Parenting Now!

Worried About Whining? Teaching Clear Communication To Your Toddler

This week, the Triple P Team explores toddler whining and how to help teach kids a better way to communicate. 

At some point, your infant’s reasonable cries for help—whether it be for food, warmth, or snuggles—will turn into requests for everything from cookies (right now!) to red socks (not the blue ones!). Some of it will seem unreasonable (to you at least), and you may be met with a lot of whining.

A toddler’s “big” feelings can sometimes get in the way of allowing them to clearly communicate what they need, or understand reason (for example, why they can’t eat 10 cookies for dinner). As a parent, it’s our job to teach them the skills and tools they need communicate more effectively.

Whining Woes

Most people are fully aware about what whining is, but there are reasons for it! Whining is generally described as complaining (or a milder form of crying) that’s done in a drawn-out, irritating tone. It can be more frequent when a toddler is hungry, sick, or overtired. There are other reasons that children whine. Young toddlers, who have limited speech, can get frustrated when they can’t say the words they want to. As their vocabulary grows, this type of whining should lessen.

Toddlers also whine to get our attention (stop doing the dishes!) or to get something they want (a race car from the toy store). How you choose to respond to whining has an impact on how often it happens and how intense it gets. If you want to lessen whining (and help your child communicate better), here are some strategies for managing whining.


This article is brought to you by Parenting Now! Parenting Educators and authors Amanda Bedortha, Claire Davis and Lynne Swartz and consultant Jay Thompson ( 

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