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Whining in Pre-Verbal Toddler

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
Almost 16 month old son whines and it's getting annoying.

We pick him up whenever he wants to be held. He gets lots of attention and he's mainly with me, sometimes Daddy. We play ball, blocks, hide and seek, we draw, go for walks, etc., etc.

Most of the whining happens when we're in the house and he's not getting attention. If he were attention starved I could understand this. If he were only picked up for whining I could understand this.

I understand he's a toddler and is learning about communication. If he were older, I'd tell him to use his words so I can help him get what he wants. Any ideas on what I can do to get him to use something besides whining?
post #2 of 15
My ds is only 13 months and whines sometimes too but we sign, so he also can tell me when he needs something specific. He has a toy box that he has a hard time opening and he will sign "help" when he wants to play in there. So, I highly recomend teaching him some signs - help, please, play, etc.
post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 
I forgot to mention he knows some sign as well. I don't think it's a problem with communicating what he wants. We can usually figure that out quickly. I think it's just a way to get attention. But, since he gets plenty of other attention without whining, I'm trying to figure out how to stop the whining. I don't want to ignore him when he's doing it, I just want to eliminate the behavior.
post #4 of 15
This is a phase- they all do it! And it is just like what you said- he wants things and can't really communicate all of it and it turns into whining. Man, whining can be really grating. And its doubly stressful because you go through the internal debate of "Do I give it? How much should I expect? Can he learn "manners"? It's just a little thing... no! It's the start of a behavior pattern I need to nip in the bud! No! He's just little! AAAAHHHHH!"

They whine because they want and can't use words. They also have no concept of time, that you can't pay attention to them every moment, that there are things they can't have or do, that there is danger out there, etc. So, they whine and get frustrated and it is part of development- learning these limits.

When we were going through this, I staked out things that were absolutes- no playing withthings that were dangerous, no hitting, etc. Then, I tried to give him what he wanted as long as it was reasonable. Because they don't understand time, what I asked from him was to stop whining and say "please"- just the word "please" (the rest I could figure out). To me, that was enough and he was able to do that and it seemed to be a way to convey the message that whining wasn't the way, but it wasn't expecting more than you can really ask from such a little passionate, living-in-the-moment person that a young toddler is. We still occasionally had some whining, and of course, there were temper tantrums sometimes when I didn't give him what he wanted, but that, too, is part of learning.
post #5 of 15
When dd didn't know the words we had her use signs. I don't think there is anything wrong with not picking your child up until they communicate with you in a way besides whining, even if it is just putting their arms up to be held. It would be different if they were crying in need of you, but whining...that's just my opinion.
post #6 of 15
i have been telling ds to use his words since 13mths old. he will sometimes do it, it reminds him to calm down ad use signs or motion for what he wants.
post #7 of 15
And its doubly stressful because you go through the internal debate of "Do I give it? How much should I expect? Can he learn "manners"? It's just a little thing... no! It's the start of a behavior pattern I need to nip in the bud! No! He's just little! AAAAHHHHH!"


:

Thank you - that is my internal debate that I have every day about my preverbal 15mo. And the rest of your post was helpful and reassuring too.
post #8 of 15
This is so my DD! She is driving me INSANE some days! She doesn't really have many words yet (dog, cow, mama, dada are about it) and she just whines. I keep reminding myself that that is essentially her only way to get our attention, but it really does grate on you! I'm trying to encourage her to use words (she has lots of signs she uses too) ("do you want Muma to lift you up? Can you ask Mama - say 'up please mama'" etc). I have no helpful advice, just know you're not alone
post #9 of 15
My son goes through spurts of this. He's 23 mo. and a late talker. We do lots of signs, so when he whines I use a simple script and repeat it over and over. It usually takes until he's tired or going through a developmental leap, when it starts again.

I say, "Julian, you sound frustrated (or upset). Is there something you want? (if he nods yes, I say "Say mama and then show me (or sign) me what you want" We get into a lot of new signs this way.

If not I aks if he wants hugs since he feels lousy, and then he lean-hugs me and goes on with his thing.

It DOES get annoying though. By the end of the day, I'm reminding myself to breathe more than I'd like.
post #10 of 15
Giving them the words for what they want really helps. Since they usually understand more words than they can say it helps them to feel understood and validated. So if DC is whining for a cup of water instead of just giving the water you can say (and sign) "you're thirsty, you'd like some water" and then say "let's ask nicely for some water." You can help them sign it and at the same time say "water please mommy" then give the water and say "thank you mommy" and sign that too...i usually follow up the "thank you mommy" with "you're welcome X" just so he gets familiar with the whole manners thing...

My son would get distracted from whining by this...and he learned a lot of words and signs this way...plus at least it helps to feel like you're not just giving in to the whining.

Also, since children understand positive statements/commands better than negative ones you may want to avoid telling them "not to whine" or "stop whining" and instead say "ask politely" (or properly or kindly or whatever.)

HTH
post #11 of 15
Sign language really helps us..


Amy
post #12 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks all for your thoughts. I guess the thing to remember, is this is just a stage. We're trying to teach him more and more signs, but he only learns so fast. I have found it helpful a couple times to say, "Use your words." I don't know if he knows what that means, but sometimes he stops whining.
post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by kittygrrl523 View Post
Giving them the words for what they want really helps. Since they usually understand more words than they can say it helps them to feel understood and validated. So if DC is whining for a cup of water instead of just giving the water you can say (and sign) "you're thirsty, you'd like some water"

Great advice. We do this with ds2 and I think it really helps.
post #14 of 15

I've read through this whole thread (twice) and half the advice is "give them words". Just like the original poster, my 15 month-old daughter is PRE-VERBAL. That means she cannot talk. How can you "give words" to a baby that doesn't say "mama" or "dada" yet? As far as signing goes: she's already being raised bilingual (probably the major reason why she is still completely pre-verbal) and we don't know any sign. I think it's a bit late to try introduce that. I realize that it's just a phase, but it's been going on for a few months already and she hasn't shown any signs of talking yet. If I can possibly get some usable advice before she turns 2, that would really help us out.

post #15 of 15
I think maybe what is meant is that when you realize what your lo is whining about you always acknowledge and say the words for them so they learn. This is a hard time for toddlers in that space where they know what they want but don't yet know how to communicate it. It does pass, not fun while it lasts though!
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