Find out how to stop your toddlers whining!
You have tried everything you know and you are losing your patience. The whining is starting to drive you insane. Been there, done that… not fun!
Last post we talked about why your 1-year-old is whining. And why you shouldn’t just say “Stop whining or crying.”
Check it out here: Why Your 1 Year Old Is Always Whining.
If you haven’t read it yet I suggest you do that first. So you’ll have a better understanding of “why” your toddler’s whining.
In this post, we are talking about:
- What to say instead of stop whining.
- If ignoring your whining toddler is a good idea.
- As well as what to do about the whining to make it stop with 5 actionable tips.
What To Say Instead Of Stop Whining?
Imagine how upsetting it would be if you kept trying to communicate your needs with the person who took care of you and that you loved so much, but they couldn’t understand you.
You get more and more frustrated because you are not being understood and it is bubbling up in your tone.
Then they get upset and yell at you to be quiet because of your attempts to try to be understood and heard. That hurts, especially when you are a toddler and are just learning life.
Granted sometimes kids mistake wants for needs but it feels the same to them.
I think as parents we tend to default to losing our patience very quickly with our whining toddlers, or at least I do.
Our voices get louder to show authority and we demand the child quit whining.
But like I mentioned, that doesn’t usually work and can be hurtful.
So what else can you say when you are frustrated and you just want the whining to stop.
You hopefully understand your young toddler probably can not talk.
As a 1-year-old they will try to communicate in ways such as gestures or babbling, maybe single words and pointing.
Your 1-year-old might still be communicating with gestures such as pointing at pictures or at something he or she wants. Gestures will get more elaborate over this year as toddlers use them to imitate actions, express themselves, and play.Mary L. Gavin, MD from kidshealth.org Communication and Your 1- to 2-Year-Old
Often at this stage, a 1-year-old understands more than they can communicate.
But you can encourage your child to communicate in these other ways besides whining.
7 Alternatives instead of saying “Stop Whining!”
These are phrases I found mom’s using from around the internet and some I use myself.
Even if your 1-year-old doesn’t fully understand what you are saying they see you are calm, trying to communicate and giving them a voice.
These phrases encourage them to communicate in other ways than whining. Or lets them know they will only be uncomfortable for a short time.
- “I can’t understand you when you whine”.
- “Mommy’s ears can’t hear anything whiny”
- “Show mama what you need.”
- “I know it’s not fun. We will do it quickly.” -Doing something your 1-year-old doesn’t like but needs to be done.
- “Mama is busy I will be with you in a minute.” –When busy doing something.
- “Can you say that without whining?”
- I can’t hear you when you talk like that.
- “I can see that you are upset. When you are ready to talk I am here to listen. But I can not understand what you are trying to tell me when you are upset.”
- “I want to hear what you are saying so please go away for a few minutes and come back and use a normal voice. ”
- “Try again, with a more pleasant voice.”
- “Tell me what the problem because I can’t understand you when your whining.”
I am sure there are more that can be added to this list and maybe better phrases to say. I have found that saying these things sit much better with my 1-year-old than just saying stop whining or totally ignoring them.
He usually stops whining a lot faster when he realizes I am listening and trying to understand him.
Is It Okay To Ignore Your Toddler And Let Them Whine If There Is Nothing Wrong?
There are definitely many opinions on whether ignoring your toddler is okay or not. Then again people have opinions most everything.
My answer is based on research I have done and my experience.
In general, I think its best you don’t ignore your 1-year-old as your default reaction. However, I will explain a certain circumstance where my toddler is whining and I would ignore them.
If I knew my child was plainly attention-seeking in this negative way or creating a power play, I would ignore my toddler only after using one of the above alternative phrases.
I would only ignore him until he stopped whining or when I finish what I needed to do and he has stopped whining. Then when he is no longer whining, I go over and give him my attention, what he wants if okay to do so, or play with him.
So though there is some discomfort for a little bit until he decided to stop whining I still validated his feelings by first responding before ignoring. I also didn’t reinforce the whining, by waiting until he stopped before I gave him my attention.
If I thought my toddler was extremely hungry, thirsty, overly tired, in pain that would be different. As calmly as I could I would give them what they need and not make a big deal about it.
They are started to get overloaded with those physical body signals.
What Is Ignoring?
Ignoring is not easy, as you probably know it is the opposite of paying attention.
- This means no negative attention either, such as saying “cut it out” or “stop it”.
- Instead, divert your attention away from your toddler and their whining.
- Make sure that when you’re ignoring your toddler you don’t talk to them or even look at them.
Ignoring can help stop behaviors that your 1 year old uses to get your attention. This includes whining for attention, interrupting and throwing tantrums.
The goal of ignoring is to reduce behaviors you do not like or you want your child to stop such as whining.
By giving your child attention during tantrums, you may accidentally reward the behavior and increase the chance it will happen again. When you ignore some misbehaviors, you can make it less likely your child will do the behavior again.By Centers of Disease Control Prevention- How to Use Ignoring
Just remember your toddler is not a good communicator yet, they don’t understand their feelings and much about the world.
All they know is they want or need something and whining and crying is a way to get it! Lol!
So to reiterate what we just learned about ignoring.
Respond to them with one of the phrases best suited for your young one, so they know their feelings matter, letting them know you hear them and will get to them, but then ignore when they are just attention seeking and continue to whine or have a tantrum for your attention. Give them attention when they settle down and stop whining.
If it is tiredness, hunger, thirst, pain calmy take care of there needs. The less reactive and calm you can be the less likely it will escalate.
5 Active Tips To Stop Toddlers Whining
A couple of tips here will be a reiteration of what was discussed above, so hopefully, it will really stick in your mind now.
Tip 1: Reward Your Child For Good Behavior
When your toddler stops whining and tries to ask nicely. Reward them with what they asked for, within reason.
Even if it’s pointing or jibber-jabber.
Use your discretion. If it is something they shouldn’t have then tell them no they can’t have it.
But, make sure you quickly praise them for asking so nicely make a big deal of their good behavior. Maybe give them something else they can have.
They will start to associate communicating nicely with positive experiences.
Tip 2: Be Consistent With Your Positive Go To Phrase.
This was mentioned earlier in the post. Phrases instead of saying “Stop whining.”
Pick a phrase that works for you and your toddler. Try different ones out and see what you like most. Then try to be consistent with it.
Something along the lines of, “Speak nicely and Mama will listen.” or “Let’s try that again.”
Tip 3: Ignore The Whining After Using Your Go-To Phrase
If your toddler persists whining after using the phrase calmly up to 3 times, ignore until whining stops.
Once whining has stopped and they try to communicate nicely or they go off and play.
Make sure you respond to them quickly so they can start to associate stopping whining with positive interaction and reward.
If the whining continues and it is not the norm, check out your toddler, take their temperature. Make sure they are not ill, gassy or teething.
Which in that case they are whining because they don’t feel well and are seeking comfort.
Tip 4: Prevent Whining Best You Can
There are three ways I know you can help prevent your toddler from getting whiny.
One is keeping them on schedules and routines.
Kids love routines. It feels safe for them. They know what’s coming.
I learned this first with horses but found it translates with kids as well.
So meal and sleep schedule, regular diaper checks, playtimes with mama, time outside to run around and burn energy.
Playtime with you, quality time, and connecting with your child is super important because you are giving them that attention they crave.
Whining is often attention-seeking.
These things will greatly reduce whining.
Another way is being really tuned into your toddler. Learn the signals your 1-year-old gives for getting hungry, tired, thirsty, bored, etc.
There are usually behaviors they begin before whining begins.
- You see your toddler pulling their ears and hair because they are getting tired. So you put them down early, before they are whining because they are tired.
- Your toddler is looking at you drinking water and mimicking drinking from the bottle. Get them their sippy cup before they are whining because they are thirsty.
The third way is to catch them when they haven’t whined and they asked or communicated nicely.
Say something like, “I love the way you asked Mama.” or “I love the way you showed me.” or “Good job using your words I love it!”
Tip 5: Be An Example For Your Children
Children even as young as 1-year-olds and younger, are learning all the time. One way they learn is through mimicry.
- If you are swearing they will start swearing.
- If you yell they will start to yell.
- If you hit they will start to hit.
- If they here you complain all the time they will complain in the form of whining.
These little eyes are watching us all the time and soaking in what we do. They want to be just like mommy and daddy.
They are sponges soaking up everything they see.
We need to be aware and careful about how we act. We need to be good examples for our children. And create a positive happy atmosphere they can flourish and grow in.
You won’t be perfect. You will make mistakes. But if you try and put in an effort to be a good example. It will do a lot more good for your little one than if you didn’t try at all.
They are affected by our attitudes and may not be able to put our feelings in words but they can see and sense how we feel and they can act out accordingly from it.
Putting This Into Action
You know what you can do now. Maybe you have read a few posts on the subject. But now it’s time to stop reading and do something about it. Here is a quick rehash of what we learned.
- Reward Toddler When They Stop Whining.
- Use Go-To Phrase Consistently With Whining.
- Ignore If Child Continues To Whine After Go-To Phrase Was Used 3 Times Unless You Suspect Illness, Pain, etc.
- Prevent Whining With Quality Time, Schedules, Awareness Of Signals.
- Be A Good Example For Your Kids!
Good luck with your chillins.
P.S. If you feel like you will lose your patience, put kids somewhere safe… crib if need be and go take a break and breather to calm down, and get back in your rational more patient mind.