Whining and Talking Back: What to Do

Talking is not just about words and sentences. Tone of voice and language are also very important for kids to learn... and they learn it from you! Try these tips if your kids are whining or talking back too much.

Wipe Out Whining

  • Stay calm. When children know whining will upset you, they might keep doing it for the attention.
  • Why is your child whining? Look first for an obvious physical cause like hunger, thirst, being tired, uncomfortable clothing or shoes, position, or even illness.
  • Show your child the difference between a whiny voice and a normal voice. Ask your child to tell you which voice is nicer to hear.
  • If it goes on, ignore whining by limiting eye contact and talking.
  • Make sure children have contact with children their own age. It can be tiring for a child to keep up with older kids, and he/she could be using the whiny voice with them too.

How to Manage Kids Talking Back

  • As soon as back talk happens, tell your child, "We don’t talk that way. Please speak nicely."
  • Give choices: "Either you finish your homework, or you don't get to go play basketball this afternoon." 
  • Praise good behavior: "Thank you for helping me with the groceries!"
  • Do not tolerate swear words. If your child uses words that are inappropriate, stop the conversation immediately and tell them clearly that you don't like that language.
  • Provide appropriate consequences, like giving a time out. The length of time out needs to correspond to the age of the child (six minutes for a 6-year-old, seven minutes for a 7-year-old). Other consequences for talking back could be: no TV for a week, no going to a friend's house after school, or having to pay a penny to a jar that you keep.

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