What if you’ve already given in to your whining toddler more than you like? You can always change your behavior. “If a child has always gotten what he wanted with whining, then it will be hard to change that behavior at first,” says Karen Carter, M.D., a pediatrician in Augusta, Ga., who specializes in developmental behavior. “But if you state calmly that you’re not going to listen while he whines, then it will decrease,” she says. Keeping calm when confronted with a whining, upset toddler is key. “The more unemotional and matter-of-fact you can be, the better,” says Lerner.
A calm demeanor can diffuse the intensity of a child’s frustration. “You can say, ‘I can see you’re upset and I know you want something, but it’s hard to understand when you’re whining.’” It might very well be that you can’t give your child the strawberry ice cream cone she wants. Staying calm can help you both fi nd a solution. “You can respond by saying, ‘I can’t get that for you right now, so let’s think about what we can do,’” says Lerner. “This keeps the conversation positive.”