How To Stop Your Kid Whining

kid whining

Is your toddler driving you to distraction with his whinging and moaning? Here’s how to soothe the stress. One of the ironies of parenthood is that we wait so excitedly for our children to start talking, only to discover that toddlers should really come complete with a volume control. From not wanting to wear that particular jumper on a particular day to refusing to walk home from the park, suddenly hating the way you cut up his sandwiches, and wanting his sister’s toy, your little one could give Victor Meldrew a run for his money. But don’t despair if your miniature moaning minnie is starting to give you a headache. This behaviour is normal for his age – and can be tamed…

A different planet
If you feel like your toddler lives on a different planet to you – well, the truth is, in terms of his brain development and communication abilities, he does. And to understand why he seems to be whining all the time, it’s important to recognise this. “As adults, we tend to expect our toddlers to behave similarly to us. “But the area of the brain responsible for logical reasoning and language is not well developed until the age of 4 or 5. What this means is that toddlers are unable to vocalise their needs and emotions effectively. This is why toddlers have to use other methods of expressing the strong emotions they experience, such as by whining,
moaning, crying and sometimes more physical behaviour. “They are not ‘being naughty’. “They are simply limited by their brain development.”

Give me a reason
So why all the whinging? Toddlers can’t, because of their immature brains, ‘put a lid’ on their feelings, so they need to let them out somehow. While it can be annoying for us as parents, one of the ways a toddler can do this is by whining and moaning. “This helps the toddler to feel heard
and helps to calm him. It’s important to remember that toddlers are incapable of ‘self soothing’, so if they don’t let their feelings out, there is a risk of them learning to bottle up their emotions. In years to come this could lead to more concerning behaviour, such as eating disorders,
depression, self-harm and aggression.” So while it might drive you crazy, rest assured, whining has a purpose – it’s just another form of communication for toddlers.

You’re winding me up!
This is all fair enough, but after a long day it’s hard to keep your cool when you’re being moaned at about something you don’t see as very important. Why does whining wind us adults up so much? It’s because our adult brains are fully formed, and we’re able to see this as irritating behaviour, whereas your toddler just thinks he’s communicating. There are ways to stop it getting to you though. Think about what seems to set off whingey spells in your toddler: tiredness and hunger are common triggers and being aware of this can help. And don’t be too hard on yourself – if you do fly off the handle on occasion, it’s perfectly natural: you’re only human.

Things can only get better
So, you know why he’s doing it – and when – but how do you make your toddler stop whining quite so much? “It can be highly effective to pretend to your toddler that you just can’t understand his whining. Stand firm and let him see that it will not get him what he wants or make you change your mind. Then, if he does whine, getdown to his level so you’re  eye-to-eye and ask your toddler, in simple language, to use his usual voice instead of whining.” It’s also worth trying a reward chart – you can make ‘no whining’ a category. Keep the categories simply worded and ensure your rewards are given consistently. If you think your toddler whines too much,
you have to stick to your guns and not provide that day’s reward, even if it means more whining in the short term. If you stick to this approach and are consistent, it should improve things over time.

Making a meal of it
Mealtimes can become a battleground when you have a whining toddler in the house. How can you stop that particular point in the day becoming a black spot?. Try not to worry about how much your child is eating each day and instead just get you and your child to enjoy the meal together so that he starts to make positive associations with food. That way, you’ll both relax and you’ll be surprised how much easier it’ll be for your child to eat. Also, try not to focus on getting your child to eat everything on his plate; it’s more important to get him to try everything. And don’t offer alternatives: you’re not running a restaurant. If your child knows he isn’t going to be offered anything else he will, in the end, usually eat what he’s given first time – preferably without whining!

  • Whining What Not To Do
    Try not to give your toddler excess attention if he whines – if you do, he’ll start to think that it works.
  • Don’t chop and change your methods – be consistent in your approach and stick with it until your child gets the message.
  • Don’t let the behaviour get on top of you. Whining is a short-lived phase – and like all phases it will pass.
  • Don’t use a different approach to that of your partner – you need to back each other up.

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