A couple of weeks ago the dreaded preschooler whining began; Laurel was a fairly constant source of intense emotions and whining and we quickly found ourselves exhausted and wondering where our sweet girl had gone.
I was relieved to find a couple of useful articles about children and whining from ParentCenter and ParentingKidsRight. We decided to work on two points consistently, however tiring and repetitive it got. First, whenever Laurel whined, we pointed out how whining sounded different from regular speech. Second, we didn’t give in to whining; any time she asked for something by whining we told her kindly and firmly that we wouldn't respond to a whining voice but that if she would like to try asking again in a polite sentence we’d be happy to get her what she needed.
In just a couple of weeks the results have been amazing. After a few repetitive and tedious days of chanting our whining mantras, we actually started to see Laurel open her mouth to ask for something (presumably by whining) then stop, think, and ask in a polite sentence. Whining still occurs periodically but by far no longer is the norm.
The time it takes for a child to adhere to new rules obviously will vary, but in this and other parenting situations we have found the greatest success by keeping our behavior consistent, even when the repetition is tiresome.