My 5-year-old whines and cries about anything and everything. I've tried everything from time out, putting her in her room by herself. She is so rebellious and she cries if I tell her no. She does it about nothing and she won't give up her bottle. I've tried everything with that too. Please any advice will help.

1 Answer 1


I had the best results weaning my kids off of whining when I began to understand when the whining happened, and why.

Five year olds are tricky beings because they are at a phase where they are really changing from very dependent to more independent. Their new independence can make it difficult to see where they still need support. Whining and crying for both of my sons was a good indication that they were overtired. Does she do it more often at particular times of day? Then it is probably related to needing more sleep.

That is not to suggest that the minute your child starts whining, you immediately say, "okay time for a nap". Instead think of this as a clue that your child needs more sleep in general, and with more sleep you will probably see less whining and crying.

Also, I really tried to understand what was behind the request before responding to it. Something that really worked well for me was that if the request was legitimate (by that I mean if my child was whiny because they were hungry, as opposed to because I wouldn't let them buy a particular toy), then I would agree to resolve the problem, and then share with them that it was difficult for me to hear what they needed when they used a whiny tone. We would often role play other ways to ask that would yield quicker results.

If the whining is for things that are not necessary, well then the ball is likely in your court. In cases where things are not necessary, then your child is experimenting with the boundaries of their ability to manipulate their environment. If whining works once, then they will continue to use it in case it might work again. So you can't give in to whining for non-essentials. But punishment doesn't really work either. The best results that I had with these situations was to ignore it whenever possible, and if I simply couldn't ignore it anymore, then I would tell them (without anger) that what they were doing was making my ears hurt, and that I was going to another room to make my ears feel better until they were able to stop making those painful noises.

This did sometimes lead to mega-tantrums--the only response I had to those was to make sure they were safe. Once the tantrum ended--either because they calmed down, or fell asleep, or something else piqued their interest- like it was time for a favorite TV show--I would never get angry or punish them for the tantrum (or the whining, when it was over). I often brainstormed with them about other ways they could get what they wanted. And any fallout from a tantrum was handled as if it was not caused by a tantrum. So, if they threw stuff around the room, I would treat it as if we had made a mess while playing a game, and we would work together to clean it up.

The key to all of this is to try and disengage your emotional response, so that the whining doesn't have any noticeable impact on you, beyond just you teaching them that it is okay to remove oneself from situations that are uncomfortable. To a five year old trying to figure out what kind of power she has within her world, having the ability to make a parent angry is a pretty exciting discovery. If these unwanted behaviors have zero impact on you, they are much more likely to be discarded for other, more effective behaviors.

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    Great answer! The only change I would apply is that I would not leave the room as a result of their hurting my ears. I would replace the child if possible. I think that giving the child the power to make the group leave might be the wrong signal of giving it power of me. Asocial behavior like "blackmailing" crying should lead to being expelled from the society instead. And I would add that I always would try to give my child still the feeling of being loved (e. g. soft talk and giving hugs which, btw, often leads to anger in the child in such situations, but that I ignore).
    – Alfe
    May 22, 2017 at 8:33
  • @Alfie -- If the child in whining in a group situation, I'd remove the child. At home I'd do what Magerber (+1) did -- leave. I have found that when a child is yelling or whining that if I whisper, they start to get more quiet. I also learned to ignore whining when it was possible. Sometimes I'd re-direct. (If my child wanted a snack item that I would not buy in the store, I'd wheel us to the front, remove her from the cart and sit in the car until she calmed down. Or I'd take her home.) We were lucky that this phase only lasted 6-9 months. Consistency is the key to getting through quickly.
    – WRX
    May 22, 2017 at 12:16

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