She Says… Happy 4th!

Happy 4th of July!

I had hoped to have adorable smiley pictures of my little red, white and blue baby for you all to see, but unfortunately our day so far has been filled with nebulizer breathing treatments and a lot of whining. I’m not sure if it’s the bug Owen has (his usual… nasal/chest congestion, asthmatic breathing, stopped up nose, cough and general sickies, possible ear infection), teething (we’re up to 6 teeth and I think he’s working on 7 and 8 right now, though they are taking awhile to pop through completely), or frustration with not being able to walk on his own very far (he can go about 5 feet and then he plops down and is getting increasingly unhappy with that progress), but he is one out of sorts kid today. Thankfully naps have been normal, and he was fine when we went on a walk to see the 4th of July parade in our town, but the playtimes in between have forced me to gather all of the patience I have within me to ignore his whining and not explode.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Whining is far worse to me than crying or singing offkey or even fighting. It grates on my nerves. It makes me snap. Fast.

I have a feeling I’m going to have to get used to it, given Owen’s age and the fact that the “terrible 2’s” (or 3’s, as my mom always said that was way worse) are right around the corner. We’ve already entered the realm of baby temper tantrums. If Owen is holding my hand while walking and I stop to do something or steer us a certain direction, he throws himself on the floor, folds himself in half smooshing his face on the floor and wails. It’s not usually crying, it’s more of a scream. An angry scream. Thankfully at this age he is easily distracted and placated with something else. But still, it bewilders me.

There is a big part of me that wants to leave him there, crying, until he gets ahold of himself. To teach him that tantrums don’t get him anything. I have very little patience for whining and while I would love to say I “don’t tolerate it”, I’m not really sure what the best thing is to do in that situation. Especially with a child so young that they might not really understand the purpose of such a exercise.

That said, I’m sure he ‘gets’ cause and effect. And if crying and smooshing his red little face on the floor get him what he wants, he’s going to continue doing it.

So how do you avoid these tantrums when they are over something as small as walking the wrong direction? I’m currently reading “Happiest Toddler on the Block” (sequel to “Happiest Baby on the Block“, which absolutely transformed how I comforted Owen in the early months and, I believe, REALLY DID turn him into the happiest baby on the block), and Dr. Karp’s theories about empathizing (really, truly mirroring their frustration or anger or sadness) in a toddler-friendly way and then stating your rationale about why they can’t do whatever they want to do makes a ton of sense. It’s about meeting them at their level, and then steering them in the right direction. If that’s not a metaphor for good parenting, I’m not sure what is. Leave it to Dr. Karp to make it sound that simple! I’m just having a hard time putting it into practice when these little tantrums erupt. Ahem, often, on a day like today.

When it comes down to it I think the frustrated behavior I’m seeing now is a result of being on the verge of being a steady walker. He WANTS to walk somewhere, and gets halfway there and then just CAN’T. YET. GET. THERE. Imagine how frustrating that would be.

So I’m trying to keep that in mind while I listen to his nails on the chalkboard whining. Empathy = the key, right, Dr. Karp? I’m hoping once he wakes up from this nap he’ll be a bit less whiny. Please pretty please. How do you react to these little outbursts? At what age can you start to really make these teachable moments?

I hope your holidays are filled with less whining than mine!


17 responses to “She Says… Happy 4th!

  1. We have molar #2 popping through, but luckily we’re avoiding too much whining about that. We are having a ton of whining about the damn couch. She is THIS close to being able to climb on the couch herself and she just mashes her little screaming face in the couch until I come help her. Then she hops right down and wants to do it again. Sigh. I’ve timed it and it takes over 20 minutes for her to get tired of that game.

    My best advice for the whining is to turn music on. It puts me in a better mood and that seems to help the baby more than anything. The best part of that is when they dance to the music. 🙂

  2. My daughter is the same age as Owen, but can’t walk, or crawl, or scoot, or inch yet. You can only imagine the whining and yelling that goes on in our house!! I’m pretty sure that this is just an age that you’ve got to push through. We’re not responding in a consistent manner quiet yet, because it’s obvious why she’s so frustrated and, heck, I’d be pretty darn frustrated too! Sometimes we have to let her cry it out a little bit (if we can’t get to her right away), but other times we just head on over and hold her hands and help her toddle where she wants to go. These kinds of tantrums are a bit different from her wanting something that she is not *supposed* to have — those we deal with a bit more matter-of-factly, with a pretty firm answer, and help her find something else to play with. But until she gets this whole movement thing down, we’re a bit more lenient in that area.

  3. Oh dear, I just knew this was going to be right around the corner. I always view Owen as Cameron’s pre-cursor lol I know what you’re saying. It’s so hard to know what to do as far as not reinforcing the behaviour. I read Karp’s book and I think it’s great. HOWEVER, I am wondering how realistic if really is mid-tantrum. I suppose it’s going to take practice.

    We haven’t reached the “throw yourself on the floor” tantrum yet, but I’ve used Karp’s suggestions about the “fast food rule” when he gets frustrated & upset when he doesn’t want his diaper changed/change of clothes etc and it does actually catch his attention. I try to nip it in the bud right then and there by finding that “sweet spot” that he talks about. It’s like he gets distracted by my reaction kind of and then calms down. I bet that his frustrations are 100% verge of independent walking related & will calm down as soon as he gets there.

  4. We read that book for Lilly and it helped sooooo much! I think every personailty responds differently but it helped us keep our cool. We didn’t start it until she was around 18 months and a complete nightmare after being an almost perfect child. I have read another book that talks about their behavioral cycles in 6 month increments. They say that the 1/2 year point can be rough … for instance, 2 may be great but 2 1/2 is the pits. It has been true every time for Lilly. We are in the 4 1/2 place right now and I want to drown myself some days. Anyway, the toddler book helped a lot and we will certainly use it again for Chloe. Sorry little man isn’t feeling well. Lots of love and happy fourth!

  5. you are a shitty mother. its not like ur baby can help feeling bad. asshole. poor owen.

  6. My son is a bit older then Owen but honestly when the whining phase started, I simply ignored it. He would always calm himself down. Now at almost two, he still whines I am not gonna lie, but again I ignore it. I know he is fine and when he gets frustrated I like to encourage him to figure it out on his own! Unless he is really upset then I jump in and show him!! good luck. Whining is my weakness also!!

  7. you are a fantastic mother. it’s hard when our babies feel bad and it’s okay to voice that. you are not an asshole. owen is lucky for all of your love and affection 🙂

  8. Coming from someone in the mental health field, I also struggle with this question. I know all the techniques/theories/etc. etc. etc. behind behaviors such as this, but I’m starting to wonder when/how I should start really trying to correct it myself. I do think empathizing is important, but not to the point where you give them attention for the bad behavior (have you ever seen the mom trying to “talk down” her kid and he’s wailing louder & louder in her face?) I think you should say, “You’re upset because you can’t walk,” and that’s it. Short & simple. Or, “I know it hurts,” is always a good one. For now, I’d actually ignore the tantrum completely. When Everly does it, I say nothing and wait for it to be over. As soon as it’s over, I grab a toy and start playing with her and voila – it’s done. That’s all I can do for now because she’s no where near understanding my words on an emotional level. I’d say that’ll happen more around age 2. Here’s a good link about the stage he’ll be in then:

    You’re doing fine 🙂 And he’s doing fine, too. Completely normal developmentally for him to be doing this. He’s testing limits & exploring his world/boundaries, great characteristics of a growing, developing toddler!

  9. Whining drives me bonkers as well. I’ve nearly commited myself to a psych unit on more than one occasion due to what I considered unnecessary whining. And Paisley seems to get worse about it during a milestone too. So hopefully he’ll master walking really soon and revert back into the sweet child he normally is!!!

  10. Why would “anony” waste her time or energy leaving that comment? Kate, they actually did a study and, no joke, whining is the most annoying and intolerable noise. Period. They had people try to do math problems while listening to sirens and other distracting noises and the worst results were produced when individuals had to listen to the sound of whining children. Now if that doesn’t validate you, what could?? It’s SCIENTIFICALLY proven to be miserable!! Hang in there mama, it’s a season, and it will pass. Until then, look up that study (heard about it a few times on NPR this week) and know that you are in good company feeling intolerant of that trying, incessant whining. (I’m right there with ya, mama. Teething turns my babe into a whine-bot. Ugh.)

  11. Kate, you are such an amazing and dedicated mother. Keep up the wonderful work. I hope Owen is feeling better soon. My almost 3 year-old and my 10 month old have both hit a whining stage, so I FEEL your PAIN!!!

  12. Oh boy. I feel your pain!! My older girl is 2.5 now and WHOA BUDDY the whining has been thrown into overdrive. Most. Annoying. EVER. I tell her to stop and then ignore her until she stops. As soon as she does I give her hugs and tell her she’s a good girl and tyr to get her engaged in something else ASAP. But it is trying!

    My little one just turned 1 year and she is more of a tantrum thrower…as much as a one year old can be. When she gets upset because she can’t reach a toy or isn’t getting what she wants, she’ll fling herself backwards and scream and cry. That one isn’t as annoying but it sure is dangerous! She’ll try to fling herself backwards out of our arms if we’re not careful!

    OK so don’t think any of that was particularly helpful for you to know, except knowing that you are not alone (and you certainly are not a “bad” mother!)


  13. i read that book and it seems to me that the techniques are for kids a tad older than our boys. talking toddlerese, etc. it just isnt working for me right now. my son lays on the floor and / or clings on my legs and SCREAMS BLOODY MURDER (i wouldnt exactly call it whining, that is being too nice LOL) every single time i need to do ANYTHING. example: cook, do dishes, pour a glass of orange juice, go pee. and he can walk so that isnt the problem. if he’s mad, he’s throwing a tantrum and i ignore him. he was so loud last week when i was doing dishes at my mom’s hous, my grandma heard him FROM HER HOUSE (we are talking a giant corn field separates the houses) and ran over to see if i was beating him. yes he screamed that loud for like 15 minutes straight. so maybe i’m a bad mom right there with ya kate. 😉 however, my MIL who is a pediatric nurse says to definitely no respond to the tantrums. she says my boy is “a spoiled brat” [another topic entirely; i hate that she says that in front of extending family]. so i obviously dont do enough ignoring. 😉

  14. p.s. sorry for the typos; typing fast, nap time is surely going to be over very soon. 😉

  15. I assume anony has never been left alone in a room with a child… My niece likes to hit her head on the floor because her mom reacts to it. She did it with me and I just stared at her and let her (it was on carpet and she wasn’t like bashing her head…she did give herself carpet burn though :-/) She never did it again and she survived! Kids are smart and know how to push your buttons, if he’s getting sick, he will show symptoms soon enough but during teething time it is hard to tell the difference!

  16. My lil girl (who is 11 mths) is constantly whiny. I definitely know what you’re talking about! Silence is not a normal thing in my house, but you know I just let her whine sometimes. There is no amount of books, toys, food etc that will make her happy somedays so all I can do is listen and sing songs to her. Eventually, she smiles and stops for a bit, then I give her a hug and we keep playing. Somedays I look at her and think “I can only imagine how whiny and loud she will be as a toddler” lol We mothers have a patience made of gold! Teething time definitely makes matters worse *yikes*.

    BTW Kate, you’re a wonderful mother! Owen is one lucky little boy. Some people just think we mothers are NEVER supposed to get annoyed at our little one(s). It happens, but it doesn’t mean we love our kids any less. Love for our children is endless (but so is the whining, at least in my case). Ignore those haters out there, they have nothing better to do.

  17. Oh god, that comment from Anony made me laugh. Can it be serious? Surely those typos and the awful punctuation are a joke? I don’t think it’s funny that someone called you a bad mother, but this person is so clearly an idiot that I just can’t take it seriously.

    I have the same dilemma with Will. He’s younger than Owen, but has started kicking up a stink at times and I wonder how to react. It seems a bit ridiculous to expect an 8 month old to moderate his own behaviour but I also don’t want to reinforce bad behaviour.

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