Toddlers are notorious for requesting a toy and then fussing about it. They aren’t being manipulative. They are being toddlers. Sometimes they can’t decide what to do with the toy (build a tower, build a house, etc.) and sometimes they find receiving a toy isn’t instant joy, but they expected it anyway (toddlers are rather like movie stars that way…)
Assuming that whining means they don’t want that toy, many parents become short-order playmates, dragging out everything but the kitchen sink to see if it pleases majesty. This almost always increases, not decreases, whining. For an explanation, see the above paragraph.
What can a parent do when their toddler gets what they want and then begins to whine?
Well, if your child isn’t hungry, in need of a diaper, exhausted, or ill…..
Start playing with it yourself.
That’s right. DO NOT INVITE THE CHILD TO JOIN YOU. NOT YET.
Play happily, but not with crazy abandon. No need to go nuts. But play with the toy in the manner in which you would expect your child to be able to play. This means build a tower, not a replica of London Bridge. Feed the baby doll, don’t teach it Spanish verbs. Squish the Play-Doh, don’t make a coiled pot.
Very young children often jump right in, now that they have a clearer idea of what to do, and someone to do it with. Wait for them to indicate that they are interested, and offer the toy without a lot of words. If the toy gets tossed and a big grin spreads over your toddler’s face, you know they are baiting you. They are drawing a line in the sand. But if they play nicely, respond with smiles and even a hug. This is the fun part of parenting, and you just hit a home run!
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