In our family, we’ve tried several tricks to handle whining kids. Depending on the situation, we’ll pick the best “no whining” trick in our parenting toolbox—or we might end up using all of them.
But in the last couple years, one single approach has worked consistently, again and again. In fact, it works even better today than the first day we used it.
And the best part? Our child loves it.
What’s Our Secret?
We told our daughter we’d be hanging this sign† in our kitchen:
Then we asked for her help: “You know how when you’re feeling big emotions, it’s hard to say how you feel? Even adults have a hard time with that. So instead, we can point at this sign to share how we’re feeling. But it’s just black-and-white, so can you help by coloring it in?”
Now when her voice turns whiny, we point to the poster and say, “Your voice is sounding like you’re upset. Can you show me how you’re feeling right now?”
She’ll stop and think about it and point to how she’s feeling, and most of the time that’s enough to get her to communicate in a clearer way what she wants or needs.
This has been working so well that she even wanted to print a couple more copies and put them up in her room and the living room.
Why This Trick Works Like Magic
We’d all love for our kids to learn how to express their everyday wants and needs without whining in the first place.
But before they can do that, they need to have a clearer understanding of their emotions. This is a “no whining” sign because it’s a visual representation of the emotions your child may be feeling.
It’s easier for brains to remember information that forms a memorable pattern. For example, the images on the poster are a visual pattern.
When you pair written or spoken information with visual information, you end up with better recall.
Learning also involves the strengthening of connections between neurons. “What fires together wires together,” say neuroscientists, which is why repetition supports learning while the absence of repetition and exposure results in its decay…
Given that visual, semantic, sensory, motor, and emotional neural networks all contain their own memory systems, multichannel learning engaging each of these networks increases the likelihood of both storage and recall.
This one trick engages your child’s visual, semantic, and sensory neural networks all at once.
A Printable No Whining Sign for Your Child to Color
Your child can color in the images on this sign, and then you can hang it in your house and point to it as needed.
Just remember to keep it light and fun. If you approach it like a drill sergeant, you risk introducing fear and stress into the situation for your child. And when fear and stress are involved, learning stops.
Here’s one idea for keeping it fun: Print two copies, and sit by your child and color them together. Bye-bye, whining!
Get Your Printable No Whining Sign
- Get the color-in poster.
- Print. Any paper will do the trick, but card stock would be ideal.
- Set your kids up to color the poster. Regular old crayons work fine, or you can pair the activity with a fun new art supply like watercolor pencils or 80’s Glam Sharpies.
Before you go, get my FREE cheat sheet: 75 Positive Phrases Every Child Needs to Hear
Check out 7 Ways to Get Your Kid to Stop Whining for more ideas on handling whining kids.
How do you handle whining kids? Share your tip in a comment below!