How do you stop whining from a 2-year old? - Mothering Forums
Life with a Toddler > How do you stop whining from a 2-year old?
lovemycoolfamily's Avatar lovemycoolfamily 06:08 PM 02-13-2006
Hi -

Just wondering how you deal with whining ... our DD resorts to whining when she doesn't get what she wants (like a cookie right before dinner). Sometimes the whining evolves into a crying episode that isn't as big as a tantrum but is pretty loud.

This has just started, so we are trying to figure out what to do and how to be consistent. My husband and I have different thoughts - he says if he tells her to "go ahead, cry ... the answer is still no" she seems to stop relatively soon. I think my approach of "stop crying ... the answer is still no" works better. Obviously, neither of these approaches works really well! We've never had to deal with this, thankfully - but we better have a strategy, and quick. I like the idea of ignoring it - but it's what we say about it that I want to figure out.

By the way, we have used time outs, but we reserve them for aggression against her little, defenseless 8-month old brother. I'm reading the book "1-2-3 Magic" but haven't finished yet ... but I would prefer to keep the time outs for big offenses. It's how to deal with the whining - probably more annoying to us than dangerous! - that I'm not sure about.

I imagine there have been posts about this before ... I'm new, and haven't seen anything lately (but could have missed it).

Thanks for ideas!


Mooney's Avatar Mooney 11:24 PM 02-13-2006
I think this is one of those times when it will take several consistent interactions for the whining to stop (or may not be possible to prevent it altogether, considering how many moms complain about kids whining.)

My approach (with my son, 21mo, and niece, almost 3) is to answer once and then ignore the whining entirely. Sometimes the answer is, "no, but you can x, y or z," which sometimes avoids the whining/fit. I try not to let it show that I'm annoyed by the whining, or to say "don't whine/cry" for the same reason. If their tone changes to more earnest and polite or the subject changes altogether, they get my full attention again.

I think you're right about the time-outs. We reserve them mostly for hurting each other intentionally or dangerous behavior after a warning (like climbing up the outside of the staircase). Whining is one of those things where there are natural consequences.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I, as the adult, am the one who has the major influence on the emotional balance of the situation. When I let myself get upset, it does nothing to help the kids regain their composure.
TortelliniMama's Avatar TortelliniMama 11:42 PM 02-13-2006
I definitely wouldn't use time-out for whining. (Thus far, we haven't used them at all, and don't have plans to, but that's another topic... ) If ds is whining about something that he *can* have/do, then I encourage him to "say it in a strong voice." If he's whining about something that I'm not going to say yes to, then I acknowledge his desire (e.g., "I know, you want the (whatever), and Mama said no.") and offer sympathy that he's upset/disappointed/mad/whatever about the situation (e.g., "You're very (whatever) because Mama said not now. It's hard to wait."). I'd do that if it evolved into crying, too. The whining/crying isn't working to get him whatever it is that I said no to, but I'm acknowledging his feelings. (Although, if it's something that I said no to in a reflexive way, without realizing how important it is to him relative to how unimportant it is to me (like, say, if he asks to do playdoh and I'm not really in the mood), in which case I'd realize that quickly and say something like, "Mama didn't know that it was so important for you to play playdoh now. Can you ask me again in a strong voice?")

Some people might suggest that this method of acknowledging the feelings behind the whining is giving attention to an undesired behavior, and that the whining will increase as a result. (I don't mean that the OP or PP would necessarily say this. I mean, if I were to describe it to 100 random people.) The thing is, though, if a child is whining to get attention, then I think the problem that needs addressing is that the child needs more attention, and to learn other, more appropriate ways of getting it. With those appropriate techniques in his/her repertoire, the whining *will* drop out over time.

Ds generally only whines now when he's tired, and it's actually usually for things that he can have, but since he's tired, it's like he doesn't realize that he hasn't already asked for them. He seems to be upset because we haven't read his mind.
Slabobbin's Avatar Slabobbin 11:53 PM 02-13-2006
I think it is just part of being a two year old. I try my best to just ignore it completely.
tigrinho's Avatar tigrinho 11:51 AM 02-14-2006
when my dd whines I tell her that she needs to ask nicely before she have/do whatever. I also tell that it is easier to just ask nicely the first time and that we all enjoy it much more when she does. With things that she can't have right that second, I always explain to her that she has to wait for x to occur before we can do that. She is starting to understand waiting a little better, but boy, she has a good memory. She never forgets what she's waiting for!
BlueStateMama's Avatar BlueStateMama 01:04 PM 02-14-2006
We had a big "talk" about it when it first started (sometime close to 2 1/2, maybe a couple of months ago?) I did a big elaborate "whining" demonstration (which DS thought was hysterical, I just overly exaggerated it to show him what I meant by "whining") and then I contrasted this with a "nice" voice...starting with, "Mama, please..." I told him that the whining hurt Mama's ears (again, accompanied by the dramatic clutching of my ears.) It's worked pretty well for us, when he starts whining I say, "Owww!! Whining!! Nooooo!!" and throw my hands up over my ears - he always giggles and says, "Mama, please..." in the cute, "nice" voice. It's sort of our little comedy routine, but it also seems to snap him out of the "whining" mode. Of course, he doesn't always get what he wants, but I always say, "Thank you for using your nice voice. Mama appreciates that very much."
lovemycoolfamily's Avatar lovemycoolfamily 04:46 PM 02-14-2006
Thanks for these great replies! Different styles that suit your personalities, and I really appreciate it. Part of this parenting thing is figuring out how you *want* to be as a parent, and what feels right ... and these are all great ways I think my DH and I will discuss and figure out what will work for us. Thank you, thank you!