Ask any mother and she’ll tell you: When it is time to sit down and concentrate on something, you must evict your children from the room.
Why exactly? It is not the background chatter, and if you think it is that crazy episode of Yo Gabba Gabba where you shouldn’t bite your friends, you’d be wrong too. No, the one thing that will bring you to your knees every time is your child’s whining, and now its been scientifically proven.
Researchers at Clark University in Massachusetts asked volunteers to don headphones while trying to work through a set of math problems. While wearing the headphones, they were played six different sounds: A baby crying, people talking, a mom using baby talk to converse with her child (motherese), a screeching table saw, silence, and a toddler whining.
The participants made the most mistakes when they were listening to a toddler whine. The study concluded that a child’s whining peaks between ages 2 and 4, and that it is an exploration of auditory sensitivity.
The study confirms what many parents already know. A whining child is really distracting. However, the study didn’t answer the question as to why it is so annoying, and I’d be happy to share that answer.
A whining child is a call to action. When your child is whining about a toy, crying for a Popsicle, or screaming at the top of their lungs when they don’t want to share, it is a call to action for the parents. You must stop the whining, because as the research indicates, it is of a pitch and intensity that you just know won’t end on its own. If you hear whining, you are instantly running through the options to get it to stop: Time Outs, Nap Time, or stuffing a cookie in his or her mouth. Any of these options mean you have to stop what you are doing and take action.
When it comes to distractions, many mothers would rather sit outside listening to their neighbor power wash the driveway inch by tiny inch. Now if they would only do research on how to get the whining to stop. In the meantime, keep that cookie jar close at hand.