I’ve learned that dealing with whining really depends on the developmental ability of the child. When David whines or moans to communicate, I’m suspecting a different motivation than when Bethel whines or grunts to communicate. I address his manner of communication. The difference is language ability. With Bethel, I am actually teaching her what to communicate instead of how.
Bethel is 17 months old. She often gives an approximation of most words if you ask her to repeat them, and regularly uses single words to communicate. More often, though, her communication is pointing, whining (ih ih ih), or giving a high pitch squeal (mostly when David does something she doesn’t like!). Because she is at this time actually learning to use words to communicate, I don’t act in the same way that I would with David.
Here are three words I am working on with Bethel:
More. At mealtime, I don’t require her to say please. Some may disagree with me here, but I’m more concerned about tone than the word. Right now I ask her to say “more” or the word “milk.” When she does, I repeat the whole phrase I want her to say “Good. More milk please.” or “Good. Please more milk.” If she were to say more in a demanding voice, I’d probably make her say it cheerfully (at this point, when I don’t know if she can tell the difference, I’d simply correct her and exaggerate a cheerful voice when I repeat the phrase). When she gets “more” consistently, then I’ll probably try to get her to say “please” along with it.
Help. I’m also really working on the word “Help.” I’ve only heard her use the word a couple of times. She needs this one, because she frequently becomes frustrated when she can’t do something and needs help. A typical conversation…. Bethel cries when trying to climb up stool. Mommy says, “Do you need help?” Bethel nods her head. (I think it’s a good time to stop this question and just say what I want her to say) Mommy says, “Say, Help me mommy. Help. Help” Right now, it’s hit or miss whether she’ll imitate me or not. That doesn’t bother me. We go through this conversation at least a dozen times a day, so she’ll get it.
Stop. Another word I’m trying to teach is “stop.” David will often do something she doesn’t like, and her response is to scream. I will usually say, “Don’t scream. Say Please Stop. Can you say stop? Stop.” Notice that even though “please” is in my phrase (as is also in “please more”), I don’t ask her to say it yet. I’ve never heard her try to say “stop,” but I repeat this conversation throughout the day, too. When she starts saying “stop” consistently, then I’ll try to get her to add the “please.”