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By Jennifer Langston

A new study has found that trying to do simple tasks while listening to whining leads to low poor performance and errors.

Test subjects were asked to do subtraction problems while listening to an infant crying, regular speech, whining, silence, a high-pitched table saw and baby talk. Across the board, among men and women -- parents or not -- whining led to the lowest productivity and most mistakes. (For more detail on the study, see The Body Odd.)

This makes me feel much better about my own wreck of a to-do list. A quick survey at my house this morning found even the most innocuous household objects can trigger a whine-fest:

  • The strap on my 2-year-old daughter’s shoe that was sticking out in a way that didn’t match the other foot.
  • My leg that accidentally touched her orange chair.
  • Yogurt that was the wrong color.
  • Not enough soap in the bath, too much soap in the bath, soap that kept getting lost in the bath.

So what are some strategies we can all use to cut down on the whining and get more done?

Holly Klaassen, mom to a 7-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy outside Vancouver, B.C., employs a firm “you whine, you lose” policy. Whether the issue is a cookie at a bakery or an argument over cleaning up a room, her kids have learned that whining never leads to anything good.

“Whining is one of my hot buttons,” she said. “This is not to say that I’m a perfect parent, but I think the reason they don’t whine more is that they know it’s not going to happen if they whine.”

Other tools in her arsenal: the power of distraction, a sense of humor and a well-timed tickle.

Other suggestions I’ve heard include putting on “magic ears” that only allow you to hear your children when they’re speaking calmly, telling them “I don’t speak whine” and snapping them out of the moment by saying something in a silly, happy voice and then asking them to tell you what they want in that voice.

Or, just fixing the offending strap on their shoe and moving on.

What are your best tricks for nipping whining in the bud?