Please Stop with This New Phase

Updated on October 08, 2009
A.W. asks from Lake Stevens, WA
18 answers

HI Moms-

My daughter is almost 3 and has entered a whining phase. I am trying so hard to deal with it but I think it will drive me insane. My husband works very long hours so I am pretty much it during the day. By the end of the day, I am about to snap.
So, when she does it, I try to redirect her to use a nice voice, but it doesn't work. I tell her mommy only response to nice voice. It doesn't work. I have tried to ignore her until she stops whining, but no joke, she will just keep it up even if I ignore her. I felt like the worse mom the other day but I seriously ignored her in the car for 15 minutes whining over an empty raisin box. I don't want to lose my cool, but the string is getting short.
I am sure it is a phase, but I don't even know where to begin to address this one. I know there is a lot of experience out there - so advice is definitely welcomed.
Thanks so much!

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So What Happened?

Thank you Thank you Thank you!
I appreciate all the advice. You gave me some great tips for dealing with the whining. I now immediately say "I think you are asking me something but I can't understand when you talk like that. Please use your words." And so far it is working pretty well. And I immediately thank her for using her nice voice. If she continues to whine, I will ask her to go to the whining corner(area) until she is finished.
I knew you would all have great ideas for me!

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answers from Portland on

When my daughter whines I tell her to use her normal voice. I don't respond to her request or need until she asks in her normal voice. If that doesn't work, I tell her that she can make a choice between talking normal like a big girl or she can go to bed until she's ready to talk like a big girl, with follow through. Most of the time (she's only 2) she's just tired and so a little quiet time helps. I'm finding more and more that most of her behavior issues arise when she's either hungry, tired, or bored. Good luck!



answers from Spokane on


The thing that worked at my house, because yes its a phase and it too shall pass, was cutting them off right away and saying "wait! no whining". If you try to do this as much as you can, as soon as you hear it, that helps to keep this phase hopefully short! I also noticed that if I brought it to their attention-that they are doing it,right now-when they werent really upset they seemed to get the grasp of how annoying it is! Some of my kids are older and out of this phase but if I do hear them whining I still tell them the same thing only I say it in my whining voice...its kinda funny and proves the point and we just move on!

Best wishes!

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answers from Seattle on

i have some great super nanny jo frost..ya i know..she has no kids..but she has alot of good points.

they sell them at target..or look online at other websites, my son is only 19 1/2 months..he whines because he cant use his full sentences yet... so i always try to say "use your words" tactic... a hug always works for a whiney/tired kid...and a

oh, we also went thru a screaming no im sorry it was "SHREIKING" at the tops of his lungs public too...when i would shower...and anytime he felt like it..i thought i was gonna go crazy..i just waited it good luck my friend! it too shall pass...lets hope!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

We tried all thoes tricks as well and nothing worked. I was about to snap as well then my hubby one day (just before he snapped) instead of yelling or asking our son to stop whining he sang. He sang "Lucas stop whining say more yogurt please" it was so out of the blue that my son totally stopped whining and just looked at him. and asked in a non whining voice "More yogurt please" and now when he starts the whining we in a sing-song voice say "Lucas stop shining say__________" It has worked like a charm and it helps relieve your stress as well give it shot!
Good Luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Well, you are doing a lot of the right things--she is just a strong willed child. And will probably drive you "crazy" a number of times. (sigh)

When she is whining, leave the room and if she follows, go to a room that you can shut the door and lock the door. As soon as you can no longer hear her, come out. Stay calm.

When she whines in the car, pull off the road or freeway exit and stop. Get out. Stay out until she quits whining. Stay calm.

If she whines at a store turn your back to her, and walk five steps away from her. Stay close enough to guard her but far enough to let her know that she can not whine at you. Stay calm.

The key to this is distance and staying calm. I know it is hard to stay calm. With my daughter I once went running into the bathroom and locked myself in. She banged on the door! I didn't come out until I was calm enough to be a good mother to her. Very hard.

Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

whining is hard! Good luck.

I think ignoring it is the right approach. If she keeps it up, tell her you don't want to listen to her and send her to her room where you don't have to hear her. Or leave the room.

I think it should be combined with lots of praise and positive responses when there is no whining.

One thing we have done, with some success, is to tell our daughter what the appropriate action is - 'I don't understand when you whine. Take a deep breath, and ask, without whining' - sometimes with a demonstration. We don't deal with whatever the issue is until she follows through.

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answers from Seattle on

Hi A.,

First, know that you're not a terrible mother for this at all! Being a mother, especially a SAHM who is "mothering" 24/7, is the hardest thing I've ever had to do by a million miles (though, of course, it's the most rewarding at times too). I thought I was the most patient person in the world until my oldest hit the 2½ - 3 yo stage. The whining drives me INSANE too. Every person has their limit and as a mom, especially of a toddler or teenager, it's a line that is constantly being danced on in one way or another. I think I have some sort of sensitivity to noise too, which makes it even worse. (I seem to lose it more with noise issues than any other kind, other than one of my kids injuring the other.)

Although it's a maddening stage, know that it is completely normal, and in a sense, a healthy stage. She is still trying to figure out the world around her and how to make it work for her. Of course, this also means that you need to teach her that whining is NOT the right answer, and help guide her to a better way of communicating her wants and needs.

I think what you're doing now is a good first step. It's crazy hard now, and I know it feels like it will never end, but if you stick with it, it will show results. I use kind of a two to three step program with my boys.
Step #1: Similar or in addition to what you're saying now, get down to her eye level, ask her to look at "mommy's eye's" and calmly say, "If you need something or want something, you need to use your big girl voice". The eye-to-eye conversation really helps them focus on what you're saying and it may also calm her down for a moment to listen. Then give an example of the RIGHT way to ask (when it is clear what they want), so you're showing her the right way instead of just ignoring the wrong way. Once she asks the right way, respond positively and quickly. Even if the answer is no, giving a positive response will make an impact. If you know the answer's going to be no in advance, you may want to preface it by saying "you may not get this still, but I will respond to you and we can talk about it." Or something along those lines.
Step #2: If the whining continues, explain that she will go in time-out (I like the whiny corner idea below too). Explain that she can go sit in her room (or wherever) until she wants to come out and talk to you in her big girl voice. (When she gets older, you may want to omit this step as she shouldn't need warnings anymore, but at this stage, I think a warning is helpful and fair for her mindset.)
Step #3: If she's still standing there whining, pick her up and put her in time out.

Personally, I don't think ignoring it is the best answer, although I completely understand getting to that point and admittedly have gotten there myself before. If you do the hard work right off the bat and get a pattern of communication, then positive reactions or consequences set, then you should be able to significantly cut back on the issue. (It will likely not completely go away for a few more years though.) Ignoring is only teaching your daughter to ignore her own problems (as you are her biggest example) instead of dealing with them, and is not addressing the problem at all. Just try keep in mind (somewhere in the little sanity you have left in these moments) that there's a much bigger picture at hand. As absolutely maddening as you feel sometimes (and as legitimate as it is), try to keep in mind that your daughter is learning how to deal with the things in her future directly from you. If you were to imagine a conversation with her when she gets a little older to try to help her handle something in her life that she doesn't like - what advice would you want to give her? Or think about what advice you would give a friend on how to deal with a problem they're having. What do you think is ideal? That's what you need to start teaching her by your own example now. This is the most critical learning stage for things like this.

Ok, I've babbled enough now.

I wish you all the best in whatever you decide to do! Good luck and know that it will get better!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I know that being a SAHM and being a parent is the toughest job in the world. It takes thinking on your feet all the time and observing and also being very aware of what is going on in your child and knowing how to react to create the place of nurturing and give the guidance that will help this child through an entire lifetime. Bruce Lipton in "The Biology of Belief" said that from conception to seven years of age, the brain waves are different than an adult. At this age, children are recording everything. When you said that you felt bad about ignoring your daughter for 15 minutes, which is not a long time, you let her know that whining causes a reaction. The first time she got her way from whining taught her that this brings results. If you look at this not as punishment but only teaching you do not ever have to feel guilty. When my stepdaughter was six, we would pick her and her sister up every other weekend. She did not like to take a bath or shower and would cry every time. I pretended not to hear her cry and took her gently by the hand and talked to her normally. I made sure the bath or shower went quickly and then when she stopped crying I praised her for being so clean and then sent out to her dad and sister (I put powder on her and she smelled really great and they also praised her that she looked and smelled so good). She only cried the first few times and since I did not make a big deal out of it and she would get her bath or shower anyway, she stopped and it was no trauma to her and she was over it very quickly. Another time I had asked her a question and she did not want to answer so she stopped talking and gave me the silent treatment, we needed to go shopping anyway so I took her gently by the hand and said we were going to the store. On the way there she asked if we could get some pears. I said nothing. She looked confused because I was acting like she had not said anything. After a few moments, she asked me again. Again I said nothing. Once we got to the store we met someone I knew and I introduced her and she said hi. The lady also had a son and he would not say hello. Right after I said that I was proud of her for being so polite and then asked her how it felt when I didn't speak to her in the car. She said it didn't feel good. I said it didn't feel good to me either when she wouldn't talk with me when I had asked her a question and that if she wanted me to talk with her, she would have to talk with me also. All of this was done in kindness and not in getting even or having an attitude but treating her with honor and respect. It would be her choice. Soon after she did it again and I just asked her if she did not want me to talk with her either and she immediately said no and talked with me again. Never again did that come up. It took a lot of patience, kindness and time for both of those times but there was no struggle or battle of wills. I talked gently and kindly to her always, had respect for her but asked that of her also. She needed guidance not judgement, she needed direction and not a lesson of how to manipulate or be manipulated, she needed to learn how to communicate in honesty and integrity. When your daughter starts to whine, remind her gently and speak in adult language not in third person, by saying "when you whine I will be ignoring you and when you ask for something nicely you may get it if I think it is the right time for you to have that. If you continue to whine, whatever you ask for will not be given--that will be an automatic no. Every time you whine, my answer will always be no". Then follow through and if it takes a day of whining or a week to learn this then it will be worth it because forever more this will not happen because she will have learned that this will only cause something she does not want. It will be her choice and she will learn very quickly. Be consistent and kind and teach the things that will serve her in her life. When she is whining, sing a song to yourself and think of other things. When she asks nicely praise her and if the answer is no then explain that this is not a good time and that if she could wait a few minutes then she can have that. If you practice this with just a few minutes at first and then making it longer, then you are teaching patience. If she knows something she does is irritating you then she gets what she wants you are teaching her how to manipulate. Both of you need respect, honesty and when you come from that place there is no reason for guilt. Once she knows how to pull your chain, she will be in charge and she does not have the skills at that age to run her life or yours. Hope this helps.

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answers from Portland on

The only thing that works with my three year old is bed. When he starts whining, I tell him his voice is tired and he needs to go lay down until his voice is rested. He can choose whether he is gone for 30 seconds or for a whole nap. When he comes out, I ask him if his voice is happy now. I tell him to show me. He beams a big fake smile to prove it, and that works wonders for changing his attitude. If the whining persists, I tell him his voice is still tired.

Because it is his voice and not him that is getting disciplined, he isn't defensive.

For my daughter, by about 4 1/2 year old, it changed to "go to your room until you can get a handle on your attitude". At 8 years old now, it still works. She feels free to go to her room and scream or cry, and ramble on to herself, then she comes out happy.

Either way, it is a great way to teach kids that they are in control of their attitudes and is a great practice for consciously choosing a better mood.

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answers from Medford on

My son is in the whining phase too! I HATE it!!! :)
I ask him to use big boy WORDS. Sometimes, I wine back at him and ask him if he can understand mommy...then talk about using big boy words so I know what he wants.
Your daughter may not understand what her "voice" is, but she should understand what "words" are...I think that showing them what wining sounds like is a big help too...its not easy though...hang in there!

Just thought of something else, after reading other responses. With my daughter, now 4 1/2, we keep special "new" toods (Attitudes) in our pockets for her. When she gets to be too winy or "mean" we tell her that she needs a new tood. She will wipe her cheek (wipe the bad attitude off) and exchange her bad tood for a new "good" one. This works wonders! you might try explaining to your daughter that her voice is winy or tired and that she needs a new one, then have her "give" you her winy voice and give her a new "big girl" voice! Worth the try! I am even going to try this on my son! :)

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answers from Anchorage on

The ignoring it option is usually the best, but it can try one's patience and turn the hair grey, sooo..a little coping strategy might be too have ear buds handy. I know in the car that's not possible, turn the radio up whatever you have to do to drown her out. Once she's at a dull roar in your ears simply move on around the whining. She'll soon learn life doesn't change just because you whine. And you might keep a shred of sanity at least :) Sing along to the radio even to help drown her out.



answers from Dallas on

For my 17 month old son, i use a "crying corner" which is the mat by the back door. When he is crying/whining for no reason, I tell him in a nice voice that "It's ok to cry, but you have to cry in the crying corner. When you are done crying, you can come back out and play" It works relatively well.
You can try a "whining corner". The only place she can whine is in the whining corner.

I REALLY identify with your frustration, my fuse gets so short too.



answers from Portland on

Oddly enough Emily is 3 as well and all I hear is this whining voice from her. I ask her kindly to repeat the sentence she has said. If it still sounds whiny, I ask again and then another time until it's less whiny then I clap and praise her up and down for her efforts and how great she sounds.

I explain that her tone of voice matters to others and good manners go far in this world.

As a first time older mom of two young daughters, I do tend to second guess myself.

I'm new at Mamasource and am thrilled to be here!!

I joined this group BECAUSE OF YOUR QUESTION! So, thank you A. for posting it!... I'm going to post mamasource on my own social network: DivaDarlings.NET which is a place for baby and bridal showers and hostesses. They can then naturally transition right on over to here!




answers from Seattle on

The only thing that worked for me--and it even works with my husband--is to say, "I'm sorry, I can't understand you when you whine. Could you speak in a normal voice please?"

My children both loved annoying me, but if they thought I couldn't understand what they were saying, they were going to rephrase it. Kids HATE thinking they are not understood (it's as frustrating for them as whining is for us), and now that my kids are a bit older (8 and 5) I need only say, "Use a nice voice, please," and they know the only way I'll listen is if they soften the tone.

It took a few weeks of persistence, but, honestly, the whining diminished immediately. Even better if the hubby does it when he gets home, too, so the behavior is reinforced. I've even had other moms over for play dates, and when one of our kids whines, we look at each other and ask, "Did you understand that?" and the other answers, "No, I don't understand whine, either." That way kids know the behavior is universally misunderstood.

Good luck!



answers from Seattle on

The thing that works for me is to give my son 2-3 choices in a calm voice. Thus, if he's whining because he doesn't want to stop playing I would calmly say "Would you like me to bring the bike up for you or would you like to ride the bike into the garage yourself?" I always say the choices very calmly and it seems to shut off the part of the brain that's causing the whining and calm him down and refocus his energy into making a choice. To apply it to the empty raisin box I would have said something calmly and matter of factly(as soon as the whining started) like "Please tell me what you want. Do you want me to take the empty raisin, change the music, or turn off the radio." If the whining continues I would ignore looking at her and just say "When you're ready, let me know if you would like me to change the music or turn off the radio." Then I would completely ignore the whining. For my son, I always think to include choices that he would definitely want to do (like bring his bike home himself) or choices that would be something he would want to avoid (like turning off the CD story in the car). But I never say the choices in a punishment like manner. I just say things matter of factly and then if he doesn't respond I will start to make the choice for him (e.g., Okay, I'll bring the bike home for you. I'll see you when I get home.) That always stops the whining instantly as he screams "Wait, I want to bring the bike home" and then he calms down, takes the bike and walks home. Our whining never lasts but a few seconds when we do this. On the other hand, if I just ignore him or tell him to "use his words" he can't calm down. Seems to me that kids this age just want to have control over their environment and often need their brains reset so they can calm down.



answers from Seattle on

My son is doing the SAME thing, just since he turned 3 two months ago. I think 3 is far worse than two. The only thing that has made any difference for my son is using time-outs. When I consistently put him in time-out EVERY time he starts whining, eventually he stops doing it so much. The car is a tough one though, but I think you are going about it correctly, ignoring her. I try to put myself somewhere else mentally when we are stuck in the car and the whining starts, or I turn the radio up until he is complaining about that and forgets to whine about the other.



answers from Portland on

My son will turn 3 next week and he too has started this whiny phase. We ask him if he needs to go to his bed and think about it. Usually he says "no" and changes his voice. If he doesn't change then we tell him to go sit on his bed until he is ready to talk like a big boy. That has worked for him.



answers from Seattle on

Keep ignoring! You could also try when she starts to whine act as if you can't hear her, saying something like "what? huh? wow I am so confused I just can't hear you right." then walk away mummbeling under your breath. This will eventually start to frustrate her and she will understand that everytime she whines she gets walked away from. It may take about about a week but have fun with it! I used this alot when I was a nanny and to this day with my 12 neices and nephews and mulitple freinds children.
I also must admit that I ignore my daughter when she is screaming in the back seat and won't stop. it is mostly beacuase she cannot get her socks off! (she is 10 months old) She will be fine and so will your daughter.
I hope this helps!

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