Losing your mind from your whiny toddler. Ever just think “Why is my toddler always whining? Do you wonder if your toddler is spoiled? Read on to find out why your toddler is whining!
My 1-year-old (14 months) has been in this phase the past month or so where he is whining, crying and throwing tantrums on a regular basis.
It has been driving me nuts. I feel this ball of anxiety knotting in my chest and my stomach and it makes me want to explode. I don’t think I am alone here.
I started doing research about why he is doing this. I heard of the terrible twos but we still have about 10 months to go.
I don’t like seeing my baby in distress and I wanted to find out the reasons a toddler would whine all the time in case something was wrong.
Plus I thought I would be more sympathetic and better able to keep my patience if I understood why.
In this post, you will find out what whining is exactly, why your 1-year-old is whining and why we shouldn’t just tell them to cut it out or stop whining.
What Is Whining Exactly?
Whining is a mild form of crying and can sometimes sound more annoying than crying. It is high pitch and you may compare the sound to nails on a chalkboard.
As soon as your baby is born the first form of communication is crying.
When we hear our baby cry or our toddler whine it triggers something inside of us. We feel stressed and urged to find out a way to make it stop.
God made us this way so that we would be signaled and motivated to care for our baby’s needs. We would try feeding, changing diaper, soothing, burping, trying to get them to fall asleep, give them cuddles.
This transfers to toddlerhood and whining.
If your baby never cried or your toddler never whined you wouldn’t be signaled that your baby or toddler needs something, whether quality time, physical touch, food, cleaning, reassurance or whatever.
Whining is the step between crying and language.Stephanie Brown From Very Well Family– How to Respond to a Whiny Baby or Toddler
Your toddler needs to learn there are other ways of communicating besides whining. Whining is a form of communication with frustration at the center. They resort to whining because they want to get there point across to you and are getting frustrated with the lack of understanding.
Why Your 1-Year-Old Toddler Is Whining?
Your 1-year-old is whining because they are frustrated and trying to be heard and understood. They see that whining gets your attention. Whether good or bad attention.
They are trying to get something across to you. Sometimes it’s something they need and sometimes it’s about something they want or don’t want.
Deciphering the whining 1-year-old.
If 1-year-old whiners could speak words:
- I am trying to tell you I need or want something.
- I feel lonely and want time with you.
- I am bored and have nothing to do.
- I don’t like it when you force me to do something I don’t want to do.
- You gave me the wrong one. I wanted that one.
- I am hungry, thirsty, tired, overwhelmed, angry and I don’t know how to handle these feelings.
- I am not hungry… thirsty.
- I hurt my hand and I am scared, sad and feel pain.
- That taste yucky. I don’t want it.
- I feel stressed out when you are upset, sad, fighting.
- There is too much going on, too many people, too much noise and I can’t handle the stimulation, I feel overloaded.
- I don’t want to do something new that is different and scary.
- I want to be with you I am afraid to be alone.
- I love you and want you to hold me.
- I feel sad that you are angry at me.
These are just some of the things young toddlers feel. I am sure there are many more phrases that could be added. Some irrational feelings too.
Keep in mind toddlers have no self-control or discipline with controlling how they react to their new big emotions.
This is something that we as parents need teach to teach our kids with patience. It is a balancing act teaching self-control and discipline while also building self-esteem and confidence.
Why We Shouldn’t Say “Stop Whining”?
More times than not yelling at your toddler to stop whining is not going to work. I actually noticed when raising my voice to tell my toddler to stop whining he usually starts to cry pretty hard.
As our babies grow into the toddler stage, I noticed we as parents have a propensity to make our lives as easy as possible and not really empathize or put ourselves in our kid’s shoes.
We see what’s rational from our perspective. But the reality and perspective in our kid’s eyes are totally different. We see no reason for them to whine and want them to zip it.
But the toddler sees no option because they feel like we aren’t understanding them.
Like it was mentioned in the quote above from Very Well Family, whining is the next stage in the communication ladder. Your toddler’s overwhelming feelings are being expressed through their crying and whining. Or maybe they feel that’s the only way they can get something.
When we say “stop crying”, we show our children that their feelings – no matter how intense (and if they are this young, feelings are always intense) – are unimportant.Jade From Live A Blissful Life- Soothe Your Child Quickly: What To Say Instead Of Stop Crying
Looking at this quote From Live a Blissful Life, I believe it applies to our toddlers whining as well crying.
If we as parents habitually tell our toddlers to stop whining and also crying and regularly just ignore them.
They will start to feel like we don’t care how they feel. If things don’t change. They end up developing lower self-worth, self-esteem, low confidence.
They may become a shy or introverted type of person.
They will be prone to internalizing their feelings setting them up for depression and anxiety. They will have some trouble making close relationships and being open emotionally.
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.
Then they get upset and yell at you to be quiet because of your attempts to try to be heard and get them to understand what it is you need. That hurts.
Granted sometimes kids mistake wants for needs but it feels the same to them.
I think we as parents have a default when losing our patience toward our whining toddlers, or at least I do. We raise our voice and essentially demand our child to stop 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. Understand your young toddler probably can not talk, as a 1-year-old but they can try to communicate in ways other than whining, gestures or babbling, single words if they are at that point.
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
7 Alternatives instead of saying “Stop Whining!”
These are phrases I found mom’s using from around the internet. Some may be for when they are older toddlers. But it doesn’t hurt to start using them now, just expect gestures over actual words and that they will need time and patience to understand what it means. And then some phrases I use and made up myself.
- “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.
Four Takeaways To Remember
- Whining is communication with frustration at the center.
- Your 1-year-old is trying to communicate despite lack of actual words, to be heard and understood.
- Don’t tell them to stop whining, this causes them to feel like their feelings don’t matter.
- Say a more positive response that shows them you are willing to give your time or try to listen and try to understand. Validating there worth and feelings.
My next upcoming post will be what to do when your 1-year-old whines.
I Would Love To Hear About Your Experience!
What time of day do you find your toddler whines the most?
What does your toddler whine most about?
What has worked for you getting your toddler to stop whining?