What's Up With All This Whining?Emily Malone
Of all the many phases and stages that come with baby and toddler-hood, I think this one might be one that is wearing on me the most. Cullen is 18-months old now – desperate to communicate and assert himself and his needs, but still limited in language and the ability to string together sentences. The result? Whining. So much whining.
The thing is, I feel for him. I know that he is developing so quickly that it’s frustrating, and likely even confusing for his little mind. But he’s grown accustomed to vocalizing this through a very loud “eeeeeeeeeeeeehhhhh” that is driving me up the wall. He’s getting old enough now that he’s very capable of listening to and following directions, and his comprehension is developed enough to learn and retain a new skill or word every day.
This weekend, I started working on replacing the whining with specific asks. Some of the loudest and most persistent whining is food-related – usually at restaurants. And of course, in a public scenario, I’m more inclined to give him whatever it takes to quiet him so he doesn’t disturb other people. But in the privacy of home, we stretched out our Saturday morning breakfast in an effort to curb the whining.
With every groan and whine for more toast/strawberries/eggs, I stopped and asked Cullen, “Are you trying to tell me that you want more? You need to use your words. Please ask for MORE.” And after a few tries, it actually worked. He’d start with a whine, and I’d respond, “Would you like MORE?” to which he’d respond, “More!” Eventually, he just started saying, “more,” when he wanted more to eat. Ultimately, I’d like this to turn into “more, please!” but one step at a time.
One word and lesson at a time, we’re getting there. But man does the road feel long. The worst is when I DO know what he wants, but have no way (or desire) to provide it. He’s a persistent little guy, and he doesn’t like getting no for an answer. But we’ve reached an age and stage where I think it’s time to establish good boundaries and realistic expectations. Hopefully each new word brings a little less whining, and he starts to feel more comfortable in his communication with each passing day!