Avoid triggers: Taking your hungry toddlers grocery shopping
before dinner and expecting them to understand that cookies will spoil their appetite is like
putting a new trampoline in the kitchen and expecting them not to jump on it until the cake is done
baking: It’s a foolproof recipe for disaster. Feed them before you go, or pack some healthy snacks
they can eat on the way or in the store. Likewise, life will be easier for both you and your
children if you can avoid dragging them on errands — or even to the zoo, for that matter — when they
are due for a nap.
Respond consistently: Don’t put your foot down one minute and
give in to whining the next. If your children test you in that checkout line, work hard to keep your
cool. The last thing you want them to figure out is that whining in public is an effective way to
get what they want.
Stay connected: You want your children to know that they 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 them having to complain first. Touch them
affectionately, give them plenty of hugs, and praise them when they behave 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 Dad”) before the whining even starts.
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