Okay, you can have three, but no more and promise you’ll eat your dinner."

And there we have it. We've engaged in a battle and guess who won? However, if we remove the battle and refuse to engage with the nagging, we can make a huge difference.

"Do you think if you ask over and over again that I might change my mind? I can see why you’d think that, as I’ve changed my mind in the past, but I've made a new rule and it is that I'm going to stick with my decision. What did I say you couldn't do?"

If your child tends to whine, ask her to speak to you in a polite tone of voice and explain that she should make a request rather than a demand. So instead of whining, “I'm thirsty,” tell her that she must ask for a drink politely. Explain to her cheerfully, "You need to make a request. You can ask me, 'Mummy, please can I have some water?'". If she continues to make the request with a whine, you must stick to the rule and get her to repeat the request until she can ask without whining. It sounds tedious, and perhaps pedantic, but it will make such a difference in the long run. It will teach them how to use the correct tone of voice when making a request and it will mean you can stop criticising them for whining.