Your Kid, Only Less Whiny

What do you do when your kid throws a whiny fit? Pretend you can't hear her? Have a prolonged conversation about the value of delayed gratification? No, you need a quick, effective comeback. We've tossed out the stock responses (they usually don't work anyway) and asked experts to come up with the best whine-stoppers.

When You Hear: "It's not fair!"

Don't say: "Well, life's not fair."

The whine-stopper: The best way to beat this type of complaining is to empathize with your child's situation. "If he's envious that his sister is going to a friend's house, for example, say, 'I know it's really hard when your sister gets to go to a sleepover and you have to stay home,'" says Toni Schutta, a psychologist and parent coach in St. Paul. "He'll be more likely to calm down if you acknowledge that he's upset, because he'll feel understood." That's the approach taken by Margaret Schwartz, a Falls Church, Virginia, mother of boys ages 4 and 5 -- but she goes a step further. "Rupert, who's older, sometimes gets to do things that Nicky can't," she says. "So when Nicky starts complaining, I'll say, 'Yes, it's not fair, but why don't we do something that you like to do instead?' So, we get out his Play-Doh or watch a movie, and he usually stops whining right away."

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