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A new era has begun at our house: The Age of Whining.


These days, it feels like every word that comes out of Maddie and Riley’s mouths is said with a whine. A lovely phrase such as “Please can I have more milk?” sounds like nails on a chalkboard when uttered in the plaintive toddler tone. I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve said, “Can you say that in a nice voice?” in the past couple of months, but if I had a dollar for each instance, I might just be able to stop worrying about my retirement funds and the fate of the stock market.


It’s the age. It’s a phase. It’s just a whine. What’s surprising to me is just how draining it is. When Maddie and Riley were first born, I knew that there would be times when one of them would have to cry while I tended to the needs of the other; I am one woman, they are two children, and I can’t always meet both of their needs simultaneously. While understanding that intellectually, I was totally blown away by how upsetting and stressful it was to have to listen to the crying. It made me feel like a failure, and it totally jacked up my blood pressure. 


I’m finding that the whining has much the same effect. OK, not quite: it doesn’t make me feel like a failure. But it does stress me out and cause me to lose my patience unless I really watch myself. Most of the time, Maddie and Riley are using a whiny tone for no good reason, and if I just remind them that they need to speak nicely, they do. Thank goodness for that. Now if they could just remember to use the nice tone in the first place . . . I think I’ve got a few years on that.


I guess sometimes we all just need to whine, and I right now I needed to have my own moment to whine about the whining. I’ll end with a story about Riley; those of you who read Snickollet have already seen this, but it’s worth repeating:


Riley: [endless series of demands issued in obnoxious tone] I no wanna eat dinner! I no wanna play toys! I no wanna go home! I no wanna wash hands! [and on and on]
Me: Riley, please, I’m begging you just tell me ONE THING that you WANT to do! Anything! One thing! That’s all I ask!
R: I wanna WHINE!


Pretty smart answer for a two year old! Here’s to a whine-free evening for us all. Or some wine to go with the whining? Maybe that’s the answer!

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7 thoughts on “Whining”

  1. We have one whiner in our house (Alex) and it drives me crazy faster than anything else. He used to wake up in the morning crying. Now he wakes up whining. I’m undecided on whether it is more irritating to me to wake up to crying or whining.

    I read in “Your Two Year Old: Terrible or Tender” (recommended by Ask Moxie) that two year olds don’t even realize they are whining, so simply pointing out they are whining sometimes helps.

    PS. Once I wanted to get the boys to sing happy birthday to their cousin and post it on my blog. Instead I got an awesome video of Alex whining “My birthday” over and over.

  2. I don’t know if my girls have just outgrown it (they’ll be 3 next week) or my tactics finally worked, but I’ll share what we did to combat the whining.

    We told them we couldn’t understand them and they’d need to use a normal voice. If that didn’t work then we told them, “Maybe there’s a grumpasaurus in your mouth, eating your words. Quick open up and let’s get him our of there.” Then we’d reach in, take out the “grumpasaurus” and blow him away. Whining halted, mostly do to laughter and breaking the tension. Then we’d ask them to repeat the request in a normal voice.

    Now all we have to do is say, “normal voice, please” and don’t make a big deal about it. It usually works.

  3. I would ignore the whining. Tell them I can’t hear them when they talk like that and carry on with whatever. Wine helps too. 😉

  4. I don’t have small children, but I have a niece and a nephew who, although no longer small, once were small. They used to come to my house quite a bit when they were young, and if you asked them then (or if you asked them today!) what are the rules in your aunt’s house, their response would be: “No whining and answer when you’re called.”
    I am their aunt, and it seemed almost a given that my job was to spoil them rotten and send them back home to my sister’s house with a new, 1050-piece toy that came in a resealable container that never did. Reseal, that it.
    So I came up with those two rules. No whining in my house. And when I call you, you answer. No ignoring your aunt. I realize you could be watching SpongeBob and he was about to save the world, but when I call your names, I expect to hear, “Yes, Cioci?” (We’re Polish so Cioci = Aunt)
    If I was calling you to the table, feel free to say, “But Cioci, there’s only 3 minutes left to the cartoon.” And I promised to let them watch the end while their spaghetti cooled (my husband says I serve all our food too hot anyway!).
    So the whining and the ignoring things? Not acceptable.

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