A Time for Whining & Potty Training
Between 25 and 27 months, your child may exhibit more control over his impulses. For instance, you may notice that, when asked to wait for a minute before opening his package of raisins, your child can do that without a total meltdown.
Why Do Kids Whine?
However, many children are perfecting a practice that can be just as relentless and exhausting to their parents: whining. Why do kids whine? Whining is, in essence, "a tantrum in miniature form," says Sharen Hausmann, director of Smart Start Georgia. Whining is brought on by many of the same triggers as tantrums: hunger, fatigue, too much stimulation, an inability to articulate emotions, and, eventually, habit. It is a behavior often associated with periods of development during which a child feels overwhelmed, or expects failure or disappointment, Hausmann adds. "They feel defeated or tired before they've even tried to do something."
Toddlers latch on to the whining habit because they quickly learn that it gets results. Like a mosquito in your ear, whining is almost impossible to ignore. It's not that your toddler is necessarily trying to annoy you, he's just a survivalist who wants to do whatever it take to produce the desired effect (getting you to give in). If it takes a nasal continual droning sound to achieve his goal, then so be it.
Parents add to toddler confusion about whining because they sometimes give in only to make it stop. In addition, your child is not aware of how annoying whining is. He only knows that this particular voice makes you sit up and take notice. "We're so busy that we too often ignore our children to talk on our cell phones or get one more thing accomplished," says Hausmann, "so our children end up resorting to a more insistent tone of voice. It's all about getting our attention."
When to Potty Train
When is it time to toilet teach? Two things must happen before a child can successfully use the toilet: He has to be able to control the muscles of his anus and bladder, and he must also be emotionally ready, says Margaret Albrecht, curriculum specialist at the Parents as Teachers National Center, based in St. Louis, Missouri.
Signs of physical and emotional readiness include being able to sit on a potty and get off it easily, knowing when the urge hits, being able to undress without help, staying dry for two hours during the day, asking for "big kid" underwear, preferring clean diapers, and waking with a dry diaper after a nap.
Things generally go more smoothly if parents let kids take the lead: Girls typically train between 24 and 30 months, while boys are more likely to train between their third and fourth birthdays. If your child resists toilet training, or experiences a setback, says Albrecht, that could be a sign that he is either engaged in a power struggle with you, or has experienced something -- a painful bowel movement, or pressure to perform in a public bathroom -- that upset him. Then it's best to take a break.
What Baby's Doing:
Month 25: Refuses help, then cries when unable to do something; is aware of differences between self and others
Month 26: Soothes self when stressed; is capable of short periods of play with other children
Month 27: Repeats easy songs or rhymes; finds a favorite cereal by the picture on the box
Holly Robinson lives with her five children outside of Boston.
Originally published in American Baby magazine, June 2006.
All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.