02 December, 2012

Unwavering Whining

OPINION
Hello all, I am wondering if anyone can give me any fresh insight on how to deal with whining. I've worked with children for over 10 years so I know it's normal behaviour and I am aware that modelling appropriate ways to talk/ignoring it etc. are good ways to deal with it. I am just looking for some new ideas! My charge is 16 months old and for the past 2 weeks or so has been whining constantly. The typical screwed-up face with the fake cry has now become how he spends the majority of his time. He used to be so happy-go-lucky, his parents and I regularly went an entire day without hearing him cry! Now he constantly whines. Wipe his face, he whines (I'm not talking a typical little whine because he doesn't like it, I mean a full on melt-down that lasts a minute or two)...tickle him when he didn't want to be tickled, he cries for 5 mins...don't pay attention to him for literally 30 seconds, he comes running over whining!

Both his parents and myself are getting very fed up! Has anyone else experienced this with a child of his age? I think it started because when he was upset/whiney before, his mom would give him kisses and cuddles (because he was so very rarely whiney), but now it's escalated. I don't think it's related to a lack of communication (he's quite verbal), and while it is sometimes out of frustration (like when we wipe his face or put his coat on), mostly he just does it for attention. There have been no big changes like a move or a new baby. He just whines all day long! We have simply started ignoring him when he does it. Any words of wisdom/encouragement from anybody? - Canada Nanny

15 comments:

BrooklynMomma said...

Has the parent's schedule changed at all (are they spending the same amount of time with him)? Barring a cold or a developmental leap at this age, I would suggest if he whines about having his face wiped, instruct him how to do it himself and explain why his face needs to be wiped. If he whines after tickling, teach him how to say 'no thank you' or 'no tickles please'. Depending on where you think he is developmentally, you may even try to mimic his whining so he can hear how it sounds coming from someone else. Good luck! The whining phase is my least favorite.

psyber chica said...

I use my phone to record my whiner and show it to him. He usually will laugh and move on. I think it's aged related, most boys are not very verbal at this age.

ericsmom said...

Give him a microphone to hear himself. I like the other suggestions. I think its good to ignore it. Don't respond to it.
Even though he is little he will get it. If you keep saying "I don't respond to whining" and then ignore him. I think he will snap out of it.

On a side note how is he sleeping at night or during nap time?

Bethany said...

Is he getting enough rest/sleep?

Have there been any changes in his life? Could be something like mom working a little bit later.

Is he getting too much stimulation during the day?

Is he teething?

Is he sick? He may be sick in a less obvious way than a cold.

Since he doesn't always like to be tickled don't tickle him.

Try and talk him through your actions don't just put his coat on or wipe his face. Tell him what you are going to do, do it,tell him why you are doing it, and you can even have him help you. Encourage him to use what words he has to express himself. If it's something he has to do like have a clean face or put a coat on you can validate his feelings but still get the job done.
Try and be quick. You can continue to ignore the whining, but make sure he is getting plenty of attention when he is not whining.

He may just be going through a phase where he needs a little extra attention.
Good luck.

MissMannah said...

Completely agree with Bethany. I think this little guy is at that awkward toddler stage when he wants to be independent but still likes a little babying. I was say give him as many choices as possible. For example, since he's not liking having his face wiped (and what kid does?), hold a washcloth out to him and say "Your face needs to be wiped. Do you want me to do it or do you want to do it yourself?" If he whines or struggles, say "OK, I guess you are choosing to have me wipe you. Maybe you will do it yourself next time." Then be very nonchalant (and fast!) and get him out of the high chair. When he gets a little older, you can take him to the sink and let him wash his own face after meals.

Ignoring the whining or saying something like "I don't understand you when you talk like this" is great for preschoolers but toddlers don't have that sort of comprehension.

NVMommovedtoTX said...

It sounds as though he is having sensory challenges. Tickling, face wiping, are all things that can send a sensory-defensive child over the edge. Stop trying to push your will on him and meet his needs.

And OP, I'm kind of surprised at the negative negative attitude toward a young child. Instead of seeing his problems as 'doing it for attention' and worrying about your being 'fed up', think of it from his perspective. He's having a hard time and now not only are the adults around him assuming the worst, now they're ignoring him too. He's not likely to improve unless you change first. You know, kids that age who can't communicate will whine and cry when they're distressed. Not ideal but it's pretty much all they've got until an adult makes an effort to find out why.

Sorry if this sounds harsh. His problems might not even be sensory. There could be other physiological or behavioral reasons, but at least grow some compassion and try and find the reason instead of coming down on a defenseless child.

A Nanny said...

Whoa, NVMommovedtoTX, that comment was way harsh. This sounds like a nanny (and set of patents) at the end of their rope, so how about you grow some compassion and try to find the reason instead of coming down on adults who are clearly fed up with a whiny child. I hate when posters come down so hard on the OP like she's the enemy. Nobody is the enemy here, neither the kid, parents, or nanny. (Sorry for the rant, but I hate seeing so much nanny bashing on these types of threads.)

Anyway, I agree with Bethany, that you should exhaust all the other options as to WHY this is possibly happening, but if there is no outside source that you can see, I'd just chalk it up to a phase. You mentioned that the child is communicative and has suffered no major changes, so he probably has just noticed the extra attention he receives when he's whining and wants more of that.

Explaining why you're doing what you're doing, giving him options, and trying to avoid what he hates that is actually avoidable (ie tickling) are all great suggestions. And if he is a perceptive child who can comprehend being ignored (you know that better than us), I don't think that's a bad idea, either. Just let him know you can't understand his whining and that's not the correct way to get your attention, and when he's ready to use his big boy words, you'll listen.

Moniker said...

This comment is for: NVMommovedtoTX.

You are being ridiculous. If she didn't want to get to the bottom of it and didn't care, she wouldn't be here.

I thought there was a rule against attacking OPs.

OP, I think you have been given some great advice. NVMommovedtoTX is just being obsurd.

Poltergeist said...

Yeah, I'd say NVMommovedtoTX is a little out there. It's people like her that lead to this blog's comments being screened. Sounds like she's just trying to be confrontational or create a contraversy.

ericsmom said...

You would really be surprised OP what toddlers understand. Even if he can't comprend everything. The child I watch he understands more than I realized at the time.

CanadaNanny said...

OP here, I guess I should have clarified. I don't mean whine as if is genuinely upset about something (like his needs not being met). I mean the scrunched up face, overly staged/dramatic, check-to-see-if-you're paying-any-attention, really fake sounding whine. He's not actually crying. Also, he normally likes tickling, I don't do things to him that his doesn't like!

Bethany said...


If it's truly fake stick with ignoring him or distracting him.

Also, kids at that age mimic a ton, so double check to make sure you and the parents aren't using whiny voices or any characters on any tv shows he's watching aren't whining.

My niece picked up whining from Caillou.

I'm not saying you are being mean to him, but since you don't know when he is going to like it or since he is going through a phase of not liking it I wouldn't do it unless he's asking you too.
Try something else to distract him or getting him to laugh.
Like blowing bubbles, or a toy instrument if he has one shake a maraca or tambourine.

It's a phase and it's horrible I empathize, but it will pass.

old-timer said...

NVMommovedtoTX, I understand you apologizing for being a bit harsh but you really should have worded yourself differently because I happen to agree with you that it could possibly be some kind of sensory deficit for this child and it was a great comment. Hopefully the parents will get him checked out. In the meantime OP, just try your best... I too, am very empathetic toward your situation. Good luck.

Their Amby said...

I nanny for a 4 year old who is STILL doing this. He too will do the fake whining and crying and once he realizes you are on to him, he will either give you a sly grin and chalk it up to teasing, or he will go into full blown tantrum mode to continue controlling the situation. I understand of course that a 4 year old is not the same, but if you find something that works, for the love of God please share it!

I think ignoring him, telling him you can't understand him when he uses his whiny voice etc are all good ideas. I also think that validating his feelings is important to... saying things like, "Usually you like to be tickled, and I like to make you happy, that is why I tickled you. If you don't want to be tickled use your big boy words and say no thank you, and I won't do it." Or, "It looks like someone is having a rough morning, are you having a hard day? Would you like some extra cuddles to cheer you up?" may tell him that you understand his feelings, and want him to be happy, bu communicate properly. Even if no major things have changed in his life, he may be developing an understanding of self, and working out how to express his needs, wants, and frustrations. Continuing to tell him you understand his feelings, but whining is not an appropriate way to express them, and then giving him other options (like doing it himself) may work, just be patient!

NVMommovedtoTX said...

To those who criticized my comment, I was not bashing anyone. I was urging the OP that when you approach problems with a child, be compassionate and you are more likely to find your answer. I don't like 'bashing' anyone but will say something if it sounds like someone is coming down unfairly on kids.

I am hardly after controversy and I've been here long enough for people who've read my comments to know that.