Around 2 years of age, your child is transitioning from using gestures, grunts, crying and whining to get what he wants. Now that he is 2, he should have around 50 words and be putting 2 words together like “me go” or “more doh.” Somehow one and two-word sentences don’t feel like enough to him and the whining starts. I work with a little boy who had become accustomed to yelling “Ma ma ma”whenever he wanted something. After several sessions and modeling for mom, he knows that I won’t respond to that kind of talk and that he has to talk quietly and use his words to let me in on what he wants. Here are some tips to curb whining and yelling and encourage using language to make his needs known:

  1. Model quiet, calm talking to your child and label it as using a “good talking” or “using your words.” Try to be positive and not focus on “Stop whining” but rather “I like it when you use your words.”
  2. Play a game taking turns, whether it is adding to a play-doh creation , painting or turning the pages in a book. As you take your turn or make your requests, you model the right way to ask for something.
  3. Ignore the whining or yelling. This is hard but if you are consistent your child will get the message that he won’t get the Popsicle, mom’s attention, or someone to go outside with him if he whines.
  4. When he whines, calmly model an appropriate way to say it such as “More paint” and continue modeling it until he imitates you. Then reward him with the paint.

It is hard work to be consistent but you will be rewarded with less whining and more communication.