3 Steps to Stop Kids from Fighting & Whining

Posted by in No-Cry Discipline

When your kids are fighting, or your little one is whining it can be so easy to lose your temper and just shout, “Stop!” but that rarely (if ever) helps. Try this technique instead.

The 3 Steps

1 – Get down to their level and eye-to-eye.

2 – Acknowledge feelings & define the problem.

3 – Give a choice of two ways to solve the problem.

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Standing above your child and trying to calm them usually fails as they are focused on their extreme emotions and truly don’t even hear you. The first step is to get eye-to-eye with your child so that you have their complete attention.

There are always big emotions involved in fighting and whining. It helps to acknowledge your children’s feelings first, as they can bring them to a place where they feel heard and can move on to a solution.

Instead of focusing on your feelings of annoyance, the misbehavior, or the thing that you don’t want your children to do, explain exactly what they should do or say instead.

Define the problem in simple terms that your children can understand. Then give them the tools to calm down or the words to use to express their emotions. Providing a choice of two specific things can get them moving in the direction of a good solution.

Help your children by demonstrating or modeling exactly what you want to see or hear. Here are two examples:


Your two children are fighting over a toy. They are grabbing it and pushing each other.

You take the toy in hand as you crouch down to their level, “You both want this toy right now, but there is only one toy. Pushing and grabbing isn’t nice. It’s better to use your words and to make a plan. Would you like me to set the timer so you can each have a turn to play with it, or do you want me to put it away for now?”


You and your child are in the grocery store, shopping before dinner. He wants a cookie, you say no, and a stream of complaining and whining ensues.

Instead of standing above your child and raising your voice for all to hear, crouch down to your child’s level, eye-to-eye. Validate the feelings, first, “I know you want a cookie and it’s hard when I say no.” Explain in one short sentence why you said no, to make this a lesson for more than one time. ”To grow up healthy you need to eat nutritious food first.” Suggest two choices and model exactly how it should be said. Can you ask nicely? Say, “Mommy, can we buy a cookie and eat it later?” Or you can say, “Mommy can I have a banana instead?”

These tips are from The No-Cry Discipline Solution.

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