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Whining & Willpower

Q&A with Vicki Hoefle

weedWhat can I about all this whining!?

Scenario: I’m trying to deal with a whining 2.5 year old. I’ve tried ignoring her, but it only gets stronger and my daughter will keep at it for up to 30 minutes. I believe you suggest not giving prompts like “Use big girls words”.   So the battle just continues. She is stronger than me at times. Yowza the willpower.

Answer:  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if your 3 year old has more willpower then you do now, you are in for a hell of time when she hits 13.  I don’t believe a parent can throw their hands in the air and claim a small child can out maneuver them in life.  There is more going on here so lets examine a few things that might be contributing to your dilemma.

  1. I would be interested to hear how this interaction ends.  Do you give in at the end of the 30 minutes because you are worn out?  If so, then you have taught her tenacity and she is using that tenacity to wear you down.  If she finally stops on her own, then you would see an improvement in the whining.

  2. I am going to guess that you don’t want to be the bad guy, that you may want your daughter to like you, which is reasonable.  But in wanting her to like you or not be upset with you or call you a mean mommy, you are giving in and creating a whining monster that other people will not find so endearing.  So you will have to decide at some point, that other people liking her is more important then her liking you – at least initially.

  3. You aren’t comfortable showing respect for yourself so it’s hard when a 3 year old challenges an already shaky area for you.

  4. You haven’t really committed to tackling the problem and you give up and give in when you run out of steam.  The only solution for this is to fully commit to your strategy.  Your energy will convey to her that you are serious and when she sees it in your eyes, hears it in your voice, she will know it’s time for a change.

QUESTION: Is whining a problem in your house? How is ignoring and/ or another strategy working out?


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