To stop a toddler whining, firstly play a new game called – Ignore the whining.
First, you have to explain the rules to your toddler in a fun way. Make sure they understand what whining is. Say something in a whiny voice, and then use your normal voice so they understand the difference. Get them to copy you first by whining and then using their normal voice. Then explain that if they say something in a whiny voice you won’t respond any more, but if they use their normal voice you’ll reply.

Practice a few times – so get your toddler to whine –and every time deliberately turn your head away and don’t reply – as soon as they talk normally again give them a big smile and say:
‘You remembered! You asked in your normal voice. Now I’m happy to do what you asked.’
From now on NEVER respond to whining. If they whine- turn your head slightly away and smile and respond nicely when they remember how to talk. If you don’t reply when they whine gradually they’ll stop.

Secondly, praise your toddler when they use their normal voice.
Help them see how pleased you are, and be very specific in what you liked…
‘I like it when you talk to me in your normal voice- I can hear you clearly and I want to reply.’
‘That was nice asking – you didn’t use your whiny voice – you spoke clearly and I could hear you properly.’

Finally, do an action replay if they whine.
Sometimes your toddler just won’t remember what to do. So you need to help them. Imagine Billy has come into the kitchen and said in a whiny voice ‘Mummeeeeee Juice!’ You say in a cheerful but firm way-
‘Ok, Billy we’re going to do an action replay. You go out of the kitchen and come in again – and this time, ask me the way you know you should’.
So you usher Billy out-go back in the kitchen, and hopefully, he’ll come back in again and say in a normal voice ‘Mummy juice please’ – and then you smile – give him the juice – and say:
‘You used your normal voice-and you said please-that was a nice way to ask. And now here’s your juice.’
If he doesn’t use his normal voice, do it again until he remembers. Or practice how to say it with him. Then get him to come in again.
The advantage of doing an action replay is that your toddler asks in his normal voice, and then gets what they want, which helps them remember how to ask the next time.

So to stop a toddler whining,

  1. Play a new game called – ‘Ignore the whining.’
  2. Praise your toddler when they use their normal voice,
  3. And do an action replay if they whine.

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child behavioural expert
The author:

Elizabeth O’Shea is a parenting specialist child behaviour expert and one of the leading parenting experts in the UK.

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