Gentle and Sure Shot Ways to Stop Toddler Whining

Whining is your toddler’s way of getting your attention. When they were babies, they would cry, now as he grows it turns into whining. Mostly every child keeps whining at a certain point of time.  Whining is more irritating for parents. Tantrums are normal and can be handled with a little care, but when your child is whining he or she does not even want to listen to any reasoning or suggestions. Much more efforts are necessary to stop toddler whining. 

Whining is generally seen more in toddlers and preschool age. This is when they are learning how parents react to their needs. Whining is not a character trait, it is just an attempt to get what a toddler or child wants. Whining is common when a toddler or child is either hungry, under-stimulated or overstimulated, tired or exhausted and if your child is sick. Before you look out for tips to stop toddler whining, check out the reason  behind why your toddler is whining. 

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The possible reasons for toddler whining

Emotional roller coaster

Toddlers or children are too small to understand so many emotions they feel around them. They see you getting angry and after a few days they will pout and say they are angry.  Won’t they? They don’t understand the emotions but are starting to get the gist of it. So when they go through various emotions without understanding it, they whine to the parents in a hope that we will help them. 

 Physical necessities and need your help

If your child is hungry, he might begin to whine if left hungry for too long. We expect our children to let us know when they are hungry. But what happens is children (specially toddlers) are busy learning, exploring and being distracted by everything around them. How will the tiny beings remember that they are hungry and ask for food. But by the time the distraction or exploring is done, they are super hungry and can’t do anything but whine. Have you ever noticed hungry people tend to be cranky and agitated!! 

Similarly there are many physical necessities like naps, resting periods between energy bursts which have to be tended to. So next time your child is whining check all your basic necessities ticked off and move to solving the various reasons behind toddler whining. 

Need for communication 

Yes your toddler or child can speak well, but can they communicate everything? There are a few things even us grown ups cannot sometimes communicate to people around us. Toddlers are still young to put everything into communication. If your child has not yet started verbalizing his needs, then the main reason behind tantrums or toddler whining can be this inability to communicate what is going on. Try guessing what your toddler is saying or trying to say. Give a few reasons and ask him to choose what makes him whine. 

Frequent changes around the house

A crucial and most ignored reason behind toddler whining.  If there are a lot of changes happening around the house related to the toddler , this can make your toddler cranky. Toddlers, children thrive on routines. If something is out of routine, it can be annoying to them. If such changes keep happening frequently, it can be the reason behind your toddler’s whining. 


As your child becomes a toddler, he will become independent, start doing things on his own. In contrast to this, he will also learn that he is smaller than other people around him. He is weaker than people around him. Also can’t take the cookie box out of the top shelf like his mom and dad do. He may start to feel powerless at times. This can be a trigger for toddler whining. You need to handle this very carefully, as if not it will turn into something really hurtful to their confidence in the parents. 

If it worked once, it might work again

If in the near past, you were extremely tired and gave in to whining once, your toddler might be whining this time to check whether it works again. Make sure you do not give in to whining as much as possible. There will be days when you are exhausted and don’t want to handle a whiny toddler. Such days are the test for your patience and these are learning days, because your child is learning by looking at how you are when you are tired and how you react to stressful situations. Children are quick learners, if they see something worked last time, they will try it again to check it again. This is similar when you make a certain bendable rule. 

Know more about “How to make sure your toddler follows rules”

Need a connection with you

Most likely a toddler whining can mean he needs to feel connected to you. According to children they can feel a connection with you when you spend quality time with your child. Spending one on one time is extremely important to avoid any problems with your toddler. Whining child may be trying to gain your undivided attention or needs a physical closeness to you like snuggling or cuddling. 

When your child asks to spend time with you, please do it as much as possible while keeping any distractions away. When your child asks for a hug, give him a long hug for as long as he needs because he may not know how else to feel connected. We will read more about it in the sections below.

Now that we have seen the possible reasons behind a toddler whining. Let us see what can be done to prevent your toddler whining. (Prevention is always better than cure. Right??)  Many times situations are such that it leads to a whining child unknowingly.

As parents it is our responsibility to potentially avoid any situations where your child becomes uncomfortable enough to start whining. For example, if your child has stranger anxiety, it is a bad idea to suddenly take him to a place with a lot of strangers, this is surely going to lead to your toddler whining. You need to prepare your toddler for such potential situations. Few tips that can help you avoid or stop toddler whining to simplify your life with your child.

Ways to stop toddler whining (even before it starts)

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Fulfill basic necessities to head of hunger and frustrations

Always make sure your toddler’s basic necessities like food, naps, activity and sleep are met properly. A full tummy and satisfied sleep always gives you a happy baby. Maintaining routines is very important for your child to be relaxed most of the time. This routine can be related to food, naps or activity etc.

 I take my little one out to the park every evening after his afternoon nap, on days when we cannot go to the park, he certainly is going to be a whining child. Whining starts because he is a nature lover and he is a people person, he loves meeting his friends and meeting new people and playing in the park.  He loves looking at insects, leaves and sometimes he gets to meet a few dogs. Now the reason behind my toddler whining is his necessity of socialising and open air is not met on such days. 

Praise normal voice

Always praise your child when he uses his nice voice or regular voice. Whining child has a high pitched, screechy voice. I am sure none of the parents love their toddler whining voice. Remind them when they are about to have a hard time, that you can explain things or feelings better if you use your nice voice. Teach your child that nobody likes to hear a whiny voice. 

You can make a game out of this, ask something in a whiny voice and let your toddler remind you to use the nice voice. Similarly, ask your child to role play in a whiny voice, and this time you get the chance to remind him to use his regular, beautiful voice.

Give more attention to stop toddler whining

Many times the reason behind the whining can be the lack of attention or craving more attention. Children need and thrive on attention and love given by parents. Now by attention I do not mean you need to sit with your child for the whole day, but you need to spend quality time with your child on a daily basis. This quality time can be one on one time of both parents while reading to your child or playing with your child. Cuddling with your child or hugging your child and touching as many times as possible is extremely crucial. Please make sure to avoid any distractions like watching TV or mobile notifications. Children notice the lack of complete attention and this can hence be the reason for your toddler whining

Avoid boredom

Toddler is learning to play independently gradually. But a toddler is still unable to come up with activities to keep himself occupied for a very long time. You can notice that boredom is the main reason behind toddler whining and tantrums. Even when your child is a few months old, she wants to interact with you. Consequently, when she does not see you for some time she will start becoming fussy or cranky. This is one of the stages where whining begins.

Be ready with activities of your child’s liking to avoid toddler whining because of boredom altogether. Activities can be something that distracts them for a good time like painting or helping in cooking etc. 

Check our our amazing article on “How to keep your energetic child occupied with activities”.

Label their emotions when whining; don’t label your child

Never label your child as a “Whiny child”, “Grumpy baby”, “Cry baby” because this enters their subconscious minds and he or she might make sure it becomes true. Always praise your child for all his good efforts to stay calm and happy. Help them label the emotions and understand each emotion. Let them know there is a difference between sadness and disappointment, tiredness and exhaustion etc. It is very important that they learn their motions and about how it feels when they feel these emotions. 

An amazing way to teach emotions is through books available on emotions. Whenever you recognize a certain emotion in your child help them name the emotions and the feelings around that emotion.

Another amazing idea is to have a bedtime talk with your child just before your baby falls asleep. Remind them of all the good deeds they have done in the day. Praise how he or she handles his emotions. Talk about how it felt when they did not want to share a toy with a friend or how it felt when somebody snatched their toy etc. At this time your child is mostly calm and ready to listen to your logic and mostly it will help them remember it the next day. 

Talking about feelings to avoid toddler’s whining

Talking about feelings is an amazing way of acknowledging those feelings and emotions. In the previous tip we saw how to label those emotions. Now when we label those emotions talking about it helps your child to let it out. Children recognize that they have handled their feelings really well and feel accomplished, when the feelings have been verbalized. This recognition of what they are feeling and parents understanding their feelings is what most children need to stop whining (especially toddler whining). 

As your child grows, this talking about feelings can be turned into a healthy habit of journaling. As children grow they have a lot of things that they cannot share with parents. It is a great idea for children to start journaling at an early age. It is a way of talking about your feelings and acknowledging it. 

Keep toddler frustrations in check

As your toddler grows he will be a little frustrated over small things like when he can’t get the bottle cap open. A little amount of frustration is healthy for growth, but not too much. Too much frustration can lead to toddler whining. Try to avoid frustration by setting age appropriate expectations from your child. Children feel an accomplishment when they fulfil their parents expectations (simplest ones) too. This sense of accomplishment and reducing frustrations can help you stop toddler whining. 

Above preventive measure will help you keep the toddler whining away for some time. But what to do when your toddler has already started whining. 

How to handle toddler whining in progress?

Find out the exact reason and try to solve it soon to stop toddler whining

Try to find out the exact reason why your toddler is whining. Is he hungry? Is she sleepy? Does he need a hug or cuddle?

Is he tired? Get to the roots of your child’s frustration and try to eliminate the obvious triggers. 

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Don’t raise your voice in front of a whining child

You need to be gentle with a whining child. If you start yelling or screaming at a child who is already in distress, it can make him feel disconnected and increase his distress. Your yelling or screaming is a kind of negative attention, however they do not know how to differentiate between good attention and negative attention. Indirectly you might encourage him to look for negative attention. 

Distract her when reasoning is not working

When nothing seems to work and your toddler is getting more agitated with time, best solution to try is distraction. Children forget easily when parents distract them with something that holds their interest. Distraction works in most scenario whining child, crying child or sick and exhausted child. You know what catches your child’s attention best. So use the best and easiest available distraction technique to distract your toddler from the reason he is whining for.

Try a hug or physical touch of any kind to stop toddler whining

Ask your child if he needs a hug or cuddle. Many times that’s all he or she needs to stop whining. There are times when they just need to feel connected to you physically. It is a great idea to keep touching your child or hugging him as much as possible throughout the day. It calms children and promotes healthy psychological development.

Try cracking a joke or getting your child to laugh

“Laughter is the best medicine”.

Try to make your child laugh by telling a joke or making quirky faces. If it is working soon your child will calm down and stop whining. A toddler who cries, laughs and talks a lot generally has let out his emotions of happiness, sadness and feelings so does not have many reason to be cranky. But if it is not working and having the opposite effect (agitating your child further), please do not try it again soon. 

Keep calm to avoid further motivating and stop toddler whining

Parents have to understand children are not trying to get a raise out of you or they are not trying to make you uncomfortable or irritated on purpose. There is always some underlying reason behind your whining child. Check in the above section to know possible reason for your toddler whining.

When your child is whining and not listening to any of your suggestions or solution at all, try not to get angry or yell on them (It happens!! I loose my calm when I am too exhausted). When you lose your calm the children feel that they are not being understood by his parents who are his best place to go to when he or she is feeling lost or sad. If you need a moment, get out of the room for a few minutes. Remind yourself of all the happy times with your child. Remember your child is in distress, you need to help him out of that messy puddle. In addition, when you handle these emotions carefully, you can later explain the logic to your child when he or she is calm enough to listen and understand. 

I have made a folder of funny videos and happy videos of my little one and me together. Whenever I feel agitated and loose my calm, I first see these videos for a few minutes and then it gives me a certain peace to handle my distressed child. I call this shift “Mood Shifting List”. Make your own list of somethings that make you happy, a happy place or your favourite videos of your baby. 

Give in once; give them options to choose from

If the request your child is whining for is reasonable, try to give in once. For example if your child is hungry and wants you to cook something now. It is okay at times to give in to genuine requests. Make sure you are not giving in to unnecessary requests like extended TV time or extra toys from the shop etc. Another great idea is to give them options like you can watch the extra requested time in the next slot. Eating cookies after finishing lunch, not before lunch time etc. 

Never whine in front of your child to avoid toddler whining

Children mostly lead by example. Please make sure you never whine in front of your children or within your children’s hearing. Always use a gentle and a soft voice when talking to your children. Using a firm one (instead of yelling voice or whiny voice) when using disciplinary actions is also a great idea to stop toddler whining. 

Whining at the toddler age is normal, but please do not let this whining behaviour continue or encourage it in any way as it can turn into a habit if the child realises that it is working. Include all the family members in helping to eliminate the toddler whining habit as early as possible. Everybody in the house needs to be on the same page when it comes to handling a whining child. Parents or Grandparents are mostly going to be the adults mostly encountering these whining times, because children are on their best behaviour in front of people who they know will not entertain any such behaviour. 

You can see whining habits occasionally as children grow, i you have encouraged even a single time in the past. Make it a habit and remind yourself to Keep Calm!! when your child is whining and don’t give in. An adult who whines all the time is not really a pretty sight, neither does anyone entertain an adult who keeps whining. 

So parents keep calm and stop your toddler whining gently with care and per attention. Happy Parenting!!

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  1. Ayushi

    Nicely written Ramya!

  2. Jhilmil

    Brilliant read! Kids do experience varied and extreme emotions which they themselves don’t understand. Loved your point of communication and connecting to them, hugging them.

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