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Five-Year-Old Whine-Baby

January 15, 1996

My daughter Shalom came home telling the following experience.
I told her to go write it down. This is the view of a fourteen-year-old in her own words.
My friend and I returned from the store with ice-cream. When we meet her little brother and sister and gave them some ice-cream, he just whined as usual. He always wants something different from what you give him. But his older sister usually just says, “No, eat that one,” or sometimes she gives him hers. This little boy whines about a lot of stuff to get his way.
Later that afternoon my friend was giving coffee to her daddy and the little boy whined for some as well. But after several times of whining and her saying “No” he finally gave up and started whining for hot-chocolate. When the sister said “No,” again he continued to whine. She kept saying, “You can have water but no coffee or chocolate.” By this time I could see that they were training him into a whine-baby, so I said, “No, he can’t have water either, if he is going to whine for it. He went into the corner and pouted at me for not giving in to his whining.
I explained to the sister that when he whined for a different ice-cream bar, I would not give him any ice-cream at all. After three times he would be happy with what he got.
When whining for coffee or hot-chocolate instead of rewarding him with water, I would say, “No water for an hour or until we eat dinner.” Do not reward whining, no matter what happens.

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10 comments on “Five-Year-Old Whine-Baby”

  1. Basic needs are basic needs. I appreciate that this article starts out talking about ice cream. It leads into withholding water.

    Another way to approach this situation is to address it quickly, telling the child what will work. For example, “Johny, that’s whining. Whining doesn’t work with me – or it won’t get you what you want. What does work is asking in a regular tone of voice.” Isn’t that the point – teaching the child appropriate behavior?

    This option allows for quick self-correction from the child, by choice.

  2. Correcting your child when they are doing something you don’t like is good, but you need to also train your child how to do the right thing. If all your child hears is, “Don’t whine,” then they just know what not to do. Patiently and redundantly say, “No, you need to say, ‘Sister/Mommy/Brother, may I please have some water?'” Then make them repeat it word for word after you.

    I have noticed that a lot of people wait until their kids talk to start using manners, and likewise a lot of people don’t use manners, but expect their kids to. Do you say to your spouse things without manners, or shout commands at your kids? If so, your kids will not do any differently. When I ask my child to do something I say “Please,” “Thank you,” “You’re welcome,” and now he just says, “Please,” “Thank you,” and “You’re welcome” for things without thinking; It’s second nature. When all a child hears is manners, it is easier for them to speak that language of kindness and manners more naturally.

  3. This is a reply to Christina’s comments. I have a 6- and 8-year-old and always did what you have said about manners. I’m still getting the whining and complaining, that isn’t working; they’re good-hearted kids and loving to people and I want to keep that going.

    Every one is so scared to try new ways that are old and tried for hundreds of years. If the problems keep going on something does have to change. Our chiropractor had the book “To Train Up A Child.” At first I thought, “No way,” but as I read more it made a whole lot of sense. In my view of kids, when they don’t have any correction they grow up to be bossy, demanding and bratty. I’m not perfect and do need to change what I do also, there’s always room to improve.

    We’re a God-loving family and do believe that this book has a wonderful outcome for people who want to improve their lives in raising children. I do see how our therapists and how the worldly view of raising children is not going anywhere; it’s an epidemic that our children are running around in control and depressed because we serve them and spoil them.

    We have had three therapists and I don’t think they’re cutting it. I’ve been divorced for almost four years now and there was abuse done to the kids and child protection was involved and there is behavior that stems from this and the divorce.

    We did think about it spot (time-out) and talked on what happened and what we can do instead, all of it and no improvements – done that – doesn’t work. So we’re going to start over and really change how we are as adults and parents.

    Michael Pearl and family, thank you for this wonderful book and the insight it has.

    God bless you all

  4. Similar to what those above expressed, what’s worked well for us is “try again.” I explain to my daughter that an ungrateful attitude receives nothing and that if she wants or needs something, she knows how to ask. I started off giving her the opportunity to try again, and now she asks if she can try again. She still slips up, but training a child is a long-term process, not a short-term one.

  5. What about when a child whines about meals? I have a 7yr old son that complains about nearly any food he gets, negotiates about what part of the meal he ‘has’ to eat, sometimes he’ll even reprove me for serving him food that I know he dislikes (his father does this often – it’s hard to train your children not to do something that a parent does all the time). Should I make him skip the meal, then spank for the tantrum that is sure to follow? Or spank for whining and force him to eat anything that is served? My goal is to get my children to eat anything that is placed in front of them without complaint…

    1. I would love to know the answer to that too! I am sick of racking my brain for “kid friendly” foods when maybe I want sushi! Or throwing fish sticks on a tray for them which is not very healthy. I don’t expect them to like everything, I can remember being made to eat lima beans AND liver…in the same meal! I almost threw up. I would love this mystery solved too!

  6. The advice is good. But please, make an exception for water…

    The reasoning isn’t good. You shouldn’t say “you can have water instead”, nor should you say “no water for an hour too”. You should just say no.

    If a child want water, forfsake just give it, it’s a basic need.

    Privation to teach a child that whining won’t get him anything has its limits.

  7. My 10 yr old is constantly picked on by his older sister and younger brother. They exclude him for no apparent reason and are just plain mean to him. I try not to defend him or side with him. We talk and discipline them about their meanness. He is becoming a feel sorry for me kind of boy and I hate it, but on the other hand they are being unfair. Please help me. know what to do!!! I explain life is not fair but what happens when you experience that hostility among siblings. He is typically the kinder of the four. Thank you!