Mean & Whiny Toddler

Updated on April 06, 2011
M.2. asks from Lima, OH
6 answers

Hello. I have a 4 year old son & a 3 year old son. My 4 year old is VERY mean to his little brother. It seems like he will go out of his way to make my 3 year old miserable. I'm not really sure how to deal with this anymore. I've put him in time out, I've explained to him it's not nice to be mean to his little brother & it just doesn't stop. However, my 3 year old is very nice to his big brother. Even when he gets hit, gets his toys broke from my 4 year old, etc. he's ALWAYS nice to him. I don't get it.

Another thing, my 4 year old will be 5 in a couple months & I have just never heard a child at this age be so extremely whiny. He is whiny all day about absolutely everything. It's not just whining, it's serious temper tantrums where he gets so upset that he screams at the top of his lungs & falls to the ground kicking & all. It doesn't really matter if I take toys away, put him in time out, take TV time away etc. he doesn't care. Sometimes, I just feel like I could literally pull my hair out lol because the constant whining and crying is so overwhelming at times that I just don't understand. My 5 year old nephew doesn't act like this nor has he ever really acted like this and my 3 year old doesn't act like this. Am I doing something wrong??

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answers from Detroit on

I am currently reading "Setting Limits For Your Strong-Willed Child" by Robert MacKenzie and you might find it helpful. One of the things I like about it is it does not advocate spanking. And it explains that different children have different temperments, and some are stronger-willed than others. But you are going to have to get a lot more firm with your 4 year old. Tantrums and whining mean a trip to his room alone for 10 or 15 minutes - EVERY TIME - until he decides to calm down and talk without whining. If he's beating up on his brother, don't bother with explanations and lectures - he goes to sit in the naughty spot for 5 minutes IMMEDIATELY and then he has to apologize. Set a timer for the 5 minutes and then if he continues to yell or fuss, set it for longer. Start giving him choices that warn him what is about to happen if he doesn't behave - "Either you decide not to hurt your brother, or you are going in time-out." Then if he persists, follow through. If he breaks one of his brother's toys, he has to give up one of his toys for his brother to play with. Remain calm and don't resort to yelling or screaming yourself - just be matter for fact. Realize that kids that are strong-willed are going to test you over and over and over just to see how serious you really are - you need to be stronger than them and not give in.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I never answered my kids when they whined. I would tell them that if they wanted to talk to me, they had to use their big kid voices. That said, if they continued to whine, I'd tell them that they needed to whine in their rooms and I'd send them on their merry way.

Temper tantrums - ignore him. Walk away.

Hitting and being mean to little brother - put him in time out immediately -- every single time. Make him sit quietly. If he talks or gets up, it starts over.
He will learn. You need to be firm and consistent. You cannot waffle - ever.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

I really strongly recommend going to see a homeopath. If you want to do some research on children's personality and remedy types, go to this website: It is kind of intense, but read it. I've found both of my older children's personalities on the site. It is so helpful!

Yes, keep up with the discipline, but sometimes we need to look at other things, too. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Some children are just more easily triggered, more sensitive or strong-willed, less happy.

Some of this can be physical. I suggest you do everything you can to get "modern" chemicals out of your son's diet and surroundings. I'm extremely chemically sensitive, and it upsets my ability to focus, to sleep, to reason clearly. I have to be very careful what I get exposed to, and with all the chemicals that now exist in the average home and public places, that means I don't go out much.

I've also been in group testing situations and watched many, many children melt down into weeping huddles or start bouncing violently off the wall within a few minutes of having a drop of some dilute chemical squirted under their tongues. The change is attention-getting, perhaps hard to believe unless you've seen it.

I hope you'll investigate this. Google "non-toxic home" and find a bazillion reports about how effective and safe baking soda and white vinegar are as household cleaners. Food additives (certain preservatives and colors) have also been proved to make some children more hyper in a very large and well-controlled British study.

I expect you'll get lots of recommendations for good books. Here's one I've heard wonderful things about, but have not yet read: Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents Whose Child Is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic by Mary Kurcinka.

Wishing you successful changes!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Help your oldest child not only get punishment for his hitting and such, but also help him develop empathy and care for others.

As for whining/tantrums to that extreme, it seems a little much for a child his age. Do you have any type of rewards system for him or one on one positive interaction with him as well?

Dr. Sears has excellent advice on discipline/behavioral issues here. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to the 'bothersome' behavior to read more specific things:

He also has a book too:



answers from Cleveland on

I just wanted to let you know you are not alone. My 4yr old, 5 in Aug, is extremely easy to upset/moody, aggressive towards his brothers (older and younger), etc. Much like you describe yours. It's like he lacks empathy. He can also be very funny (hysterical, actually), loving, and lots of other good things. Great things! But he is SO easily affected by hunger, lack of sleep (and he's horrible when he first wakes up...for about 10 minutes every time!!), and lack of ATTENTION!! He behaves so differently one-on-one when his brothers are not around to steal our attention.

Luckily his bratty behaviors have not carried over to pre-school (THANK GOD) but I am constantly struggling at home. He's ALWAYS been a bit strong willed, since birth!!

I have same discipline issues in that he does. not. care. if I take things away, send him to his room, etc. It's seems there's nothing he likes so much, that it will upset him to do without as punishment! My sister suggested punishment with chores...tried that, didn't work. I think he was bad just so he could clean the toilet! He enjoyed it!!! Sigh...

My MIL says he's just plain immature for his age, nothing more nothing less. Not excusing it, but just explaining it. I try very very hard to ignore him now during his fits. Got tired of being on pins and needles around him trying to keep him happy and make sure he didn't have a melt down.

I think I will check out the previous poster's book about strong willed kids, that sounds like it might be very interesting.

Thx for posting, I hope just knowing other kids are like this too makes you feel better. :)

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