What to Do When My 2 Yr Old Whines

Updated on October 24, 2008
S.H. asks from Ridgecrest, CA
25 answers

My daughter is 2yrs and 3mos. Everytime she doesn't get her way she whines. She wants to watch Dora and if you don't let her or get it setup fast enough she whines. She wants a snack and doesn't get it or if she is she still whines because it's either what she doesn't want or you didn't get up like you were going to give it to her. This actually just started recently. I am guessing in the last two wks. this has been going on. I do not know what to do. I have talked calm to her and said if you are going to whine then mommy isn't going to give you anything. I have ignored her and that doesn' work. If you can help with some advise I would really appreciate it.

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So What Happened?

I want to thank all of you for your advise. It really come in handy. I am still working on her to stop her whining but she is doing better. I have started sending her to her room when she starts to whine,I also talk calmly to her saying "if you don't stop whining mommy will not fix your apple juice" that has helped. I did something like that last night and she says "OK Mommy" it was so cute but she stopped whining. I think things will work out for the best and those of you who mentioned the books, Thank you. I will look into those as well. I know a friend now that has the 123 book and she is using it with her son. So, Thanks to you all and have a GREAT DAY.

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K.M.

answers from Richmond on

S., I think you will find the book 1,2,3 Magic helpful if you have time to read. It's about 200 pgs but it's an amazing and helpful book on disapline. It gives suggestions on what to do in certain cases. It talks about whinning. It has great reviwes and I know a lot of people who read it, used it and it helped them. Especially when they all thought there child couldn't be helped.

~K.

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H.D.

answers from Washington DC on

Ah the whining! My least favorite part of parenting.

From day one of my children's whining, I always told them I couldn't understand them when they whined and talked at the same time. It didn't take that long for them to completely shut off the whining while badgering me for something. Also, they both stopped whining a long time before other kids did.

They're still very good at badgering me though.

Good luck!

H.

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K.M.

answers from Washington DC on

I don't really have any advice, sorry. Just thought I'd let you know you're not the only one. My daughter is 2 yr and 4 months and has started the same thing, I hate the whining, so hopefully it is just a phase and they will grow out of it soon :) Good luck and if I find a magic answer I'll share it.

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S.K.

answers from Washington DC on

This, too, shall pass - but only if you take the excellent advice you've gotten here. Nip it in the bud now and keep nipping it. The threes and fours can be bad too, so prepare yourself and your kid.

It's very simple, when she whines she loses what she's whining about. If you're not doing it fast enough, she doesn't get what she was whining about.

You're mom, you know what she wants, you have to pretend you're a stranger and you have to understand what she's saying. My kid has be calm too, or at least trying hard to be.

This is ongoing, they're kids. Keep going!

-S. K

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B.H.

answers from Norfolk on

There's a book out there called "The Happiest Toddler on the Block" that is really, really helpful with whining and tantrums. There is actually a DVD of it that I like better, because then you can see what the advice is in practice, instead of reading and trying to interpret. It's by Dr. Harvey Karp, and it really, really helps. I can't say that enough. :)

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K.H.

answers from Dover on

It is a phase, just keep doing what you are doing...it will pass. Whatever you do, don't "baby" her for the behavior. She does need to understand that the whining will not help situations, and will not get her what she wants. My 3 year old does this on and off ALL the time. It does drive me crazy. I just tell her I am not going to get her the snack until she gets control of herself and stops the whining, or if it is a movie/show...she doesn't get to watch it if she whines. Things like that. I am guessing that if it just started....it will enhance! Good luck!!
K.

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L.A.

answers from Richmond on

Hey S., I haven't read any of the other responses, but I started telling my two year old daughter that if she was going to fuss, she could go to her room and fuss, but she has to stop fussing in order to come out. She doesn't like to be by herself too long, and stops fussing very quickly. Results have been great!

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J.M.

answers from Washington DC on

Whenever our 3 year old starts whining we always say that we can't hear him when he talks like that and he'll immediately start talking in a normal voice. Just something else to try if you haven't already. You aren't alone in the whining department though!

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A.F.

answers from Washington DC on

We had a whiner too. We had to keep telling her "No fussing!" Eventually she figured out that whining would not produce the results she wanted. Be consistent. It takes time to break this annoying habit. Af

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M.L.

answers from Chicago on

YOu have to stick to your guns... if she whines, she doesn't get what she wants. It may take a while, but children are much more intellignet than we give them credit for.

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A.T.

answers from Norfolk on

What I do with my 2 year old little guy, is when he whines (and refuses to stop when I ask him to) I put him in his room. I come back after a couple minutes, and get him out. His room is safe, and it gives him a negative consequence for his negative action. So, when I ask him "Do you want to go to your room," when he is bad, his reply is of course no and the whining stops. Whatever you choose to do, she has to have a negative consequence for her actions: a naughty chair, time out, etc. etc. Otherwise, it will continue. "Talking" to her about it is not a reprecussion. She will just learn to completely ignore you.

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J.S.

answers from Washington DC on

My son is 2 years and 4 months old. When he first started whining I would correct him and SHOW him how he should ask for something and then have him repeat it.

After a while (once he knew the ropes) I stopped correcting him and would ask him, "I'm sorry...how do you ask for something you want?" - or I'd say, "Mommy doesn't respond to whining. You need to use your big boy voice".

Now he's at the point where he will correct himself, once we remind him that whining isn't acceptable.

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E.S.

answers from Richmond on

S.,
I have a 3 yr old that is the same way! I put him in a spot away from me and let him it is the whining spot and he can sit there as long are he wants to whine but if he get sout fo the spots he must be done whining! I have also used the whine back at him techinque, sometimes this works and sometimes it does not. Good luck, i think ther is nothing more annoying a child whining, it drives me nuts!

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C.C.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi S.. My name is C. and I have a son who is 3 years old. My husband and I went through this not too long ago with our son and every so often now. What worked best for myself was telling our son "Mommy with be there in a minute. Please go play with your toys." If he persisted I calmly explained to him that whining, screaming and crying was only going to delay mommy's reaction. If he got louder I would tell him "let mommmy know when you're done crying so I can get.." and I would go back to doing whatever it was I was doing i.e. laundry, dishes.. It's a little difficult at first but over time, the whining will lessen and your child will become more patient. I hope this helps you out!

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A.L.

answers from Washington DC on

I know I'm liable to get called a horrible mother on this one but it DOES work and it teaches the relationship between actions and consequences. My daughter is a week shy of 18 mos. and when she whines my husband or I will say "Are you whining? Do you need a spanking?" and if she continues to do it, she gets a swat on her (diapered) butt. Even though I KNOW it doesn't hurt her, it works. She knows how to ask for things, and knows how to say please, and even though it takes some reminding sometimes, she will stop the whining and ask for things by name (or sign). She has also learned the meaning of the word 'wait,' and sometimes I'll just tell her to 'wait' if it's a matter of fixing food, getting her a drink, etc.

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A.J.

answers from Washington DC on

We have a whiner/screamer in our house who is now 2 years old. She has whined and screamed for a very long time and now that she is older we deal with it using a LOT of calm instruction. We say 'I can't understand you when you whine like that' or have her take a break in a quiet spot and say 'when you're all done crying/whining/screaming you can come tell me and then use your big girl words'. We also remind her to 'ask', which typically changes the whining tone to a 'please' (with lots of coaching, of course). This worked wonders with her less-strong-willed older sister, who is 3.5 years old. They key is to keep your cool when reminding (for the 100th time!). It is hard to do so, but it helps diffuse the situation when you don't give in to the toddler hysteria :)

My opinion on this age is that they understand more than they can express which is frustrating to them, so they need practical help and explanation on how to behave appropriately. For example, literally giving her a sentence and the appropriate voice to use when she is whining for her show - 'You can say, Please, Mommy will you fix Dora for me?' and then praise, praise, praise her for doing it. If she doesn't do it, have her sit in a quiet spot until she's ready to comply. I don't believe that a bad attitude at this age is worthy of any kind of punishment but rather constructive teaching (aka discipline!). It's just their natural instinct to whine or demand their desires and that needs loving instruction, just like not throwing food at meal time or how to share. In our family, giving our kids the words they need to express themselves in a constructive way has done a world of good! After all, toddlers generally love to please their parents :)

The twos are certainly a rough time, but the sweet moments are SO sweet! Hang in there!

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K.H.

answers from Washington DC on

We have 2.5 yo twins and the whining was really extreme!
We do two things:
1. I ask them what they want, and if they can say it in a nicer way- Then I tell them to repeat the way mommy says it- "May I please have (my water) mommy?" and I say it in an exaggerated NICE way- When they repeat it this way- they get the (water or whatever) right away- (this works only if it's something I am willing to give them of course!!) They HAVE to use a NICE voice, NOT the high squeeky whiny voice. Sometimes we call using our Low Voice.
2. we have a time out for whining- If it's a situation where I cannot give them what they are whining for (like dinner because I'm still making it for instance) they get a 1,2,3 warning then a time out if I get to three. The first week of that was pretty hard, and I ended up taking a bunch of time to administer the time outs, but they know I'm serious now, and now I rarely get to 2. They've gotten much better at just finding something else to do.(or they just sit down with a big frown right there- but at least they are Quiet!!)

Good luck!! :) - Whatever method you choose, just be consistent. Always. You can't let it slide one day just because it's inconvenient, because they'll use that the next time and push even harder. YIKES!

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A.P.

answers from Norfolk on

Dear S.,

This is the best parenting advice I have ever received. My family practitioner, who is also a mother, told be the best way to handle my three year old daughter when she started whining. I never thought I'd use it, because at the time she wasn't whining. A month later I had to start using this tactic.

When your daughter, son, husband, etc whines, just say to them "I can't hear you." If they try shouting, or continue whining, keep saying that. You can add, "Please find a nicer way to ask for what you want." All I can say is that saying this when my daughter whined worked like a charm, and she isn't a whiner now. It was difficult to say at first, beut it got easier with practice. Also, try "when/then." When you stop whining (or pick up your toys, etct), then you can have a snack.

If she throws a tantrum, put her some place safe, but not fun. The laundry room or bathroom can work. It is very important to ignore her. My daughter threw about four tantrums and I studiously ignored her once I was sure she was safe (unlike my parents who believed in shaking and spanking). Her tantrums usually lasted about 90 seconds if I did that.

All children are attention sponges. You could give her 200% of your attention, and it still won't be enough. The whining is about attention (even if it's bad) and control. Take care of it now, or she'll be like the whiney 9 year old I heard last week.

Good luck!

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S.W.

answers from Norfolk on

Hi S.,

Sorry you are going through this, what a pain, I hate whining ;) You have to make sure it is not successful for her, so she NEVER gets what she whines for. Also, she must have picked it up from someone, TV or someone she comes in contact with. If you can figure out where she got it from you can also limit that source. In the meantime check out www.askdrsears.com. Sometimes my 7 year old whines, I just calmly ask him 'does whinning work, get you want you want?' He says no and we go on about life.
Good luck!
S.

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J.L.

answers from Washington DC on

Hi S.,

I have a 3 1/2 yr old son who still whines from time to time. I've found the most effective thing to do is teach him to ask nicely. At 2 it's hard for your daughter to understand everything and have patience. So for me, if my son starts whining, I will tell him, "what is the nice way to ask"? Then he will use his good manners (please and thank you) and I will get him what he asks for. If he is whining for something that really is a "no" and I won't give it to him, I just explain why. Like "no we don't eat candy/ cookies for breakfast, that is a treat for after dinner time." "We aren't buying toys today, remember you got a truck last week"

Anyway, I hope this helps.

J. L.

S.T.

answers from Washington DC on

it's an age thing, for sure (but that doesn't mean you have to go along with it.) i've found that telling a kid what NOT do (ie 'don't whine' or 'i won't give you anything' doesn't work. they seem to take the negative qualifier out of their consciousness. try telling her what to DO (ie positive statements, no 'nots' in 'em). 'use your big girl voice, please.' 'i only listen to big girl voices.' then back it up by only complying when the whine is absent. and remember to praise her when she does make a request without a whine.
khairete
S.

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B.A.

answers from Norfolk on

Based on whatever standing rules you have (ours explained below) I explain how I handle my children’s whining. Standing house rules are important and even toddlers can understand and remember – but need reminding. Stick to the rules in your home, whatever they might be. Also, always remain calm. You want your children to exhibit that behavior, so be their role model. When she is whining and there are rules about whining, remind her “Remember what happens… Yes Maam, Put on Ignore, and then Regroup Time”. Once they get it then only remind them of one or two steps. LOL… sometimes they will remind you of the missing steps…LOL!

In our house, the rule is that two full cups is the maximum number of sweet drinks any child can have a day and others drinks must be water or milk. (For us, there is a history of diabetes.) Juice is laden with calories from sugar and may causes diarrhea. Soda eats away the enamel of childrens' teeth if they drink it often, no matter if it is caffeine or sugar free.

Say, she wants Kool-Aid yet has already had 2 cups so far and is whining for more. At her age, I believe it appropriate to say to her, “Whining will not get you what you want. Say ’Yes maam.’ You know the rules.” Later I explain that the world does not work that way. After you go through the progression, less and less steps will be taken. The “Yes maam or Yes sir” usually works immediately once the cycles are worked through a few times. If she does not say it (if she hasn’t done this before, have her practice saying the words with you). Then that might be just the thing to get her mind off of whatever it is and you and her can talk about other choices.

If not, tell her, “If you are not able to say ‘Yes maam’, you know what is next. (Never offer her what she is whining for -that reinforces her negative behavior). Next, you’ll be put on ignore.”

If it continues, announce, “YOU ARE ON ‘IGNORE’ NOW,” and stick to it! That lasts for about two minutes. If she continues, then I simply inform her that the next step is that she will be ignored until she regains composure and if she continues then she will be asked to go to her room to relax and to regain composure.

If she continues to whine or throws a tantrum, repeat the rules ONCE and if she does not stop immediately, then I say, “TO YOUR ROOM TO REGROUP,” and immediately send her to the comfort and safety of her room to calm down and regain control of her emotions.

If my children, either going to their room or when in the room, are being loud and disruptive to get attention, I say, “PUT YOUR FACE IN YOUR PILLOW”. Beforehand, the first few times, I advise them to put their face into a pillow because their negative behavior is not tolerated and should not disrupt the lives of other family members. Sometimes, I hand them their pillow. At this point, since my kids know what is coming and they will not elicit a response from me or other family members, they usually calm down within seconds and accept the situation.

Drink situations usually does not create going through all these different levels of discipline. However, I wanted to share with you the progression I use for most disputes. As this is used, there are usually only one or two steps used. Nevertheless, for the first month or so, it might be all the steps. Also, expect some tantrums to be thrown. Be patient. Realize it is normal. Let them work through it. However, what is key and something that is not often shared by pediatricians, is that children should not be allowed to disrupt the home. This lesson is essential, one that is not taught enough in today’s society. Crying into a pillow teaches them just that – not have their feelings burden others around them. Certainly, if consoling is needed (such as if they hurt themselves or are sad because their friend is unable to play with them), being warm and comforting children is necessary. However, when it comes to selfish whining and crying… well, that is a different story.

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N.R.

answers from Richmond on

Hi S.! I am going through the same thing with my 2yr and 8mths old son. I believe it is pre-programmed in them! Arrrggghhh! He is our 3rd son and I remember quite well that this is exactly what his brothers did around this age also.

My approach is reality discipline. You whine, you go to your room. And once you give them a choice, you have to stick to what you say. So if you tell her she's not going to get anything when she whines, then don't give her anything until she stops and says she's sorry then asks without the whine. I use lots of praise when he does it without the whine and I work hard all day to try to avoid situations where he seems to get more whinny. Like when he's tired or hungry. It only takes him going to his room a time or two a day for the rest of the day to be whine-free.

If you find something else that works, let us all know, okay? Great job MOM! Keep up the good work!

Take Care,
N. :) SAHM homeschooling 3 boys 12, 8 & 2 yrs old and married to my Mr. Wonderful for almost 15 yrs. I love to help other moms, who want to become SAHMs, reach that goal. Email me directly anytime at [email protected]____.com deserve to have a great life! (This is not a service.)

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K.F.

answers from Washington DC on

I think you have the right idea in telling her she won't get something if she whines. I know it's her age, and all 2 year olds start whining as their method of getting what they want, but don't give in! Be consistent; it just takes time for them to learn that they won't get things that way (afterall, they are new humans!). If you give in sometimes, and not other times, she won't know when whining will work and when it won't, so she will continue doing it; you just have to be strong! I thought my kids would never start acting right when I first started raising them (full-time step-mom), but it took about 3 months for them to adjust to my rules, etc and now they are great. They know what I say goes and that whining and crying will get them no where - and we had all out temper tantrums at times! I was very frustrated at first, but you can remind yourself that 2 years old won't last forever, so enjoy the good aspects and in the meantime, stand your ground and things will improve with consistency, love, and patience. :)

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T.G.

answers from Washington DC on

My munchkin is also 2yr 3 months - when we had the whining thing happening, I told him to talk like a big boy and then showed him how to say it differently. I'd say "Talk like a big boy if you want mama to listen. Say it like this "Tigger please? (that is our household's obsession right now)" in an upbeat, excited tone and make it fun to say it that way.
We also had a whiny NO problem - every time we asked him something the answer was a stern No. So we started playing the fun yes game - I would say "It's amazing, it's fantastic, it's wonderful" and make it fun - he then repeated it and he uses the words out of no where. We still get regular Nos but he does respond faster with the upbeat silly responses I give him instead.
It may work, it can't hurt.
Good luck!

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