It’s Official–Whining is the Worst Sound in the World

But you already knew that, and won’t be surprised to learn that a recent study found that whining is even worse than a crying baby or a table saw.  In the study, researchers asked subjects to do simple math problems while listening to different types of background noise.  The subjects accomplished the least amount of work, and made the most mistakes, while listening to whining.

It truly is the worst sound in the world.

I know many of your thoughts immediately flashed to children who were wailing because their sister looked at them funny.  But adults whine too.

When we fire off a complaint in the heat of the moment, it doesn’t usually seem like a big deal.  But relationships aren’t made of “big deal” moments.  A relationship–any relationship–is made of lots of tiny moments.   We can bite our tongue for the Big Moments, when we know we’re on the stage.  But there aren’t that many Big Moments in a relationship.  There are lots of little moments.

We have to watch our words for the little moments as well.  Don’t lose control of your tongue and let the “worst sound in the world” into your relationships.

Do you have any tips to curtail whining among the big or small people in your life?  Share them in comments!

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  1. Ursa says:

    ‘Would you like a little cheese with that whine?’

    Said to kids when at end of tether (better than shouting, I guess) and to myself when I’m whining like a 5 year old child.

  2. Linda says:

    Someone paid big money to do a study on whining? They could have asked any mother and they would have told them that whining was the worst sound in the world!!

    When the girls were little I would tell them that they needed to ask not whine or the answer would always be “no”. It did help.

    • Anne says:

      Yes! I heard my friend say exactly that to her daughter several years ago and I immediately put it into my own parenting arsenal!

  3. Amber @ says:

    My son is only 2.5 years old but we attempt to stop all whining once it starts. In a very calm voice, we say “I am sorry, but I can’t understand you when you whine”. Hopefully that will teach him to manage how he asks for things.
    There are many times I have wanted to say that to adults too 😉

  4. Like Amber said, when our girls whine, we tell them we can’t understand them and refuse to acknowledge them until they stop whining. That doesn’t always help {as was the case this am}, so I sent my 3.5 yo off to her room. The rule is, once the whining has stopped, she can come back out.

  5. sarah beals says:

    I concur with the ladies methods above. When our kids were little and they tried whining to get their way, the answer was always no. Neither whining nor yelling were acceptable “forms” or communication in our house. Whining meant you were overtired, whether you were or not, and perhaps you needed a nap?? 🙂 Well, that was a fate worse than death, so it usually cured it.

    • Anne says:

      Sarah and Sarah–that is my method too. It doesn’t always work, but I can usually manage a calm response of “I can’t understand you when you whine” or “If you’re whining, it doesn’t matter what you ask for, the answer’s no.”

      And seriously, who can understand a full-force whine?

      • Ursa says:

        I can’t understand at least one of the kids I look after when they’re in full-on whine mode.

        Politely blank incredulity is my favourite defence. And, on one occasion (because I really wasn’t sure): ‘I’m sorry, sweetheart, was that English?’

        “When the girls were little I would tell them that they needed to ask not whine or the answer would always be “no”. It did help.”

        I am totally borrowing that.

        Dealing with grown up whiners is more problematic. I mean, it’s probably not good manners to do any of the above to adults. Will that stop me? *shifty look* Probably?

        I tend to go with ‘Mmm…’ and change the subject. Or ‘oh dear’ if it’s actually bad.

  6. Allane says:

    I am an ESL teacher in Taiwan, and I have a class of 18 seven year olds. Not a “whine-free” day goes by! I’m sure you can imagine with so many little kids packed into a classroom, it’s not hard to find something to nit-pick about. “He’s on my side of the table” “She poked me with her pencil” “Teeeaaaaccchhheerrr”

    In fact, it’s quite comical now as I’m writing about it, but I’m sure tomorrow in class I will be nearing my wit’s end, yet again! I always make sure to tell the students that I don’t tolerate whining, but I’m sure that with their limited English they have no idea what I’m talking about. So I have taken to using mild punishments (minus 2 points!) whenever someone whines at me, to try and demonstrate how unacceptable it is. Unfortunately, many of them just end up confused as to why I’m erasing their stars, and at the end of the day I still find myself with a headache!

    • Anne says:

      I’m laughing, because did you read how the study found that whining was the worst sound even if the whining was in a foreign language? It didn’t matter whether or not the listener could understand the words.

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