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That voice – it's like fingernails on a blackboard. Read how these our site parents have managed to banish whining, at least some of the time.
Help your child communicate
"When our 19-month-old daughter starts to whine, it is normally because she's frustrated about her inability to communicate. We ask her to stop whining and tell Mamma or Daddy. If that doesn't work, we ask her to show us. Usually she'll calm down, and then we can understand what she's trying to express."
"When my daughter (now 20 months) turned 1, we started teaching her sign language using the My Baby Can Talk DVD. It helped a lot. We're both less frustrated because she can communicate with us. She says some words, but if she can't say them yet, she makes the sign for them. Amazing."
"In my son's whining moments, I distract him by saying the ABCs or singing a song such as 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.'"
"The best response I've found: Ignore, ignore, ignore! When my 1-year-old whines, I turn my back. She soon learns she's not going to get a reaction when she whines."
"Consistency is the key. My 3-year-old has learned that if she whines, she won't get what she was whining about – period, ever. If she whines for milk or a cookie, she doesn't get it until she asks like a big girl. We're very fair with her, and if we say no about one thing, we'll say yes to something else. You can't have a house full of no's and definitely can't have a house full of yeses. Decide ahead of time what is no and what is yes and stick to it!"
Take an adult tack
"My daughter is 15 months old and loves to be talked to. She's also a constant whiner, but when she does that, I start talking to her as if she's a lot older than she is. She responds in such a positive way, actually trying to carry on a conversation with me – though only she knows what she's saying. The baby jibber-jabber beats the whining hands down!"
What's that you say?
"I have a 23-month-old. If I tell him I don't understand him when he whines, he'll either quit or go somewhere else. I praise him tons when he stops whining and speaks correctly. He's learned that not whining gets him more than whining ever would!"
"I respond in one of two ways when my daughter whines. Either, 'We don't whine or cry to get our way.' Or, 'Think of a better way to ask.' I usually use the first one if she is complaining because I said no (like no juice while I'm making dinner and you can have water instead). I use the second if she has not used a 'Please.'"
Promise future benefits
"We have a very hard time getting our 3-year-old out of bed in the morning without fussing, crying, and whining. My trick is to tell him at night that if he doesn't fuss in the morning, then I'll read more than one book to him the next night. For the past week, it's really been working! He reminds me every night that he didn't fuss that morning, and he picks out his books for me to read to him."
Set limits but give them some control, too
"At the store, I let each child pick out one thing he really wants, be it cereal, candy, or a magazine. For the older kids, I give them a value that they can spend – if they want something more expensive, the difference has to come out of their own pocket. This way when we get to the checkout and they ask for the candy bar that I don't want to buy them, I can say, 'You already got what you wanted.' Not only have I come home with three different types of cereal, I come home without a headache."
Designate a whining chair
"We have a whining chair for our 2 1/2-year-old. When she starts to whine, we tell her to please continue in the whining chair. By the time she gets up and moves there, she is distracted, and the whining usually stops."
Set the timer
"My 3-year-old is starting to respond to the same trick that works on my older girl (age 7): If she whines, I set the timer for three minutes (one minute for each year of age) and tell her to come back and ask again when the timer goes off. That usually works."
Record it for posterity
"My son, who's now 3 1/2, has always been a whiner, though in the last several months he's improved. I started getting the video camera out, and every time he started whining I would record him. This seemed to really irritate him, and he certainly didn't like watching himself later. I think the threat of the video camera coming out every time he whined stopped him from doing it. Thank goodness!"
Ask for the "nice voice"
"When my 4-year-old daughter starts to whine, I say, 'Uh-oh, your nice voice has disappeared! I wonder where it went!' I look around the room and pretend to find a nicer voice in a cupboard or behind the couch, and I pop it in my mouth and then imitate Grandma or a cartoon character or a rooster or whatever I can think of. Usually she starts to laugh, and the whining is forgotten."
Laugh it off
"When my son or my nephews start to whine, I imitate the sounds. Then I make funny faces, and eventually they're laughing at me and have forgotten what they were whining about. So far it has worked – even in public!"
"When my son, who's 5, starts whining, I tell him to whine into my pocket so I can save it and listen to it later. That makes him laugh, especially if I pretend to open up my pocket and then have to hold my ears when all the whining comes out!"