Question of the Day: How do I get my child to stop complaining and whining?


Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

Question of the Day is where Breezy Mama‘s Go-To parenting whiz, Dr. Fran Walfish, who is an Expert in Parents Magazine’s “Ask Our Experts” column, is here to answer your daily parenting questions. Make sure to send us what’s on your mind to and Dr. Walfish will tackle it in a future Breezy post.

Now on to today’s question. . .

Everything that has been coming out of my 8-year-old daughter’s mouth has either been a whine or a complaint. She’s doing a lot of eye-rolling too. It makes me not want to be around her. Why has she started acting like this, and what can I do?

It seems that 8 years-old is the age where many kids pick up bad behaviors from other kids at school. Eye-rolling, complaining, and general opposition used to be more typical with the onset of adolescence, though it appears earlier today. Don’t tell your daughter that  you don’t want to be around her. That’s between you and me! What you need to do is sit down with her when you and your daughter are both in a good mood. Tell her that eye-rolling is a put-down to the other person and you are going to ask her to correct it right then and there. She will have to ‘correct’ it (not by rote apologizing which will mean nothing to her) by finding acceptable words to say in a respectful tone of voice. For instance, she can, “Mom, I don’t like your rules!” or “I wish I didn’t have to do that!”. If she refuses to correct the eye-rolling she does not get to proceed to the next activity until she fixes her mistake. It is crucial that you handle this without anger. Stay with her until she masters what you believe is a genuine correction. Then, it’s over. No punishment, no consequences, no lectures. You are behaviorally interrupted her developing bad habit. She will soon self-correct before rolling her eyes the next time.

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Frances Walfish, Psy.D. is the foremost Beverly Hills child and family psychotherapist. Her caring approach, exuberant style, humor, and astute insights have earned her a sterling reputation among colleagues and national media alike. A frequent guest on top-­tier TV programs, including NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams and KABC-­TV in Los Angeles, The Doctors, CBS and often appearing in major publications such as Parents Magazine, Family Circle and Woman’s Day, Dr. Fran continues to lead the field with her expert insights and innovative strategies for parents, children and couples.

Her current book, The Self-­Aware Parent: Resolving Conflict and Building a Better Bond with Your Child from Palgrave Macmillan’s/St. Martin’s Press, December 7, 2010, is receiving acclaimed reviews. William Morris Endeavor and Lake Paradise Entertainment are presently collaborating with Dr. Fran to produce a television series offering therapeutic guidance and help to families in America. More information on Dr. Fran can be found online at

To order Dr. Walfish’s book ($11.56 on Amazon), click here.

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