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How to Handle Whining

Consistently whining to get your needs met is a less enjoyable mans of communication. Here are 3 steps to handle whining.

1. How to REACT

Keep reactions small, using a calm and neutral voice without a lot of emotion. Try to avoid giving the child attention when they whine, including negative attention, like scolding, or positive attention, like comforting. We don’t want them to learn that they get what they want by whining.


Consider why the child is whining and what other behavior might satisfy the same want or need. This is called a replacement behavior! For example, if the child is whining because they want a toy:

*** Try saying “you want the toy” and modeling gestures, like pointing, and words, like “more” or “me” or “toy”.

*** Make expectations clear by saying “you have to point to the one you want” and waiting for the child to point before giving them the toy.

3. How to REWARD

Give positive attention and praise when the child uses words or gestures to express his wants and needs instead of whining. You can say things like “thank you for showing me!” or “great job using your words!”

REMEMBER: What you reinforce will continue!!!

April Anderson, MA, CCC-SLP, CLC

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