How to Tame Constant Complaining and Whining


Our 5-year-old is incredibly contrary; he argues or complains about everything and it's gotten out of control. I've had success taming his tantrums by being more firm with telling him to go in his room until he's under control. What are your suggestions for getting a handle on his whining and complaining?


Thanks for reaching out to ParentGuru. In terms of child development, age 5 is a good stage. 5-year-olds typically enjoy participating in conversations, asking questions, and learning new information. Still young, they say cute things that bring a smile to their parent's face.

5-year-olds are capable of adhering to rules and being a team player but are still very much capable of testing limits, especially with their parents. They may have occasional meltdowns because they are still learning. Still, they must be held accountable for their behavior. You share that being firmer with your son when he has tantrums is paying off which is exactly as it should be. The fact that his tantrums have reduced indicates that he understands that YOU are the authoritative leader of the family.

Suggestions going forward:
- Read/re-read John's book, The Well-Behaved Child. It is EXCELLENT and will help you understand childhood behavior and strategies to address misbehavior. This is my #1 suggestion.

- 5-year-olds may complain and talk back as a way of exercising their independence. The less attention you give to his whining and complaining, the better.

- In terms of your son's argumentative-ness, an individual cannot argue with him/herself. Once you respond, you open the door for further complaining and dialog. Do not engage in arguing with a child! Ignore his attention-seeking childhood antics whenever possible.

-The old adage, "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" has much merit. It is the job of parents to set the household tone. Consciously engage in family activities (games, outdoor activities - picnics, going to a park, engaging in 'family chores' - yard work, washing the car, etc.), that create a positive atmosphere for all. Parent modeling is powerful.

Good luck. Stay the course!

Sharon Lamberth
Certified Leadership Parent Coach

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