My toddler is continuously surprising me with new skills. Some are great and exciting, but others not so much. His latest skill? Toddler whining! My toddler is whining ALL DAY LONG. By the end of the day my head is pounding and I’m ready to throw in the towel.
At first, I thought maybe he didn’t feel well. It started after a bout of the stomach flu so I chalked it up to that. However three days later, as it was still continuing I started to question his motives. The tipping point was when he was in the throes of a fit, his brother farted (boys are gross) and he immediately stopped crying and fell over in an all-out laughing fit.
Clearly, he was feeling fine and I realized the whining was more of a manipulation tactic. Now don’t get me wrong I know being a toddler has to be utterly frustrating on the best of days.
You wake up excited to explore and play and all day mom is telling you no. There are so many things you want to say and questions you’d like to ask, but you just can’t find the words to communicate all of your wants, needs, thoughts, and ideas. Hence the whining to express your frustrations and to get moms attention.
As a second time mom, thankfully I know how to get a handle on this. I’m not promising it’s going to be a quick fix and you are probably going to need to stock up on the Advil, but if you follow these tactics and stay consistent, it won’t be long before you get a handle on the toddler whining and encourage better communication skills.
How To Stop Toddler Whining
When he comes to me whining and crying, I can usually tell that he’s wanting something. He’s making eye contact and approaching me, but instead of asking for something he’s whining loudly. This is when I encourage communication.
I repeat the phrase, “use your words.” I then will list off a few things that I think might be the solution to his problem. “Are you hungry? Would you like milk? Do you want to play?”
Usually at this point, one of these will peak his interest and he’ll repeat one back to me. I usually ask again, encouraging him to use the word again and then I will go get whatever he’s asked for. This teaches him that he has to communicate to have his needs met instead of whining.
If you’re successful at getting your toddler to use their words, make sure you not only do what they asked for, assuming it’s allowed but give them positive reinforcement. Let them know how great they did using their words, a “great job using your words!” or a simple “thank you for using your words.” Not only lets them know they did a great thing, but also teaches them what you mean when you say use your words.
Ignore The Whining
If you’ve encouraged communication and your toddler refused to engage, I will then ignore the behavior. Sometimes this means mom leaving the room to take a deep breath. I ignore the whining for a few more minutes. About half the time he will give up and move on to playing with one of his toys.
If he continues whining and crying I will try one more time to encourage communication. Usually, by this point, he realizes mom isn’t giving in to the whining and if he wants something he’s going to have to ask for it.
Sometimes distraction can be a great technique if you believe your toddler is whining just to whine. Sometimes they are bored or tired, and whining is a fun way to let mom know. My toddler is thankfully easily distracted. He loves all things farming so I use this to my advantage. “Hey! Can you find mom the combine?” Or “Hey! Where is your hay baler?” He usually jumps up on a new mission to find said farming equipment.
If you’ve tried everything, encouraged communication, ignored, encouraged communication once more, and tried to distract, it may be time for a time-out. Sometimes the world can be overwhelming for our toddlers. A time-out at this point is not a punishment but a chance for both mom and toddler to find a quiet space to calm themselves.
I will gather his favorite stuffed animals and let him know it’s time to take a break in his room. He is usually still kicking and crying and at this point is sometimes in a full-out tantrum. I go lay him in his bed, snuggle him up with his favorite blankets and stuffed animals and turn down the lights. He usually calms right down and enjoys snuggling up.
Sometimes he’ll fall asleep and others he’ll get up and play in his room. I usually go take an Advil and pour a cup of tea and take a moment to myself.
How Not To React To Toddler Whining
Do Not Yell
I realize the whining and crying is stressful as all get out, but yelling will only add to your stress and your toddler’s behavior. Your toddler’s whining is now getting a reaction out of you and letting him know that this technique is working. Whatever you do don’t yell. Even better, don’t show that it’s bothering you at all. If you need to it is ok to step away and calm yourself down as long as your toddler is in a safe space.
Do Not Give In To Toddler Whining
Do not start throwing things at the problem. It might be easy to go grab some juice and a fruit snack and hand them to your whining toddler but this just teaches him that whining gets you rewards. Sometimes the whining is a result of being hungry, and that is fine, but make sure you encourage your toddler to communicate in a calm manner by using his words, what he is wanting before you feed the problem.
I hope these tricks will help you stop the toddler whining in your home. It is something almost all of us toddler parents go through. Thankfully it is just a stage and with these tips, it will hopefully be a short stage! Remember to keep your cool!
If you have any tips for stopping the toddler whining that have worked for you, I’d love to hear about them!