I have a good one, what do you do about 16 month old always whining? Not crying because of pain, but just whining??? HELP ( she is always home with me)
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Katherine - posted on 04/12/2012
Why it happens
Kids are pragmatists. If your child is like most toddlers, he's learned that loud, cranky, increasingly higher-pitched demands for cookies while in the checkout line have the potential to produce a treat. It's not that your toddler is trying to be annoying — he's simply doing what brings results. In addition, your child may not know of a better way to ask. "Toddlers often don't know how else to express what they want," says Dr. Tina Gabby, assistant clinical professor of behavior and development at the University of California, San Francisco. "They get frustrated easily and start to whine." It's crucial to help your child learn more effective ways of expressing himself, because the better results he gets from whining, the more he'll see it as an effective way to rule his world.
What to do
Establish your definition of whining. Don't assume that your child knows what whining is and how awful it sounds. Identify whining when you hear it and ask your child to use his regular voice instead. If he has trouble hearing the difference, demonstrate it for him (without making fun of him).
Some experts suggest tape-recording your child, both in mid-whine and during normal conversation. When the two of you are in a good mood, play the tape and talk about it. Explain that whining sounds unpleasant and makes people stop listening. Practice "good" and "bad" voices together — hearing you at your whiniest will probably elicit a good laugh.
Acknowledge your child's need for attention. Children often resort to whining when they've tried and failed to get their parent's ear. Heather Itzla, mother of 2-year-old Ian, finds that her son whines only when she's not responding to what he's saying. "I bend down to his level and make eye contact with him," Itzla says. "Once he sees that I'm listening, I can get him to tell me what he wants without whining."
Whenever your child asks for something in a pleasant way, try to respond as immediately as you can. If you can't do what he wants right then, take a second to acknowledge his request, give him a ballpark estimate for when you'll get to it ("Honey, I know you need more juice. Hang on until I put down these groceries and I'll get it"), and follow through. When your child sees that other ways of voicing his needs produce better results, the whines will taper off.
Make sure the wait time is a realistic one: You can expect your toddler to be patient for as many minutes as he is old (three minutes if he's 3 years old). Try not to use the vague "later," unless you think he understands it. And remember to praise him for waiting when he manages to pull it off.
Show him a better way to address the problem. If your child can't get past the whining, try restating the issue for him. For instance, say, "I can see that you're upset. Is it because I can't take you to the park right now?" This will get a conversation going. Whether or not your child's demand is reasonable, it's important to let him know that he won't get what he wants if his way of asking is unacceptable. Say something like, "I can't understand you when you talk like that. Please use your normal voice and I'll be happy to listen to what you're saying." Don't get riled up, or you'll only feed the fire.
Some children respond better to visual cues. Try holding your hands over your ears and wincing in mock pain to signal that you hear whining (cup your ears and smile serenely when it stops).
Avoid triggers. Taking your hungry toddler grocery shopping before dinner and expecting him to understand that cookies will spoil his appetite is like putting a new trampoline in the kitchen and expecting him not to jump on it until the cake is done baking: It's a foolproof recipe for disaster. Feed him before you go, or pack some healthy snacks he can eat on the way or in the store. Likewise, life will be easier for both of you if you can avoid dragging him on errands — or even to the zoo, for that matter — when he's due for a nap.
Respond consistently. Don't put your foot down one minute and give in to whining the next. If your child tests you in that checkout line, work hard to keep your cool. The last thing you want him to figure out is that whining in public is an effective way to get what he wants. "It's like being at a Las Vegas slot machine," says veteran mom Lisa Levi. "Your child pulls the lever and pulls the lever again. One win — even after 12 losses — will show him that a slot machine is a good bet for making money, and that's not what you want him to learn."
Stay connected.You want your child to know that he can have your attention without whining for it. So be sure to carve out regular time to read a story together, do a puzzle, or just have fun — without his having to complain first. Touch him affectionately, give him plenty of hugs, and praise him when he behaves the way you want.
Try a diversion. Toddlers have few communication skills, so just about anything — not enough toys on the floor, too many kids in a room, or too much juice in the cup — can trigger whining. Sometimes your best bet is to be ready to step in with a redirect ("It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Super Mama") before the whining even starts.
Take it from other parents. Read what other moms and dads have discovered about how to stop kids' whining.
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