You should try this 10-second trick to stop your children from whining 3 years ago

You should try this 10-second trick to stop your children from whining

We have all been here, I am sure.

You have just come in the door from a hectic day, and your toddler has been attached to your leg, half crying, half whining ever since. You are getting a little stressed; there is dinner to be made, homework to be overseen and washing to be hung.

You try the aul' Peppa Pig on the TV trick, or even emptying the Lego box for him, so he can entertain himself while you at least get the dinner on. But the whining persists, and he has no interest in anything but your leg at the moment.

Sounds familiar?

Well, think of it this way: In just the same way you would put your phone charging to fill the battery, children needs a little "charging" too. Only they charge by hugs and quiet times and being soothed by mum. This is by psychologists referred to as emotional charging, and much as we all need it, young children need it particularly, often especially towards the end of the day when they are feeling a little tired and overwhelmed.

I know I have been here, torn between feeling annoyed with my toddler for not letting me get on with what needs to be done, and then equally feeling guilty because I am feeling annoyed with him.


After talking to a friend of mine who works as a family therapist, I have started doing this whenever my toddler (or even six-year-old) are being particularly whiny or tricky: Sitting down with them for a few minutes, and just cuddle. Sometimes we sit on the sofa, other times we just plonk down on the kitchen floor, it doesn't really matter, the point is that we are taking a little time-out for some hugs and snuggles.

The thing is, crying – in toddlers or young children – isn't "whining" on purpose for attention, but genuinely a request for comfort. Why? Because small children aren't strategic like that, they don't plan to be "annoying," they are just asking for your attention.

And guess what? The trick works. It doesn't take many minutes before their whole mood changes, and everything is right again in their world. I have given them the little "emotional charging" they needed, and, actually, we both feel better for it.

The reason, according to my therapist friend, is that these moments of physical closeness can be enough to centre a child after a day spent in creche or school, or even just being busy playing. Their needs are met, and, most likely, they will after a few moments feel perfectly happy for you to leave and continue cooking dinner or doing whatever you are doing and for them to play on.

It's that good, old mum-magic at work again, I guess. That, and the genuine magical powers of cuddles.