As babies turn into toddlers, it’s hard to teach them they need to talk instead of sob when they need something. Whining is my absolute least favorite thing that kids do, so I knew I had to do something immediately to make it stop. I found one simple phrase that got rid of so much whining and crying in those first few months with a toddler, I just had to share it with you!
Use your words please!
I started using this phrase when my kiddo was just 12 months old. He only knew a handful of words and he was still using fussing as his main form of communication. One day, I got tired of him screeching every time he was done eating and wanted out of his high chair, so I decided to teach him to either say “down” (which was a new word at the time) or point down to the floor (in case he couldn’t figure out the new word in time). He didn’t like it at first. He tried to resist using words instead of fussing, he would sit in his chair and fuss for 5 minutes or so the first few days before finally relenting and pointing down. but eventually, he learned.* Sometimes he would fuss and I would have to remind him…I would say something like “are you wanting DOWN?” emphasizing the word he should use, since it was a new one and he might have forgotten. But now, he tells me when he wants down without fussing (usually…we still have our moments).
*I’m pretty sure one day i just caved and let him down without saying it because it was turning into a huge battle… but he still caught on!!!
This is a concept I have carried out into every day life with my son. He often fusses to try to communicate his desire for something, but I never just give him what he wants when he fusses. instead, I say “use your words please” and wait for him to come up with a word that applies to what he wants. Usually, he knows the specific word for whatever it is (cracker, eat, water, bye bye, more, toy, etc.) other times, it takes him a minute while he thinks of a word that would be appropriate. Sometimes he just ends up saying “PLEEEEEE!!” (please) and pointing to something, but that still a WORD. It’s still communicating like a big boy. And I love that he ‘gets’ that.
In the past few months his vocabulary has really grown, and so I have started using this phrase with him regularly. It is interesting to watch him try to think of a word to use to communicate what he wants. It is also really nice to not have to sit and wonder why he’s crying and try 15 different things until I figure out the specific thing he was wanting. Don’t get me wrong, my kid still fusses. Fussing is still default when he wants something, BUT it is starting to change. Little by little I see him start to use words first, because he knows fussing doesn’t get him anywhere. It is really neat to watch, and pretty exciting too! Less fussing is always exciting in my book!
So what about you? what’s your favorite ‘mom phrase?’ go on, brag on your kids and mommy skills! I love hearing your stories! (and getting your wisdom!)
If fussing isn’t a problem in your house, you might like some of these simple parenting tips instead!