Kids Whining Their Way to Unhappiness and Tantrums

By Dr Randy Cale

Does it seem like your kids do more whining than ever?

In my private practice as a licensed  psychologist, I get more and more questions from parents about their kids who seem to be incessantly whining and complaining.  Many parents see this lead to toddler tantrums and meltdowns.  While this may or may not be your child’s profile, it’s important to be aware of the dangers inherent in whining as a favorite past time for your son or daughter.

The dangers of whining and toddler tantrums.

  1. Whining is not attractive to anyone.
  2. As your kids get older and older, they’ll find themselves more and more connected with peers who tend to be whiners as well.  Happy, joyful and actively engaged peers will find such incessant whining and complaining unpleasant and will move on.

  3. Whining often leads to toddler tantrums, which destroy happiness.
  4. Toddlers can begin to fall into a pattern that worsens over time.  As these children get older, their whining and toddler tantrums become more extreme and violent.

    With every tantrum or meltdown, your child’s happiness is depleted.  The emotion is more extreme, more intense and out of proportion with what makes sense.  Whining does not always lead to these extreme tantrums, but often you find the two showing up together.

  5. Behind the whining and the toddler tantrums is a distortion of reality.
  6. While I certainly don’t know your family personally, it’s safe to say that your children live a life that is relatively blessed.  If you’re reading this article, it’s likely they had parents and grandparents who love them, a home in a relatively safe country, and opportunities galore as they look toward their future.  Their room is likely filled with toys, they’re able to get a good education, and you’re there to support them every step along the way.  It is a good life!

    So when your kids are whining and complaining, or throwing a temper tantrum, about a momentary situation where they don’t get what they want, this is a distortion of reality.  In other words, they’re only focused on one tiny part of their life experience and failing to appreciate all the wonder and value of their bigger life experience.  If this “perspective” is supported and reinforced by you over time, it will become their habitual way of seeing the world.  They will always tend to see what they “don’t have” or what they “don’t get” rather than appreciating what they do have!

  7. You just can’t be happy as a whiner and complainer.
  8. When looking at the world through the lens of whining, it becomes very difficult to appreciate and enjoy all of the wonderful things you have.  Your kids may have a tendency to search out for the things that aren’t working perfectly, and to focus on those items to the exclusion of everything else in their life.  This is a formula for unhappiness, and you must avoid supporting this perspective.  Why would you not throw a temper tantrum if you see the world through the eyes of the whiner?  In that world, there is a lot to throw a tantrum about!!!  We have got to change this for your child.

  9. The healthy world will not invest in their whining and tantrums….so why should you?
  10. This is the critical threshold distinction that you need to make.  In the grown up world, individuals who are healthy and happy will not invest themselves repeatedly and consistently in the whining and complaining of others.  You need to learn from this perspective, and bring this into your home.

    If you remind your kids not to whine, or if you negotiate with their toddler tantrums, or you try to rescue them from their unhappiness, you’ll find that they just keep whining and throwing tantrums….on and on.

    Instead, take the opposite approach.  Stop investing in their whining and toddler tantrums.  Walk away from it.  Walk away from it.  Walk away from it.

    Certainly, when you first begin to do this, you’ll just get more whining and tantrums.  You may see a big drama unfold in front of you.  You’ve got to be okay with this, and just ride the wave.  By the time you hit twenty eight to thirty days from now, most of the whining and complaining will be in somebody else’s home and not yours.

    It doesn’t mean that the ride will be an easy one; it just means that the path through this is really clear.  If you keep investing your energy in their whining and complaining, they’ll think the world cares about it.  The world, at least the healthy parts of the world, will not care about it.  So instead, walk away from that whining and toddler tantrums.  Once you’ve learned to walk away repeatedly and consistently, you’ll find that your kids can learn to walk away from it as well.

For more on how to cure that whining child of negativity, or to stop those toddler tantrums, you can visit my website at   My name is Randy L. Cale, Ph.D., and I am a Licensed Psychologist and the author of this material, as well as the developer of The Tantrum Fixer, a step-by-step parenting solution that stops whining and toddler tantrums in less than a week.

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