Dealing with Toddler Whining

Updated on April 21, 2010
C.P. asks from Hermosa Beach, CA
13 answers

Hi moms! I have a pretty terrific 26 month old, but lately, the whine just turned up. I can handle a lot of things, but whining is not one of them.

Am already applying getting down on her level, asking calmly to ask me in her regular voice what she wants and if that doesn't work, I walk away and say, I will be in the kitchen or wherever when you are ready to talk to me. Distraction is another tactic. Am aware of not caving in and trying to nip it in the bud ASAP, but there are some days...

Any other tips or suggestions that you've used and have worked dealing with the whining?

Thanks so much!

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answers from Los Angeles on

Look her in the face and say, "I'm sorry, I don't speak whinese. You'll have to try again." It's worked for all three of my kids.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Oi my 3 yr old is incessantly whiny and I have tried everything you are supposed to! Very annoying to me as well and starts to wear you down after a long day! Now I just firmly and happily tell her "use your big girl voice and your manners because Mommy can't hear you when you whine." Then follow through with not giving her what she asks for until she doesn't whine. She is actually very good about switching "voices" as soon as I remind her, but I yearn for the day she doesn't have to be reminded all day long. I think the key for her is the happy tone in my voice - I just get really upbeat and try to send the happy vibes her way. Not always easy, but I try to push away the annoyed feelings as much as possible! Also I try to stay in tuned to her when she is sleepy and hungry - sure to cause whiney-ness that cannot be cured by anything but sleep and food! When she is overly tired or hungry it doesn't matter what tactic I use the only tone of voice she has is whine or cry. So when I find myself frazzled from over-whining I have to remind myself of this. It's like I get so caught up in the whine battle I lose sight of everything sometimes! It rattles my brain.

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answers from Portland on

Sounds like you're doing all the right stuff. This just takes time before the child realizes the whining actually makes it harder to be listened to. I'm all for empathetic parenting, but since you seem to already be there, I'd suggest getting a package of those small foam ear plugs. Let your daughter watch you put them in after you've asked her a couple of times to use another voice to talk to you. Tell her it's hard to listen to the whining, so you're going to make it quieter for awhile. When she's ready to stop whining, she can give you a signal, and you'll be delighted to take out the earplugs and listen to her.

Good luck. Patience is such a big part of parenting…

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I have a sign in my kitchen "There will be a $5 charge for whining" because I hate whining so much! LOL! I used to tell my children that I couldn't hear whining, to go into their rooms until they could stop whining, or sometimes, when I'd really hit the wall, I'd whine right back. That would make them laugh and often that's all it took. You can't use that one every time.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

.... the good ol' whining continuum.
Even older kids and Teenagers whine. Different variations of it.
If there is a definitive "cure" for it... that would be the million dollar 8th wonder of the world! LOL

I like Peg M's idea of putting the ear-plugs in WHILE the child sees you and watches you put them in.

For me, I just clear cut say "no whining" to my kids. Yes, and of course I try all of the other great suggestions here and per my kids ages.
But, at the end of the day... I just say "NO whining...." and then I walk away. My Son, didn't whine, until he heard his older sister do it... then oh boy, he thought it was so fun and he parroted her. Ugh.

I tried the "Mommy can't hear you when you whine..." blah blah blah tactic too. But alas... what I say now is just point blank "No whining. It is irritating and I don't like it... and it makes Mommy you want a fussy Mommy???????" And then my kids say "No... " and then I found just being blunt/direct about it, is best with my kids. And then they will stop. After saying that once my daughter actually said to my son/her brother "okay shhhhh, stop... Mommy had it already.... she doesn't think its funny anymore." And then they actually apologized to me. Then I praised them.

All the best,

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I simply tell them I can't understand them or hear them when they whine. Even my 2 year old respondes to that by changing his tone to ask the question. I'm not sure where Ipicked that one up but it worked with my older children as well.



answers from Oklahoma City on

Ugh, I know what you mean. My son is 18 months and he whines sometimes too. Although, he doesn't have many words yet, so I believe it will cut down when he does. I actually started to get really tired of it though and I have started to teach him a few signs (sign language). He's got the hang of one already and hopefully a few more soon. I also use "Mama can't understand you when you cry/whine/scream like that" he usually quiets a little and then I continue talking to him about whatever.

Good luck!



answers from Minneapolis on

I've had an eye out for information on whining for years because I'm really curious why it happens. I think what makes the most sense to me is that whining comes from a sense of powerlessness.

A few other ideas is if your child is doing something like asking for water in a whining voice, give her the water and THEN have her repeat her request in her normal voice. If she's focused on what she needs, in this case a thirst problem, she won't be focused on the whining - rather the water. Once she gets her thirst resolved, then she is able to focus on what you're teaching her.

The other thing you can do is be consistent that she does need to say something in her normal voice. Let her know that you will follow through until she says it. It may take time at first, but she'll catch on. Go ahead and add in a lot of humor like another mom said. For example, with a silly expression, cover your ears or talk to your ears "hey ears, did you hear that? " and have your ears talk back "yeah. OWWCH!" Or have the conversation with your pet, or a cup etc. It really does help. Some kids like funny noises or start doing a whining dance. Try something and you'll be surprised how humor helps move things forward.

I think all kids whine when they're toddlers and preschoolers. It does go away eventually, but addressing it as it occurs helps too.

p.s. watch if it happens when she's hungry or tired. If so, address the causing factor, not the whining. Think of the whining as a cue that she needs food or rest in those instances.



answers from Indianapolis on

A few things I noticed in reading through some of the other comments are things like saying "Tonf of Voice", etc. We have to remember at 26 months, they still don't understand A LOT of what we're trying to communicate to them.

We tried to rationalize with our 3.5 (almost 4) year-old son the other day about what he liked best and least when it came to disciplining him. We had 3 options and asked him 3 times which one didn't like, we got 3 different answers. He just couldn't comprehend the question we were asking no matter how many different ways we tried to phrase it.

Unfortunately, the whining is part of the next few years, and it's really annoying. I do agree completely that we have to talk to them less like babies and more like people. We just have to remember that they may not fully understand everything we're asking of them or how to settle down to communicate with us in their way. Sometimes, I think it's as easy as asking them to help you or to "show me" because you don't understand.

Our son was pretty easy as a 2 year-old, but his younger sister (who just turned 2 a few weeks ago) is giving us a run for our money - oh, the drama. Once she gets worked-up about something, there's no turning back, and we've had to resort to walking away, letting her throw the tantrum and then to talk to her once it's out of her system.

We try to take a one-size-fits-all approach with rearing our kids when in reality, they're individuals, and we really need to find what makes each of them tick in their own way and then implement accordingly. We've already found that approaches to disciplining our son are going to be much different from our daughter.

Good luck! You have LOTS of company here to empathize with you.



answers from Los Angeles on

"I'd love to ___________ but I can't understand you when you use that voice."
"I'll be in the other room till you're ready to talk nicely."
.... just be consistent and it should stop quickly.



answers from Fort Walton Beach on

Walking away is the best thing you can do...You're doing great! Just remember this when they turn into teenagers..they regress and so do you LOL...DON'T GIVE IN! I found the best thing I can do when they pull that is to laugh and walk away..when they follow..tell them you will take them seriously when they can talk to you without the "baby needs a bottle or baby needs their diaper changed voice"..



answers from Portland on

Another tactic is to say, I can't hear you when you use that tone of voice and then completely ignore her. You have to be consistent with whatever tactic you use. I suggest that you use just one tactic and be careful to always say the same thing over and over and over. :)

Also important is to be sure that she is on a regular schedule for sleep and eating. Being tired and/or hungry increases the whininess. With my grandchildren, when they start to whine, I assess whether or not they are in need of a nap or a snack; then I provide them with it. If it's close to meal time, I still give them a healthy snack such as a couple of slices of apple, a couple of crackers with a small piece of cheese, a handful of raisins or a bit of whatever I'm cooking. If it's too late for a nap, I settle them down with quiet time activities. An educational TV program or DVD is helpful until I get dinner on the table. Coloring, drawing, "reading", while soft music is playing.

A comment about TV. Yes, too much TV is not good. But then neither is a cranky kid and mom. One has to balance things out. I think an extra 30 minutes of TV is much better than the hassle with a whining kid as far as emotional growth is concerned.



answers from Orlando on

I'm like the others moms who have already posted, except instead of I can't HEAR you I say I can't UNDERSTAND you when you whine, which makes much more sense and is closer to the truth anyway. I don't say it like I'm mad-- I say it like I seriously am concerned because I want to know what he's saying but just can't figure it out until he says it without whinning.

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