When You Hear: "But whhhy?"
Don't say: "Because I said so!"
The whine-stopper: Turn the question around. "When your child says, 'But why?' ask, 'Why do you think I'm saying no?'" says Fran Walfish, PsyD, a family and child psychotherapist in Beverly Hills, California. "It works because your child has to stop whining long enough to think of an answer." If your child can't come up with anything, start giving hints. Asking her to guess is more effective than constantly repeating your reasons, which may be lost on a child anyway. "Parents work too hard trying to explain themselves," says Dr. Walfish. The trick is to get your child to think from your point of view, so she's more likely to understand your rules -- and stick to them.
Megan Hill, a mother in Excelsior, Minnesota, tries to make her kids laugh so they'll stop asking why. Whenever their whining becomes so grating that she can't take it anymore, Hill asks them, "I can't understand you when you talk like that. Are you speaking Russian again?" It works too. "My kids usually start laughing and then change their tone," she says.