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 children ask for something in a pleasant way, try to respond as immediately as you can. If you can’t do what they want right then, take a second to acknowledge their request, give them 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 children see that other ways of voicing their needs produce better results, the whines will taper off.
But make sure the wait time is a realistic one: You can expect your toddlers to be patient for as many minutes as they are old (three minutes if your child is 3 years old). Try not to use the vague “later,” unless you think they understand it. And remember to praise them for waiting when they manage to pull it off.