Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk: A Lesson in Whining & Complaining

“Buddy, we have more milk.”


This traumatic moment unfolded one morning this week.

It is one of MANY similar conversations, and if your home is blessed with a three year old, the EXCESSIVE WHINING is also DRIVING. YOU. CRAZY.

The ungrateful tone. The high-pitched sound of the voice. The way they carry out the last word of the sentence. Everything about the whining makes me seriously want to scream out loud myself.

Anything and everything can be whined about:

  • “But I didn’t WANT to stub my toooe!”
  • “I wanted to read the Star Wars book toniiiight!”
  • “I wanted a RED VITAMIN, not an ORANGE ONNNE!”
  • “Mom, my teachers told me to color, and I don’t like to colorrrrr!”

I know what your first reaction is; you’re thinking: “You just aren’t disciplining enough! You are allowing your child to whine”….

But ooooooh no, let me assure you, we are pulling out all the discipline tools. We don’t accept whining or overlook whining, but somehow, the three-nager continues to relentlessly persist. And all my fellow mommies with the same ages agree that they are fighting the whiny-pants battle, too. 

The same day as the abominable spilled-milk episode, Greyson took a highlighter to my new planner. (If you appreciate a fresh, crisp new planner like I do, you are gasping with me.) My reaction sounded a bit like this:

Greyson! No sirrr! You aren’t supposed to mark on my plannerrrr!!!”

He was devastated that I didn’t approve of his “artwork,” and after his nap he asked me: “Are you still mad, Mom?” It literally broke my heart.

And so I started to notice MY reaction when things go less than my way:

  • I rolled my eyes when the person in front of me took too long placing their coffee order.
  • I let out a loud “UGGGHHH!!!” when I realized that Wal-Mart delivered the wrong size diapers.
  • I was icy with my husband when he said he was going to work late and wouldn’t be there for bedtime.
  • I was aggravated that the repairman showed up right at naptime.
  • I literally screamed in frustration when I dropped a jar of pickles and it shattered everywhere.
  • I was super impatient as we sat in the pharmacy drive-thru line.

The examples go on and on, and all of a sudden, I found that I am also a habitual complainer. I’m complaining (the grown-up word for whining) about everything from the weather to the fact that my Amazon order is going to be delayed. I may not audibly vocalize all of my complaints, and I may even slap a smile on my face where no one knows…but inside, I’m mentally complaining.

So how can I punish a habit in my child that I can’t even kick?! Until my son sees me illustrate what a patient and grateful heart looks like, I can’t expect him to mirror one either. So I’m working on it. Trying to roll my own eyes less, take the frustrations in stride, be more patient in those tiresome moments, not fuss over the highlighted planners, and yes…

not even cry over the spilled milk.

Katie Wells
Katie resides in Plano and is a Stay-at-Home mommy who rarely “stays at home”! Between gymnastics, Bible study, and making the most of Mother’s Day Out, she is always looking for the next fun playdate in the area! Katie and her husband are both Mississippi natives and alumni of Mississippi State University. (Insert cowbell ringing.) They started out with a four-legged child, Manny, and five years later decided they were ready for the “real thing”. They quickly realized you’re NEVER READY. Greyson was born in October 2014 and has proved to be “a little Texas Tornado.” Her favorites include ANYTHING chocolate, SEC football, Netflix binge-watching, small town festivals, shopping the clearance aisle at Marshall’s, and throwing theme parties. You can read about her adventures, victories, failures, and everything in between on her blog, Two For One Wells.