Why Does Your Child Whine

By: Dr Randy Cale

Ever wonder why “whining” is becoming an epidemic in our schools, our homes, and in our culture?

It is easy to understand, when you imagine yourself in this position:

You are in line at the grocery store, with a dozen people surrounding you. You threaten your daughter that she would get nothing, if she started whining. You have almost made it…the door is in site!

But then it begins…she sees the chocolate bar, and this reminds her that you said “no” when she asked for the chocolate milk. She starts in … “Mommy, I want my chocolate milk.”

You say, “No. I told you we aren’t getting chocolate milk every time we go to the store.”

She says, “But Mom…I really want chocolate milk. Why are you so mean to me?

You say something like… “Look here. If you think this is mean, you haven’t seen mean yet. So just shush…and we can go home and play outside before dark.”

She says, “I don’t want to play if I don’t get my chocolate milk. Please …. Pleassssseeee… Plesssssseeee Mommmmmmmyyyyyyyy.”

By now, her voice is very loud. You are embarrassed, frustrated and know that you shouldn’t give in.

Maybe you do. Maybe you don’t.

Giving in is bad. We know that right.

But guess what? Either way you are going to lose… if this type of conversation continues. You will grow a “whiner” regardless of your buying the chocolate or not!

And it can truly drive you crazy! It can drive us all crazy!

So, let’s try to understand why kids whine. This will point you to the solution!

Do not take this habit lightly. Understand the reasons as well as cons of such a behavior.

Why Is “Whining” Such A Serious Problem For Kids?

Whining Is Not Built On Reality Based Needs

If your family is a reasonably happy family with lots of opportunities to grow, loving members, and a good purchasing power, then there should not be much to complain for your child. Your child’s room is brimming with toys, you have enrolled your child in a good school, and you are ready to give your support to your child, yet he or she complains. What is the problem?

The problem is that your kid has a distortion of reality. They are focused on just a small part of their experience in life. This focus on the small part where they don’t get what they want is really a toxic poison…because their reality if filled with many, many moments when they are getting everything a child could want.

If whining continues, the perspective taken is one that selectively finds where there is “lack” in the world…and consistently ignores where there is abundant resources, safety, comfort, entertainment, food, water, electricity, etc. All of these are quickly taken for granted as givens…and the focus on what’s missing leads to unhappiness, disappointment and negativity…all based upon a distorted reality.

Whiners Are Unhappy People

Children who whine find it hard to enjoy the wonderful things of life, as they do not have the eye to appreciate. Whining kids are more busy digging out the imperfect things in life rather than taking pleasure from what they have. Such kids, if they are not able to buy something, even for the first time, will start whining.

It’s really bizarre, as we see children at the theme park for the day…crying after 17 rides…because NOW their most favorite ride of all is closing early today due to maintenance.

Focusing on what isn’t right in their world is a sure fire formula for unhappiness.

Whining Repels Healthy Friends And Attracts Other Whiners

As your kids grow, they will tend to connect with people who are whiners as well. Cheerful people will not like to stay with whiners. So, your child will likely be deprived of a healthy peer group.

Later in life, this leads your child without a resource to ground them in a more reality-based approach. Your teen IM’s their friends, telling them what jerks you are for not letting him buy the video, Mortal Combat. Forty-five minutes of dad bashing, and complaining escalates to an absurd level of unhappiness over the right parenting choice.

Wouldn’t it be nice instead to have your son attracting friends who aren’t interested in such whining and complaining, and instead just invites your son over to shoot some basketball…and then ends the conversation with, “And stop whining Sam. You got the best dad on the block, and he just doesn’t want you to play that crap. Come on over and I will kick your butt in some one-on-one hoop.”

The problem is that whining children cannot attract friends of this quality…not ever!

So, Why Does My Child Whine When I Tell Them To Stop?

It is no use telling your kid to stop whining, or negotiating, or rescuing them from their sadness. They will whine more than ever.

Have you noticed this?

You correct them…and a few minutes later…the whining is back, but louder and stronger.

If your words worked to stop whining, I would be out of business! It’s true! Your words will never get the whining to stop.

You know that this is true…because you have tried all the words you can.

So instead, you need action. What kinds of action?

Do The Opposite Of Arguing, Fighting Or Negotiating With The Whining.

The catch here is to become action-oriented rather than complaining yourself about your child’s habit!

However, do not expect the habit to vanish in a day’s time. But you can change your pattern of responding, and do the opposite of what you have done so far…FEEDING IT! As long as you feed it with your attention…the whining will definitely grow.

You have to have a lot of patience for this. At times, you might even be tempted to rescue your kid from the web of whine. However, do not commit this mistake. If you pay attention to your kid’s whining all the time, he or she will perceive that the world cares about the whining.


The healthy world will not invest in their whining.

This approach will get you started. The road ahead is a tough one, as you begin to use your parenting power in a different way.

Change is not instant. Don’t expect that.

Instead, expect that your child will resist, and you must be prepared to remember this article, and the foundation upon which the whine is built!

For a complete solution to this problem, you can check out my complete

Wipe Out the Whining Program, which I offer here. This program will walk you through every detail so that you know exactly what to do, when to do it, and how to do it…so that the whining is gone in a short time (7-14 days usually…for ALL types of kids). Check out the details here: Wipe Out the Whining Program

You can also read about some parents who have written about their whining child, and their successes and struggles on the parenting forum here at Terrific Parenting. I hope to hear from you.

Take care,

Randy L. Cale, PhD

Copyright © 1999-2024 • TerrificParenting.com • Randy L. Cale, Ph.D. • 634 Plank Rd, Suite 101, Clifton Park, NY 12065