I am keeping my sister's children for the summer, and two of them (7 and 8 years old) whine endlessly. I am at my wit's end. What have you done successfully to eliminate whining?
I found that whining was used for 2 purposes - to get attention and to wear me down until they got what they wanted.
It takes consistency and forebearance, but I found it best to manage by refusing to reward whining and wheedling. I used to tell my children that I couldn't understand them when they spoke in that tone. They had to use a pleasant tone of voice for whatever they asked. I tried to be reasonable in my answers, but if they disagreed or weren't satisfied, whining wasn't going to get a different answer. They needed to provide me with good reasons to change my mind. Continuing to whine wouldn't get them a different result.
If the whining was simply from fatigue, hunger, or general unhappiness, I found that it was better to ignore the whining and deal with those underlying causes.
Agree with ollyoxenfree. I say I don't understand what they are saying. And then they keep whining! UGH! And then I say again I don't understand. And they whine. Sometimes this repeats 4, 5 even 6 times, until they can talk nicely. If it keeps going on, I bark out "NO", at that point I don't give a darn what their issue is.
We have just instituted a no swearing rule. Maybe this would also work for whining? Hmm, may do this myself. We made a rule because DS was swearing a lot, and then just saying excuse me directly after. Like it was totally ok to swear as long as you add excuse me to the end? No. I discussed many times that I didn't want him to say excuse me, I didn't want him to swear. This did not help.
So - new rules. Anyway, DS gets 20 minutes computer time per weekday (we have always had this rule). What is new is if he swears, for each swear word he gets 2 minutes knocked off his time. What is fun for him is if mom or dad swear, then he gets 2 minutes added to his time. So yesterday DS got 18 minutes, because he swore once. Today he got 20 minutes, because he swore once, but I also swore once, so he ended up even.
Sometimes when my kids are whining, it's because I've been whining lately and they've picked up on my mood.
Other times what I'm perceiving as "whining" is actually a complaint that one of my children wants to see addressed, and that deserves to be listened to.
If I were to say to my children, "I can't understand you when you speak that way," then I had better be prepared to have them say that same thing back to me, if I "whine" about a mess that needed picking up or whatever.
The best way for me to promote my children speaking to me in a pleasant voice is to speak to my children in a pleasant voice.
Edited to fix typo.
Thank you, moms. My default approach matches AllisonR's. "I don't understand. Try again in another voice. I don't understand." It's just so draining! I was hoping for a magic cure! :P
Mostly, whining is their way of expressing dissatisfaction. Often times, as Luckiestgirl points out, there is a valid complaint in there that I would happily address (so-and-so won't let me have a turn, so-and-so is being mean, etc) but when they come at me whining I have no desire to help. A good opportunity presented itself today as the four kids were all playing a board game. I was reading nearby and looking up to watch them play. I saw the very incident happen that was deemed unfair, and instantly my niece went into whine-mode as she complained to me about it. I was able to communicate instantly that I knew that she was right and that I wanted to help her, but that the way that she was coming to me was using a voice that makes people not want to help. I talked to them about strategy (kind of like in a board game) - know what outcome you want to get from the grown-up and then consider what the best plan is for getting that grown-up's help. I told them that a secret about Auntie is that if you come to me calmly, I will almost always help. She calmed right down (very out of pattern), and we solved the problem.
For the rest of the day, I was able to refer back to that incident when a reminder was needed, and it was great. Praying this lasts all summer!!!