Chapter One Top Ten Whines from Children

It’s mine,

If it looks exactly like mine.

If it’s yours and I steal it.

If I think it’s mine.

If it’s broken, it’s yours.

My siblings—and probably yours 

Top Ten Children’s Whines

#1 Going to Bed

#2  Sharing

#3  Taking Turns

#4  Waking up for School

#5  Babysitters

#6  Taking a Bath

#7   Homework

#8   Brushing Teeth

#9   Where to Sit in the Car

#10  He’s Looking at Me


It’s mine,

If it looks exactly like mine.

If it’s yours and I steal it.

If I think it’s mine.

If it’s broken, it’s yours.

My children—and probably yours

#1    Going to Bed

Anyone who thinks the art of conversation is dead ought to tell a child to go to bed.

Robert Gallagher 

Whine A: Do I have to?

Why: This is the number one thing that children of all ages whine about. It is their universal reason to whine, something they all do. Nobody wants the party to end, and children will usually let you know this in their most irritating, annoying, whining voice, hoping to get their way while driving you crazy. From the time they are toddlers, they know that bedtime is the worst time of the day for them. Likewise, they know it is the best time for parents, which makes it even more tempting for them to whine, thus besmirching any quietude said parents may carve out for themselves. Unfortunately, it is simply not in children’s nature to want to sleep. It is only when they become teenagers that they crave sleep, and then only in the mornings. 

Whine B: Can’t I stay up a little longer?

Cure: I have had a lot of luck with the “Because I said so!” cure when accompanied by the “look” that only a loving mother can give when she is exhausted. The best way to stop the whining, though, is to make a game of bedtime with songs, stories and lots of love. A visit from the tickle bug is fun for them and you too, even if they do think they’re “too old for it.” Remember to comfort them with a small night-light and their favorite stuffed animals—and don’t forget the binkie!  

#2    Sharing

There is only one way to raise kids.

Unfortunately, no one knows what it is.

January Jones

Whine A:  Do I have to?

Why: Sharing is one of the hardest lessons that you will ever teach your children. It is not in their nature to want to divide things up with others. By nature, they are all little hoarders who are learning how to be territorial. It is part of their self-preservation instinct not to share. It is especially hard to share their toys, favorite stuffed animals, best pals or parents with each other, especially if the other party is also having a hard time with it, which is always the case by definition. Face it: Children just don’t like other people to have what they have—and this unfortunately seems to be the way with most adults these days as well!   

Whine B: I don’t want to.

Favorite Cure: The “sharing is fun” cure is an effective concept, but if you can’t con them into it, better switch to the “Because I said so!” cure, which is one of my all time favorites. Remember, it is all in the eyes and tone. You must perfect your “look” so they know you mean business, and an effective and believable tone comes only with years of practice. Do praise your child when they divide things up with others. It makes them feel good about themselves, and it is, after all, what all the big kids do. Well, at least some of them do it. 

#3    Taking turns

You can learn many things from children.

How much patience you have, for instance.

Franklin P. Jones

Whine A: It’s my turn now.

Why: Taking turns is a hard lesson for any child to learn, and especially for an only child. Somehow you must convince them that taking turns is fun. If you fail, they will have no friends or playmates besides their parents and grandparents. As they grow older, they will master the art of taking turns quickly with their little friends but not so quickly with their siblings. Waiting is difficult for anyone under five years of age—or even under 50. The hardest part of taking turns is being second, or third, or…. It’s just not as much fun as going first. 

Whine B: It’s never my turn

Cure: I had a lot of luck with the “time out or go to bed instead” cure when my children refused to share. Needless to say, they excelled at sharing with friends and sometimes even on rare occasions with their siblings. It helps to remind the younger ones that it is what the big kids do. Teaching them how to wait their turn with grace and patience early in life will prepare them for all the waiting in lines they will encounter as they grow up and grow old in such hallowed halls of patience-testing as the DMV, the supermarket and the post office.  

 #4   Waking Up for School

What is a home without children?


Henny Youngman

Whine A:  Go away! Let me sleep.

Why: Most children hate to get up once they start school. Prior to beginning school, they may have loved waking up before dawn and making sure everyone else was up, too, but things have changed. Face it, no matter what your age, waking up can be a drag, and it is especially difficult on those cold, rainy dark days of winter. For children, however, I have found that inclement weather prevents rising only on school days. On weekends, they are up early even if it’s raining or snowing outside, searching for sugar-coated cereal and watching cartoons by dawn’s early light.

Whine B:  I can’t wake up! I’m too tired.

Cure: My favorite morning wake-up cure was to sing the “Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey” song to my children, which would make them get up just to make me stop singing. This song is an extremely effective cure for wake-up whining, especially if you have an irritating voice like most mothers do, at least to their children. Another great cure is to buy them their own alarm clock once they start learning how to tell time. Make them responsible for setting it and turning it off in the morning—just like Mommy and Daddy do. Hint: Place said alarm clock far away from your child’s bed so as to stall his or her learning curve with the snooze button. 

  #5    Babysitters

A child is a curly dimpled lunatic.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Whine A: I don’t like her.

Why: This is your child’s opportunity to use a surefire, no-miss weapon on you: the guilt factor. It may not be a fair tactic but it is effective. It is especially successful with first-time parents who are just learning the ropes when it comes to the whims and wiles of their children. All children intuitively know that it is very hard for a parent to walk out the door when those sweet little eyes are filled with tears. 

Whine B: Don’t leave me! I’ll miss you.

Cure: I am not a big fan of the “bribery” cure since I know it can come back and bite you when you least expect it, but it’s the easiest way to get out the door sometimes. I prefer to call it by the far less incriminating title of the “promise them a surprise” cure. In fact, bribery, whether blatant or not, will get you through most whining encounters with your offspring. Sure, there are other cures that can be used to battle back against their guilt attacks, but like it or not, bribery works best. Another way to deal with the babysitter whine that may not always be convenient is to use sitters that your children adore. Grandparents would fit into this category. Despite how much they love you, it is always a treat for all of them to have you out of the way, 

#6    Taking a Bath

Boy (n): a noise with dirt on it.

Girl (n): sugar and spice and everything nice, especially when taking a bubble bath.

Not Your Average Dictionary

Whine A: Do I have to?

Why: Little boys and most grown men hate taking baths. There is something in their DNA that keeps them from wanting to soak in water unless it is a swimming pool, the ocean or a mud puddle. They love playing in dirt and adore smelling like little pigs. This whine made it to the top ten because for every little girl who adores taking a bubble bath, there are ten little boys who would rather drink molten lava than spend any considerable amount of time in the tub.  

Whine B: I did already…yesterday.

Cure: First and foremost, you must establish that this is not a topic for debate. This is a hard concept to convey to any boy or tomboy. It is best to relax and wait until you can teach them the “take a shower” cure. Once they are old enough to shower by themselves you will never be able to get them out. Some men even shave, plan their schedules or use their cell phones in the shower. It can become a safe, soggy haven from their mothers, wives, kids and anyone else they want to avoid.

   #7    Homework

Life is simple. It’s just not easy.

Susan Vopicka 

Whine A: Do I have to?

Why: For some reason, most little girls love to do homework and most boys hate it passionately; however, this dynamic changes for girls when they get older and more interested in boys than their homework. I think the reason that some little boys hate homework is because all they want to do is to play, all day and all night. It is a part of their DNA that continues to unfold throughout their lives. For that matter, can you think of any man, woman or child who would rather work than play? 

Whine B: I’ll do it later.

Cure: The homework battle is one of the toughest ones you will ever fight with your kids. I have fought this good fight through two generations, and have found only one surefire remedy: the “threat with consequences” cure. For example, you might say, “Unless you do your homework right now, you will have to (fill in something that they really hate doing).” This can be an ugly and confrontational technique, but it usually makes them see the error of their ways, and makes it easier for them to do what they don’t really want to do. The difficult part will be when your children try to explain it to their shrinks twenty years from now. 

#8    Brushing Teeth

A characteristic of a normal child is they don’t act normal very often, especially about their teeth.

January Jones.

Whine A: Do I have to?

Why: Brushing teeth takes time away from the fun things that kids would rather be doing; plus they know that brushing their teeth at night is a definite move in the direction of going to bed. It is a ritual they all try to avoid, as with all things leading up to bedtime. As for brushing their teeth after they eat, don’t be ridiculous. None of them will do this unless you make them do it by brute force. This is not a cure that I advocate due to child abuse laws.    

Whine B: I already did.

Cure: I always had good luck with telling my children that if they didn’t brush their teeth, they would have to do the “Mr. Cavity” cure. That meant a visit to the dentist. Now, this was something they could really whine about. Actually, do you know anyone either child or adult who doesn’t at least want to whine about going to the dentist? It’s simply a fact of life that going to the dentist is no fun—even for dentists, I’ve been told, though they do seem to be content—if not in fact enjoying themselves—when they are the ones holding the drills.. 

# 9    Where to sit in the car

A child can create situations 

that no mother can fix.

January Jones

Whine A: I call front seat.

Why: Every child wants to sit up front in the carpool. At first I thought it was to be near me, but then I realized that it was all about music control. The child up front has immediate access to the car radio, which bestows upon that child a certain power over everyone in the car, including the driver. This is a great opportunity for children to traumatize others, and to constantly war about their ever-changing pecking order. Unfortunately, age and size discrimination are carpool realities. The oldest and biggest were usually my front seat companions. You must remember that sitting next to the chief in tribal life is a big deal!      

Whine B: He took my place.

Cure: When the kids started driving me crazy with their bickering in the car, I would use the “ultimate ultimatum” cure on them. This involved them being forced to listen to my music on the radio—and in extreme cases, even my singing—until they all sat still and shut up. Due to their extreme and ingrained dislike for anything I liked, mostly because it simply wasn’t cool, this was one of my cleverest and quickest cures. I adore sharing it with parents who I see carpooling children on the highways and by-ways of life.

# 10    He’s looking at me. 

A child can ask questions

 that a wise mother cannot answer.

January Jones

Whine A: Tell him to stop it.


Why: An older child tormenting a younger one always causes this whine. It is a ritual that has been practiced by siblings since Cain and Abel squared off against one another in the Garden of Eden. This scenario usually starts with the youngest child whining that they are being “looked at.” Next, the older child will deny that they are looking at anyone, least of all the despised younger child… and so the cycle begins.

Next Whine: He’s still doing it.

Cure: When this mysterious and chronic situation arose during my kids’ early childhoods, I usually tried to explain to them that there was no law against looking at someone. It never worked but it made sense to me, and I spent countless hours vainly trying to convince them of the same. I tried to look wise when using this technique, but my children always found a weak point in my logic, eventually driving me crazy. As a last resort, I would make them all do the “put on your sunglasses” cure, whether inside or out, sunny or not. That way no one could look at anyone or see anyone looking at them, and it certainly made me laugh seeing them sitting around our TV room silently watching cartoons through their shades, careful to not even glance at one another.   

Best Overall Remedy for Whining Children


The Norwegian Ris-pa-rumpin Cure 

This valuable method for curbing whining in children was brought to this country by my husband’s Norwegian parents. We called them BaBa and MorMor. They were wise and wonderful, and dearly loved by their entire family, especially their grandchildren. When any of them began whining about anything, asking the child a simple question initiated the cure: “Do you want a Ris-pa-rumpin?” It is not so much the question as it is the manner in which it is asked that makes it such an effective method. 

You may ask, “What is a Ris-pa-rumpin?” As far as I can explain, it is our Norwegian family’s word for a little love pat that is applied gently and lovingly to a child’s bottom. What makes this cure so amazingly effective is that every parent or grandparent can style their own delivery for maximum effect. My husband would take the child quite firmly by the arm and stare straight into their eyes when asking them if they really wanted a Ris-pa-rumpin. 

Truthfully, I have never heard a child respond with a “yes” to this question. And in case you may want to report us to the child protective services, the actual Ris-pa-rumpin cure has never had to be used in our family that I can remember! As for our children, don’t believe a thing they say as their memories are not to be trusted after so many years.       

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