“Piagnucolare” : something different from just crying. Something that all parents of children between the ages of two and four (some) have experienced. A lot of experience. Because the whining of children is something unique, on an auditory level.
It is not the classic cry that indicates a physical need of the child, a primary need, an immediate need, as can be the crying of hunger or the crying to be changed, or, again, that of the colicolas. Whining means asking for the parents’ attention for something deeper . And if this whimper is, according to all parents, annoying, there is a reason. And to explain it is science.
Because children whine, according to science: if whining is so annoying it is because it hides something deeper
When a child whines its parents’ attention is captured immediately , as are the cases in which a child cries desperately. The reaction? Most of the time, of course, it is annoyance, frustration, anger because we don’t immediately understand what the need is.
Usually, whining characterizes children between two and four years and is one of the most effective sounds in this world . Just like the actual crying. Indeed, more: a research published on Reuters indeed highlights how whining is one of the sounds that most distract the human being and that annoy like nails on the blackboard or a car that suddenly brakes.
This is why the immediate and most frequent reaction is to get annoyed by asking the children to ” stop crying “. However, just like normal crying, we should instead react with empathy and listening . This is because behind the whining there are various reasons, deeper than we think .
First of all, it could be a simple but important request for help or attention , dictated by stress or triggering factors that cause the child to regress to a state in which he would like to be looked after just as if he were a small child. And in fact, if we think about it, this cry vaguely recalls the crying of newborns, as if our children wanted to imitate him, imitating at the same time the little voices of little children who ask for attention.
As we know, this is an effective method to ensure that parents notice them, because a child’s crying triggers reactions at a physiological level that cause us to immediately work to try to alleviate the need for the newborn and child. In this way, children know (unconsciously) that we will give up everything we are doing to help them. And the first thing to do would be to ask what is really wrong, at a deep level and not a superficial one.
In the same way the deep need could be to need positivity or to reconnect with mom and dad , drawing their attention to have the focus of one (or both), as shown by a research by psychologists Richard B. Slatcher and Christopher J. Trentacosta (which also explains how whining is more common in children with conflicting family backgrounds ). And in fact the moment you focus on them, giving up everything, the situation usually improves. Better then try to listen to this whining, rather than dampen it with a “stop crying”, playing for a moment together or taking advantage of it for a cuddle.
Other motivations behind whining can be the difficulty in expressing one’s emotions (and in this case what we can do is talk and try to bring out the feelings of children, talking about all the emotions) or being too sensitive, too much exuberant (reacting to every situation in a strong and heartfelt way) or, again, because they are aware that whining will get something they want in return (and in this case we have to be careful, since it will be difficult, then, to go back when it becomes a habit) .
In any case, dialogue and listening are a must and fundamental both for the serenity of the family and for the harmonious growth of the child. We always remember that every request for attention is always something more: let’s take advantage of it, therefore, to put everything on the plate, understand, exchange feelings with the children, educating them and always giving our support whenever they need it most.