ASK THE NANNY: Whining and Tattle Tales

Dear Nanny Kristin,

I am at wit’s end with the tattling and whining in my household. My kids are in elementary school. Any tips or tricks to get them to stop this irritating behavior?

— Annoyed by my own kids

Kristin says:

My rule with the children has always been this: Whining is only allowed when someone is hurt or in an emergency situation. Depending on their actual ages and how long this has been allowed to go on, it may take a while to break the habit.

If the children come up to you whining, remind them to speak using their usual voice and repeat themselves. Tell them you cannot understand the whining and clarify that you will not listen or engage in conversation with them unless they are going to speak properly. If they fail to do so, walk away until they are ready to talk to you suitably. If crying and tantrums occur, then so be it. Go into another room so you don’t have to listen to it or instruct them to get all of the whining out in their room by themselves and try again later.

Never respond in a tone that mocks their whining. This just sets a bad example.

Never give in to the whining either. Reason being: We don’t do fun things or get what we want by speaking this way. By giving in to the whining, you are only asking for it to happen time and time again. Don’t overpraise the children, but when they do speak suitably, comment on it positively by saying something such as, “Thank you for talking appropriately.”

Sometimes children will whine because they are frustrated with a situation such as a project they might be working on. If this is the case, give your reminders and also offer your assistance. Say something such as, “It looks like you are frustrated. Rather than whine about it, ask for help instead.”

Make sure everyone is on the same team. Mom, dad, caregivers and any other adult who is helping you raise your children should know your strict rules on whining. Children are smart. They know who they can be dramatic with and who they cannot.

Finally, as for the tattletales? Given you have older children, try this: Set out a large bowl (I’ve always used an empty plastic fish bowl…) with strips of paper and markers or pens next to it. Any time the children have a tattle to tell, rather than coming to you, they should go directly to the “Tattle Tale Bowl.” Here, they can write their tattle down on a strip of paper, fold it up, and put it in the bowl. Tell them you will “read” them at the end of the day. Most likely, by then, they will have completely forgotten all about it. Although even I will admit, some can be quite comical to read!

Xoxo, Kristin

Make a batch of Puppy Chow Popcorn the next time you have a family movie night!

Here’s what you’ll need:

14 cups popped popcorn

9 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

¾ cup creamy peanut butter

⅓ cup unsalted butter

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups powdered sugar

Let’s get started!

1. Pour the popcorn into a large bowl.

2. In a large heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate chips, peanut butter and unsalted butter. Place the bowl in a larger pot of barely simmering water to melt. Stir until smooth. Add the vanilla and stir to combine.

3. Pour the chocolate mixture over the popcorn and stir gently until the popcorn is evenly coated. Sift the confectioners’ sugar over the chocolate-covered popcorn, and stir until each piece is evenly coated with sugar.

4. Spread out the mixture on a large baking sheet and set aside for about 20 minutes, or until the chocolate is set. Break up the popcorn into manageable pieces and serve immediately, or store for up to 3 days.

Kristin Hall is a career nanny of over a decade and a curriculum book author. She specializes in ages zero to five and loves all things kid-related. Have a question? Send her an email at: Or, write to her at:

Ask the Nanny…

801 Riverside Drive

Charles City, IA 50616

– 20170308 —