Two-Year-Olds Who Whine

So much time at home can be challenging for two-year-olds and their parents and caregivers. Here are some suggestions for how to encourage a two-year-old to use words instead of whining.

  1. Whining can be a signal that something is wrong. The child wants or needs something. When she is whining, calmly but firmly say, “Use words.”
  2. Say, ”I need you to tell me in your regular voice.” Be sure you use a regular voice yourself, so he knows what you mean by a regular voice.
  3. Wait for her to ask for what she needs or wants. Don’t guess at what she needs or wants in response to the whining.
  4. Listen to how other people in the family talk. If one of them whines, stop working on the two-year-old for awhile and work on the other family member.
  5. Remind him that he can think and tell you what he needs.
  6. As she begins to use words, have her point to what she means, and you repeat her words. The more words she learns, the less she will need to whine.
  7. Put a sticker on her shirt that says, “Words.” Touch the sticker and smile each time she does use words.
  8. Remember to notice when he does use words and respond to them.
  9. Keep a list on the refrigerator of the words she uses. Add to the list as she uses new words or her words become clearer. This will remind you that “this too will pass” as she learns more words.
  10. Help him learn more words that he can use instead of whining. One way to do that is to sing a lot, use rhymes, and pause so he can fill in the word you leave out.
Adapted from Help for Parents of Children 18 Months to 3 Years, Jean Illsley Clarke et al.



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