How to discourage whining in my 3 year old.?

At first I was not very concerned and thought of it as a phase. But whining has been with us for a while. I tried various methods: always asked him to "use his regular voice" or "use words" Also, at a suggestion of a friend I would tell my son that if he does not stop whining I will have to leave room. That does not works since it is not always possible to leave room for numerous reasons.

asked 22 Oct '09, 00:41

Gosia's gravatar image

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edited 24 Oct '09, 01:48

What I always did, and which worked like a charm, is I would repeat, "I'm sorry, I don't understand you. Try a different way." until they used a normal, talking tone. Once they did, I would reward them with my understanding and acknowledgment.

Given how frustrated toddlers are when they can't get their point across, it stands to reason that if parents play on that frustration by feigning ignorance ("Mommy doesn't understand you when you talk like that") they will quickly seek relief, which can only come from speaking normally.

Good luck!


answered 22 Oct '09, 00:47

YMCbuzz's gravatar image

accept rate: 12%

+1 for: This worked for me (us)

(22 Oct '09, 05:00) Idstam

I really agree with the use of "I'm sorry but I don't understand ....."

(22 Oct '09, 07:22) Emi

+1 Couldn't have said it better myself. Same thing goes for tantrums, etc.

(25 Oct '09, 03:28) KPW

As YMCbuzz said: We too simply refuse to acknowledge whining as a form of meaningful communication. At first it makes them mad enough to spit fire but if you apply this consistently they eventually come around.

Doing it consistently is really hard. Sometimes you just don't feel like fighting it and you just want to do anything to make the annoying whining stop. Also, sometimes you really feel like yelling, "Stop whining!" but that's not constructive either. But if you can pull it off, the long-term effects are worth it.


answered 22 Oct '09, 02:23

Dinah's gravatar image

accept rate: 15%

I'd couple the method of encouraging a normal voice while ignoring a whining voice with really praising your son and letting him know how much you like and appreciate those times when he does use a normal voice of his own accord. That way he knows what mommy likes and what gets results. He gets positive attention for positive behavior while only getting a bored, broken record for whining, "I'm sorry, I don't understand you. Try a different way. (to use YMCbuzz's words)."


answered 22 Oct '09, 04:16

Tanisha's gravatar image

accept rate: 15%

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Asked: 22 Oct '09, 00:41

Seen: 2,800 times

Last updated: 24 Oct '09, 01:48