Pushing limits

Expert advice on what to do about your child's temperament

Q: I am having a lot of trouble keeping my patience with my three-year-old daughter’s constant whining and limit pushing. How can I stop from losing my cool?

A: Many three-year-olds whine, so it’s typical, if annoying, behaviour. And all kids push limits, so you have a healthy, typical little girl. Let’s talk about whining first. Kids whine because it works. And it works because it’s so grating, we will do whatever it takes to make that awful sound stop. We give in and they learn how to get what they want. Tell her that you will no longer listen to her when she whines. She must learn to use her proper voice. Then when she whines, simply turn away and continue with whatever you are doing. If you can manage to ignore her until her voice goes back to normal, and do that a number of times, she will stop because it’s just not working. Do make sure to pay attention the minute she stops the whining.

The easiest way to handle kids pushing limits is to be clear on the family rules. When she pushes, just say, “You know the rule.” If there is one limit she seems determined to push, ask yourself whether that rule is fair or appropriate. It could be that it should no longer apply now that she’s three.

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