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How can we get him to think about the tone of his voice before he speaks?

My son has a really bad problem with constantly whining or sounding "attitudey" when he speaks. He swears he doesn't know when he is doing it. I really just don't think he thinks about it before he opens his mouth. His friends are starting to get angry with him, and he is constantly upsetting people. This isn't really new, but it has gotten worse recently. As is, he gets warned the first time, with a reminder to think about his tone before he talks, then the second time, he gets a privilege removed for the day. The third time, he gets another privilege removed. Then it is extended to two days, then three. He never goes anywhere without a parent yet anyway, so we don't ground him from friends, but would if that were the case. As is now, he is grounded from all video and computer games, cartoons, and movies for the next 10 days. But he still is doing it.


Asked by Mom1Stepmom1 at 11:26 AM on Jun. 15, 2009 in School-Age Kids (5-8)

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Answers (6)
  • I have an 8 yr old that is very similar. Every time I hear that tone, I simply interrupt him (yes, I know it's rude, but so is the tone), and tell him he needs to stop talking, think about how he is talking to me/his brother/whoever, and start again when he can talk to us the right way. It is hard, it takes time, and I know how frustrating it is, but you just have to keep working with him. My son says he doesn't know he's doing it either, and I don't think he does. I think it's just the emotion of the moment coming out and he truly doesn't realize how it makes him sound. That might help, too - when he does that, stop him and ask him how he feels at that moment. Maybe by getting him to learn to recognize his emotions and learn to deal with them the right way, that will help, too.

    Answer by tropicalmama at 11:35 AM on Jun. 15, 2009

  • For a few minutes every day, have him practice thinking first. If he gets used to doing it, it will come naturally. You can even have him read a story to you, and tell him before he reads a new page to stop and think about his voice. Good luck!

    Answer by Bmat at 11:29 AM on Jun. 15, 2009

  • Dang. I thought it would stop with tiem. With my 5 yr. old I literally tell him freeze, start over in a diff. tone. I also do some direct teaching asking him to listen while I do both and see if hears the diff. as well as ask him if he hear and/or feels the diff. when he restates it. I'm going to try asking him how he feels too, I really like that suggestion. Thanks, tropical

    Answer by MamiJaAyla at 3:22 PM on Jun. 15, 2009

  • What if you were to record him talking with his friends when he didn't know (video tape or audio tape), and if you hear him getting "that tone" with his friends, play the tape so he can see/hear it himself! Maybe he'll understand how his tone really looks/sounds and become more conscientious over time?!

    Answer by LoriKeet at 4:59 PM on Jun. 15, 2009

  • I know it's probably not the best thing, but I repeated things my daughter would say back to her in the same exact tone she used and she would get all upset. The negative tones eventually started to go away, though.

    Answer by sparrowprincess at 10:22 PM on Jun. 15, 2009

  • I like the idea of taping him so he can hear himself. Not video taping, just tape recording him. He probably does not realize he is doing it. Whining usually is a sign of being tired. There are also some good kids books about whining, being bossy which might help him see himself. Look at the Help Me Be Good (Whining/Bossy) here  and also Manners.


    Answer by momjs at 11:21 PM on Jun. 15, 2009