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Stop your toddler from whining

January 21st, 2009 / 5 Comments

A reader asks, “How do I stop my toddler from whining?”

Honestly, even adults whine! I get whiny when I don’t get what I want. “I want a new kitchen…I want a vacation…I want to eat out every night…”

I whine when I can’t control the circumstances in my favor and get what I want.

So it is with our children. They don’t have control of very much in their lives, and we are always saying “NO” to them. So they get frustrated and whine.

When I whine, what would I want my husband to do?

1. Can he just get me what I want? No. That is unrealistic and virtually impossible. I would only want something else next time.

2. Do I want him to yell at me to STOP IT? That would start World War III!

3. Do I want him to ignore me? He’d be sleeping on the couch.

4. Do I want him to hug me and give me kind words of love? You can never go wrong with that!

So it is with our children. They whine when they are simply frustrated with how life works.

Our natural reaction to the irritating whining is anger. But a better response, the way we would want to be treated when we whine, is patience and affection.

Respond to whining with kindness like this:

1. Take your toddler away from the aggravating situation. If he is whining in a toy store because he can’t have a toy, leave the store. If I can’t have a new kitchen, I shouldn’t be going to kitchen showrooms that will only make me more whiny.

2. Give him a hug, even if he pushes you away or fights you. Hold him tight and speak soft words of love. That works when my husband does that with me when I whine.

3. Give him a cool towel for his face. A clean wipe will cool him down a bit. I do that for myself when I am feeling grumpy. A warm bath is even better.

4. Give him something he can have. Some juice, a soft toy, or a run in the stroller keeps his mind off what he could not get. If I can’t have a new kitchen, I feel better if I can get at least a smoothie!

5. Above all, don’t yell at your toddler. You will only be modeling a tantrum from you! Teach him how to accept life’s circumstances calmly and with self-control.

What else have you found to be helpful to stop a whining child?

Photo by Mel B.

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  1. That was great advice. Yelling is easy and it just doesn’t achieve anything long term other than frightening your children! Save those situations that are dangerous and warrant it. Parents can achieve so much more with tender loving care. Really good read!

  2. Sarah: Thanks. TLC definitely does more than yelling. Save the yelling for dangerous situations is wise advice.

  3. […] we tell our kids “NO” to having a cookie right before dinner and they begin to whine, we feel compelled to explain to them why they can’t have a cookie. When they continue to […]

  4. Yelling is an adult tantrum in the child’s eyes. I really like that, and it is totally how they probably see it.

    My wife and I are working hard at not yelling, and, for the most part, we have been successful. If we feel we are about to yell we usually “tag out” and switch which parent is dealing with our son.

  5. That is a good strategy, Jeremie.


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