Whiney, Crying 4 Year Old Boy

Updated on October 16, 2010
A.H. asks from Birmingham, AL
8 answers

So, I am seriously asking this one behalf of someone. My friend seems at her wits end. He four year old whines all the time. If he does not get his way he cries. Only when he is with her. When he is with me or others, he asks for things nicely, when told no, he might say 'please', but he does not pitch the fits he pitches with her. It is making their time together unbearable. BTW, no divorce, no stressors, just a 'normal' family. My son went through a bit of a whiney phase when he was five. It lasted maybe 6 days. I just told him I cannot hear him when he whines and if he whined or screamed when we were in public, he did not get to watch TV or go play at his friends houses for a week each time. He lost two weeks of TV and playtime (which was really a punishment on me, LOL!) The hardest part was not paying attention to him when he whined, but it worked. He never did it again. I want to tell my friend this, but I have seen her with him and she just gives in to him all the time. "I want a popscicle, honey it is 10 minutes before dinner you can have one after dinner, I want a popscicle now! Sweetie, after dinner. I want a popscicle NOW! (repeat for 5 minutes...) Fine, you can have a popscicle...

How do I help her? How did you stop a whining child Thank you!

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So What Happened?

First, let me apologize for my choice of words. I am sorry. I should not have used that word and than you for pointing it out to me.

Second, I want to thank you all for reinforcing my thoughts. I just wanted to make sure I was not crazy!

Third, I did tell her how I handled it today...it did not go well. The opportunity was perfect. He was pitching a fit because he wanted a water cup without a lid and she would not give it to him...then she started to give it to him and looked at me and said, "I don't know what else to do." I asked her if she wanted help...she said yes so I took the cup poured it out and told him that if he would not accept the rules, he could not have the cup. He screamed at me that he hated me and ran to his room. I told that was how I did and would handle it, that I know how hard it is to do things like this, I told her the, "I don't hear you when you whine." Well after about 3 minutes of his screaming and crying in his room, throwing his toys, she said she could not do it...maybe she will be able to in the future. I hope so, because you all are right, he will be a lot worse when he is a teen if she does not take care of this now.

Thank you for your help!!!!

More Answers



answers from Salt Lake City on

You've hit it head on - it continues because she gives in. That's why he only does it with her; that's where it works. It will continue until she gains the determination to put her foot down and stick to it. Once she does, it will continue for a month or so (the longer the behavior has been permitted, the harder it will be to extinguish) and even get worse for a bit, but she has to stay consistant or it will come right back! And she doesn't want to let this behavior (basically maniuplating parents to get around the rules) continue much longer, because he's going to school soon and she needs to be able to get him up and ready on time, to do homework, etc. And definitely it has to stop before he's a teen (long time out, yet, and he won't be whining then, it'll be some other way of manipulating).

However, she will only be able to change this if she is WILLING to. The only thing you can do is offer her support and suggestions (if she's willing to listen). I would gently remind her that it is her RESPONSIBILITY as a mom to teach her son there are limits. Let her know you know what it's like - you've been there! - and that it gets much better afterwards. I would tell her there are times when she is going to have to just be "mean" - grounding or whatever, but again, she's got to do it, things will get better, and she'll enjoy being a mom much more when he learns that pushing her buttons will just put him in timeout. Be there for hugs and support and a listening ear, no matter what she decides. If she ends up saying "oh well, it's not a big deal, I don't care" don't lecture her (she knows it's not ok, but can't deal with it at the moment). If she wants help, offer your suggestions.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

From what you describe, the only way she can stop the whining demon is to do what YOU did and not give in. I think the only way you can support her is to be there for her while she's going through what what you went through with your son. He whines with her cause it works with her.



answers from Dallas on

LOL I so feel for her. My son did this too... actually he still does it , although in a different way, and he is almost 18. My daughter did too but not as bad. I so so wish I had a site like this when they were little. We were very isolated at the time. Maybe I would not have all the issues they have had.

I would just tell her in the nicest way you could. Yell her what you told us about your son?


answers from Ocala on

Please don't say demon when referring to a child.

She needs to put her foot down and say no and mean it.
She should take your advice about how you handled your son.

I wish you all happiness.



answers from New York on

You are talking about mt GF's son. He throws an absolute fit, whines, cries loses his mind and she gives in because she can't take it anymore. I've been a witness to it and it drives me bonkers. The last time this happened I was with her and I told her you already said no, now stick to it, we were in the car with our other kids as well and she kept saying no and her son went ballistic a few minutes later he seemed to be calming down and then he says to her "but you gave Tommy one before (candy)". She looks at me and says "you know he is right I did give tommy one before so he is actually right I am not being fair", I couldn't believe she switched to rationalizing it. I told her but that was 4 hrs ago this is 5 minutes before dinner tell him he can have it after. She said " how can I be fair and not give it to him now/" meanwhile the kid at this point was truly quiting down and she gave it to him. My GF is a lost cause. Why I am telling you this, is you can give your GF advice but if this kid is wearing her down and she won't realize he does it only to her becacause he knows he can get away with it, you are wasting your breath.



answers from Boston on

I'm going to repeat what everyone else said about having her follow your example of parenting. But I'm also going to repeat what Mommy asked and ask you to please not call him a whining demon. The problem is not him, it is his mother, your friend. I'm kind of surprised you would even post this question when you spell it all out yourself. It's pretty obvious to all of us what the problem is and it seems that it should be to you. And ever her. It's lazy parenting, that's all it is. It's hard work to do it right, we all know that. And she obviously does not want to deal with the coming tantrums when her son does not get his way so she just gives in. She has to be ready and willing to do the work if this is going to stop. And she better stop it now because dealing with the spoiled and entitled teen he will be in 10 years will be a lot more difficult than his whining is now.


answers from Williamsport on

I have a friend just like this. In my experience, nothing you tell her will stick. Your goal is to encourage her to be firm enough to ignore and take away stuff, and to be honest, even if she did these things (which she won't) Most likely, these wouldn't work on a child this age who is used to acting this way. Your son is EXTREMELY good natured for those tactics to have worked so quickly.

Our kids all took firm diligent enforcement for whining and tantrums from the first day the behaviors started and we never gave in.
Our 3rd is the toughest.

My friend is exactly like yours, gives in, ignores before giving in, her kid is a terrible whiner-mainly with her. We have told her and she has seen exactly how we nipped the whining, but she isn't the type to discipline. So her kid whines and ours don't.

Your friend isn't dumb, she knows what she needs to do. Go ahead and tell her, but it's not going to give her a back bone.

It's a drag, she has been our friend for 20 years, but now that they have this kid, we avoid them because of the terrible behavior. Our kids get super stressed around him and end up playing with each other while he throws fits on his own.



answers from Dallas on

Unless she follows through and is consistent, he will never stop. When my son whines, I say,"When your voice sounds like mine, I will listen." My son is just 3 and this works for him every time.

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