I think it’s payback time. All those years, of whining and having major attitude with my parents are coming back to haunt me. These days, my toddler sounds just like I did during my rebellious teen years. When he is with me, and only me, his voice changes and has that whiney tone. Every sentence starts with, “I want and I need…” I didn’t think this could happen so soon. He’s only two!

I walked into his preschool class early yesterday. One minute he was sitting at the table well-behaved with all his classmates, but as soon as he spotted me, he was like a split personality. He reached out his arms to me, clinging to my leg and the whining began. The teachers looked at each other and then at me and said, “He doesn’t do that with us!” They also reassured me that this shift in tude happens around many parents.

I just looked at them with despair, and asked how I could make it stop? I’m not ready for the teenage years! Here were some tips they shared:

  • When your toddler starts to whine, simply say, “I don’t understand that language.” 
  • Don’t respond to his needs when he speaks in that voice. He will know that his tone is ineffective. 

I’ve started trying these techniques, but I’m not getting very far yet. Though when reading more about this behavior, experts say not to give up. It takes weeks to get a habit to stick. 

I’ll keep trying the “No abla espa-whiney” routine for a while. One mom online mentioned that in order to explain the difference in tones, she played back two different recordings of his voice to her toddler, so he got it. I’ll try that next.

The important thing is to not react to a toddler who behaves this way and instead to respond positively when he speaks in a pleasant voice. Of course this has been difficult too. When I hear him in any sort of discomfort, all I want to do is give him a big bear hug and tell him I’m there for him. It’s hard to imagine that that could encourage bratty behavior. 

At a visit with my spiritual teacher yesterday, we talked about what I might be doing to contribute to the whine as well. Am I spoiling my boy and giving in to his every need? I might be guilty. This little situation gives me the perfect opportunity to evaluate my own behavior as a mom. What can I do to stay steady and not encourage his kvetching? I keep reminding myself that every challenging stage of the toddler game is an opportunity for mom growth! 

Of course I hate to complain, myself here. My teacher also reminded me that our children are constantly learning from our behaviors and mirroring everything we do as parents. Oh boy, I gotta watch my kvetch! Either way, I’m not going to stress about this moment. We do the best we can and hopefully our kids will do the same, while speaking in that sweet voice we love.