Like most kids out there, my sweet and adorable children are master whiners. “Mommyyy?!” is a drawn-out word I hear 37 times a day, right up there with “I’m tiiiiiiiiired” and “I’m hungryyy.” These are the times I close my eyes, picture the beach (any beach) and practice my yoga breathing. It usually works the first 20 times of the day, and then I snap. You know how it is: listening to your child whine starts to sound like nails on a chalkboard (especially when you’re trying to accomplish something really basic, like cutting up a pineapple or applying sunscreen).
A new study confirms that the power of whining to distract people while doing simple math was even greater than other noises that people typically find annoying. Okay, phew, I am not alone: whining really is annoying (yoga be damned!). According to researchers, it didn’t matter whether someone was a parent or not – whining had the same effect. Even so, I think that parents deserve some extra sympathy because, well, we’re surrounded by whining all day long. “You’re basically doing less work and doing it worse when you’re listening to the whines,” explains study co-author Rosemarie Sokol Chang.
Researchers asked people to do subtraction problems while listening to an infant crying, regular speech, silence, whining, a high-pitched table saw and exaggerated baby talk. The result? People made more mistakes when listening to whines than any of the other noises (yes, folks, whining trumped a high-pitched table saw!).
Of course, none of this will come as a surprise to most moms out there, many whom have a physical reaction to the sound of their child whining. Still, having scientific proof that I’m not crazy – that whining really is that annoying – makes me feel better. It reminds me that I’m human.