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The Ugly Truth About Whining

Updated: May 19, 2022

We all do it, so lead by example and drop ‘whinese’.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if our kids stopped whining every five minutes or when they wanted something?!

But the truth is, we all whine. I know. Shock horror! But even I whine.

And this realisation came to yours truly as a surprise.

One day my preschooler (ex-toddler) was whining happily for a prolonged period of time. I was exhausted. I kept asking her to stop alongside asking my husband (more rhetorically than expecting an answer) how we could teach her to stop whining.

His reply was priceless: ‘we should not whine ourselves to show her a good example’.


Excuse me?

I never whine. Ever. Like never, ever.

And then it dawned on me that I hadn't really thought about what whining was. To me, it’s something children do. But according to the dictionary, whining is the making of a long, high-pitched cry or sound.

The next time I played with my child, my husband pointed out that I whined when talking to her. Instead of getting stroppy, I reflected on my so-called ‘whining.’

And guess what? He was right. I was whining. I extended my vowels and instead of asking her ‘please’, I’d say ‘pleeease’. And that’s exactly how whining is born!

In my head, I was being silly and playful. But my child does not know the difference yet. So she’d be picking up my behaviour and learning from it. She’d be learning ‘whinese’ instead of English.

It’s a fact that whining is one of the most annoying sounds, and it is super effective as we can't ignore it. Mother nature has invented it to get our attention.

That's what science got to say about it:

Whines appear to be integral members of a suite of vocalizations designed to get the attention of attachment partners by playing to an auditory sensitivity among humans.- Evolutionary Psychology, Sage Journals.

So it’s there for a good reason. We cannot ignore it. Does it mean we should accept it as part of life and put up with the sounds of an untuned orchestra?


We should not be overusing it only because it’s there. And we should teach our kids to only use it, well, maybe never. Alright, sometimes. Or it might be the boy who cried wolf all over again.

So the answer is very simple: lead by example and avoid using whiney language as a parent.

It’s easier said than done, I know.

In my case, realising I am guilty of whining, playfully or not, should help me to teach my children not to whine… every day.

And the new rule of our household is: we don’t keep sugary treats, and we don’t use ‘whinese’.

But most importantly, we are still playing it by ear and simply hoping for the best.


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