How to Teach your Toddler to Quit Whining: Ask Away Thursday

Children must be born with the innate knowledge that whining works and makes us crazy. Teach your toddler to quit whining!

Reader Question: How do I teach my toddler to quit whining?

Ugh, I get it! Whining just exasperates me! Children must be born with the ability to whine and the innate knowledge that it grates on mommy nerves.

My mother-in-law jokingly suggested giving them everything they want.

I know for a fact that was not her strategy with her children or mine. She is a bit more old school and tends to just tell them to knock it off, which can be fairly effective from Grandma, but not so much from mom.

But this is an age old problem. And I’m sure my solution isn’t new, but it’s what works in my house, when I use it, which is the real trick!

My strategy is to refuse to answer.

My daughter will walk into the room, “MooOOm, I want . . . “

Sweetie, mommy can’t hear whine. Are you saying something?

I keep repeating this until she quits whining and asks nicely.

The real trick is keeping consistent. Whining is one of those things that really pushes my buttons, but I’ve had to learn to set my emotions aside, and respond to her behavior.

If telling her I can’t hear her doesn’t work, I then say, “you’ll never get what you want when you whine” and model the correct attitude and tone.

I will literally repeat the correct tone and wording over and over until she repeats it my way.

Then I’ll praise her. “Good job! Now you may have . . . .”

Again, the real trick is being consistent. I was reminded of that lesson a couple of weeks ago. Read about it here. Children must be born with the innate knowledge that whining works and makes us crazy. Teach your toddler to quit whining!

Children whine because it works. Pay attention to your and your spouse’s reaction to it. You’ll be amazed at how many times you’re accidentally encouraging it.

I know we were just getting cleaned up for the day and she started whining about it. It becomes something we as moms tune out, and let it go on much longer than we think.

I had to stop trying to debate her attitude and just quash it, nope, no whining. You can choose to quit whining or we discipline. Quit whining, she sighed.

I know sometimes we get tired, worn down and we give in because in the moment it is easier, but all it takes is one moment of weakness to teach your toddler that whining works.

An ounce of painful prevention in being consistent in ignoring the whining is worth a pound of curing discipline.

An ounce of consistent prevention is worth a pound of painful curing discipline. Click To Tweet

Teaching my daughter to quit whining is still (almost 6 years old) an exercise in my personal discipline, being consistent and not negotiating with this tiny terrorist who shares my home. 😉

I need pick a strategy, work as a team with my husband, and we see the attitudes and behaviors dramatically improve.

You can do it! Choose the strategy that works for you and stick with it.

Read the other great answers from our Ask Away Thursday Tribe here.

Check out this week's installment of Ask Away Thursday - one question, LOTS of answers!

 A couple of Thursdays a month, we’ll take a reader question and each answer it from our unique perspectives.
One question - multiple perspectives. Email your questions to momstribeadvice@gmail.com… Click To Tweet

Crystal Mendez from Love More Live Blessed shares recipes, budgeting tips, crafts and fun kid stuff on her blog. She never knew blogging could be so much fun! Love More Live Blessed – Toddler Whines Day

Rachel Osborn from Don’t Call Me Supermom will be joining us with her post at Don’t Call me Supermom.

Nikki Crump is military spouse and mommy of three who blogs about motherhood, mental health and fitness from Healing Mama Remedies asked our question this week!

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1 Bible verse to be a Better, More Consistent Parent

Can 1 Bible verse help me be a better, more consistent parent? Can being firm actually be more loving? God's love letter answers me in unexpected ways.

Can 1 Bible lesson from James soften my heart and help me be a better, more consistent parent? Could standing firm actually make me more loving?

One of my favorite experiences as a believer is how God’s word has become this amazing love letter and an active presence in my life as I spend time in it.

Proverbs 7:1,3 (ESV1 My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments within you  . . .  3 Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.

When I face struggles, God brings His peace and answers to my mind, helping me understand why we write His treasured words on our hearts.

But how does the Bible actually help me be a better, more loving, more consistent parent?

Being MOM is challenging in ways I never imagined. Oh, the things we have to say . . .

“No, it’s NOT mommy’s job to unstick your wedgie!” was a real conversation I had to have MORE THAN ONCE.

While it has humorous moments, it’s also a fight that erodes our peace and strength at times. I just grow weary: weary of repeating myself, weary of the same tasks and chores, weary of the same issues over and over.

I’ve learned parenting is really front lines Ephesians 6 battle for the souls and futures of my family. We fight human failings and sinful natures. Every attitude and decision shapes the atmosphere of my home, transforming our relationships with each other and with God.

Can 1 Bible verse help me be a better, more consistent parent? Can being firm actually be more loving? God's love letter answers me in unexpected ways.

Knowing God’s truths prepares my heart to face my battles with righteousness and peace, even when my largest combatant is around 4 feet tall. 😉

But sometimes the lessons come from unexpected places, verses I wouldn’t have found searching for parenting wisdom, but verses that help me clearly understand the character God wants me to have.

One week last year was full and busy with my older boys visiting from their mother’s. The house feels bustling, complete, joyous when they are here, but we also enjoy a messy chaos. But asking for help with cleaning tasks seems to release the inner debater in my children.

As I dusted, I prayed over my frustration with them. Why does it always have to be a debate?

Can 1 Bible lesson help me be a better, more consistent parent? Can being firm actually be more loving? God's love letter answers me in unexpected ways.

And a verse came to mind.

James 5:12b ESV  .  .  .  but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

While in context, this verse is about making oaths, I immediately felt convicted about my reluctance to hold firm to my parenting expectations. It may not directly relate, but the essence of the verse is to mean what we say and stick to it.

And as parents, our expectations are a type of promise because they help our children know what to expect from us and who we really are.

Consistent parenting is a promise that tells our children what to expect & who we are. Click To Tweet

As a child, I despised because I said so. I vowed to do my best to answer the why questions of my children. But in an effort to help my children understand, I’ve taught them too much is open to negotiation.

Kids need clear directions from a consistent parent.

By letting my NO mean MAYBE too many times, I’ve sabotaged myself as a parent, and perhaps done a disservice to them as children in God’s family, too. As an adult, I’ve had to learn obedience to God is often doing without knowing why right away.

Of course, kids will always challenge boundaries, but consistency allows me to stay calm and peaceful even when their disobedience leads to consequences because I can be sad and disappointed with them in their poor choices.

Trying to always explain WHY, I've taught them too much is open to negotiation. Click To Tweet

Sometimes, I look into my daughter’s eyes pooling with tears, and I don’t want to send her to bed without dessert, but quietly holding her to the consequences will teach her the fruit of the spirit by example.

And that points her to Heaven, not Harvard.

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It isn’t the rule that matters

Today, my daughter needed to tell me something while I was in the bathroom. We’ve instituted a rule that if the door to the bathroom is closed, she is to knock before entering and/or wait, unless she has an emergency or something is really important. She’s four, so we give her some latitude with what she considers important (i.e. her brother holding a toad in the living room), but today she by-passed three closed doors to get to me. Opening all of them without knocking. So far she has only done this with me, but the rule is partially in place to avoid her walking in on her father or nearly adult brothers, or heaven forbid, a guest.

She stood at the bathroom door, peeking in at me. “I need to tell you sunthing.” I sat there, trying to decide what to do. Her little voice  was so quiet and sweet.

Was it life or death to make her follow this rule? Part of me said, just listen to her, what will it hurt? It will be faster just to hear her out.

But then I realized, that it wasn’t important to make her follow this specific rule because it was that important of a rule, but because if she doesn’t learn to follow the little rules, she won’t learn to follow any of them.

1 Corinthians 15:58 ESV “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.”

Despite being a rule follower myself, I realized I’ve been letting a lot of little ones slip around here. Instead of holding her to the rules, I try to be nice, taking circumstances into consideration. However, she doesn’t understand the complicated mental processes I’m going through when I decide to let a rule slide for a single circumstance, all she sees is that she can’t count on the rules, that I’m not consistent.

Instead of being nice, I’m really being incredibly unfair. She doesn’t know how to behave because there is no consistency. The result is a lot of discord and disobedience, frustration and anger. I decided that making her follow every single rule every single time might not be right, but I need to be way more consistent. Teaching her what to expect from me every time will help her feel safe and secure in a home that has structure with logical consequences. If we are our children’s first Bibles, first glimpses of God in how we reflect Him, I need to be as Christlike as I know how to be each day, and part of learning to be Christlike is to be consistent.

Hebrews 13:8 ESV “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

He never changes. His ways are all the time, for everyone, even when, in His mercy, He created exceptions to the rules and sent His son to redeem us from the penalty for our sin. All we have to do to know what He expects is to read the instructions ( i.e. the BIBLE). When I finally came out of the bathroom, after ascertaining that her “sunthing” was neither emergent nor important, she happily told me some little adorable animal fact she had seen on Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. I didn’t have to get upset or raise my voice. I just had to be consistent. This is the rule. This is the expectation. I will happily hear you in a moment, please be patient. She walked away knowing I cared, I want to listen to her, and knowing what I wanted her to do. Wow.

Later today, she tried to act up while a friend was over, throwing a fit over the guest child’s toy. I was focused on our conversation, but took the time to put her into time out, to make sure she was sitting quietly, not shouting at me from the step, then to send her to her room when she couldn’t control herself. She started to throw a fit, but when I counted to three, she ran to her room, sat in her rocker and waited for me to come get her. Being consistent, gently firm, and unwavering helped her understand what I expected and how she should behave. Considering that she went from laying on the floor in front of the stairs yelling that she had no toys to play with to sitting quietly in her chair waiting for me to tell her she could come out, I call that a parenting win. I didn’t have to get angry. Her failure to comply was her problem. I just had to be consistent.

Most parenting experts can tell you, all it takes is ONE exception to an expectation, and children understand all bets are off, whether that expectation is giving up a pacifier or sleeping in his/her own bed. If a parent caves once, children know to exploit that weakness. I’m fallible, I’m weak, but I have to be more consistent because I love her, and want her to know what that means. As an educator, I know I know better, but I didn’t realize how much I had been letting slip in the name of “kindness.” How hard would it be to worship and follow a god like I’ve been acting? I’ve been holding her accountable to a rule, except when I don’t feel like it, then getting angry when the rule isn’t followed the next time.

Thank God for GOD. His law is forever. We can understand who God is and who he calls us to be.

Luke 16:17 ESV “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.”

I’ve read most of the Bible at least once, some bits way more times, and some parts, I’m working my way through. But when you put it all together in context, with understanding of the WHOLE scripture and the Holy Spirit, God becomes very clear. He is who He is, all the time. If he calls us to be transformed from the ways of this world into His ways, isn’t being consistent and faithful part of becoming more Christlike?

Hebrews 10:23 ESV “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

God is faithful, always. We can know if we confess our sins and believe, that we are forgiven. We are called His sons and daughters. He gives us that to KNOW, not to hope in or assume, but to know because He is faithful. We understand our responsibility and the infinite grace God shares because of who He is.

1 John 5:13 ESV

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.”

So that we may KNOW that when we believe, when we act in accordance with the guidance of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ, that we have been redeemed and saved. Shouldn’t my daughter be able to know who I am, what I expect from her, all the time, or at least as much as humanly possible? and to know thy my discipline is guidance and love just as we know to accept God’s discipline (see Hebrews 12) as it brings us closer to sanctification. 

1 Corinthians 1:9 ESV “God is faithful, by Whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

God is our Faithful Father, calling us, guiding us, disciplining us, restoring us in gentleness, being hard when our hearts are hard, but always holding to the same standard, ‘do not sin.’ I have a hard enough time not sinning when I know what the rules are, when the expectations are clear. I feel a bit ridiculous for expecting my daughter to follow fluid guidelines as if she could read my mind, knowing which time I “really meant it.”

Turns out, it isn’t the rule that really matters. It is choosing to have a few fair rules and enforcing them consistently with love, mercy, and compassion hopefully developing a child who knows how to love others as Christ has called us, and yet knows when to question an unrighteous rule because she truly believes something is wrong, not just questioning and rebelling against everything because she doesn’t have a firm foundation.

Matthew 7:24 ESV

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.”

Another day of making sure my actions, my prayers, and my words reflect the words of Christ to teach her to build her life on the Rock because He is always faithful.

Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; – See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/God,-Faithfulness-Of#sthash.CQmSqPYz.dpuf
Lamentations 3:22-23

The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

– See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/God,-Faithfulness-Of#sthash.CQmSqPYz.dpuf

Lamentations 3:22-23

The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.

– See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/God,-Faithfulness-Of#sthash.CQmSqPYz.dpuf