Dear Tzipporah,

My daughter's whining drives me crazy. When she gets going, it just makes my skin crawl. And when she doesn't get what she wants, she cries. My other children can just accept a "No," but for some reason, she can't. How can I teach her that "No means no"?

Can't Stand the Whining

Dear Can't Stand the Whining,

You are not alone on this one. Many mothers have this same complaint. Whining is truly an annoying behavior. And although it is not exclusive to girls, it does seem that girls are more prone to whining for what they want than boys are.

If you truly want to work on whining, you will have to be strong, and make sure that you don't give in to her when she whines. Otherwise, if she sees that whining is effective at wearing you down and getting her way, she will have no motivation to stop.

Whining is a form of communication. Explain to her that you don't like the whiny voice. Model for her a more appropriate form of making her requests. Talk to her about how it is hard to accept "No" when she really, really wants something, but that that is part of what being a big girl is all about.

You will need to expect that when she is hungry, or tired, or otherwise worn out, she will revert back to whining. However, every time she is able to make a request appropriately, or accept a "No" graciously, let her know that you noticed her progress by praising her for it.

Whining is an irritating and childish behavior, but it is not a disobedient one. All children whine to some extent, although some are naturally whinier than others. Also some children's whining is more annoying than others due to their voice, a fact over which they have no control. To a certain extent, you will need to just tolerate her whining until she outgrows it. When you have said "No" and she continues to whine, just tune her out, and ignore her whining completely. You can tell her the conversation is over now, and walk away. If she continues to whine, simply don't respond.

Our primary focus in educating our children is to teach them to behave with the desirable behaviors and to refrain from the undesirable behaviors that they wouldn't normally learn in the course of growing up. Focusing our attention on the fundamental behaviors that our children require our assistance with will help us to tolerate those that we just need to put up with until they outgrow them.