Should I punish my toddler for whining?

You can give time-outs for excessive whining. The amount of time necessary for each toddler will vary, but usually a short one (a minute or less) is sufficient to make your point. We have a little place in our kitchen for exactly such purposes; it’s just a small corner of space between a wall and an armoire, about three square feet of space, which provides a sense of containment for our little guy.

After trying to help him stop whining and use his words, I will threaten once, "No more whining. More whining, and you go in time-out." When he was at his peak of whining, I would follow though on this once or twice a day. He felt the pain of the consequence, and especially the pain of having to give up some power, and often (but not always) return in a better frame of mind.

Toddlers "whine" because they are expressing their feelings of distress and anger. The trick is to figure out what they are distressed and angry about and attend to that. One can also help them turn the "whine" into a more productive communication: "Please tell me what you are distressed about...the whining does not give me much information. Tell me what is going wrong and I can help fix it." 

Parents: Please remember that whining--ie, distress and anger--are SOS signals. Your toddler is saying "something is wrong here."

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.