Parenting Skills

How to Stop your Child Crying to Get What they Want; No More Whining

crying to get what they want

Reader’s Question:

“My two and a half year old child cries and whines all the time.  When we go to the shop she cries all the time in the shop.  I feel so embarrassed that I buy her what she wants to stop her crying.  She does the same at home. She is constantly crying to get what she wants. My wife and I are exhausted listening to her constantly whining.  Is there something wrong with my child?” How do I get her to stop crying to get what she wants?


No, there is nothing wrong with your child.  She is behaving perfectly normally.

Your child has learnt that if she cries she gets whatever she wants.

This works perfectly for her but not for you and your wife. I can understand that this has been difficult and exhausting for you and your wife.  The good news is that your daughter is not her behaviour.  Sometimes we take our children’s behaviour personally, this is not the case.  Your daughter simply doesn’t know another way to communicate what she wants from you.  All she knows how to do is to cry to get what she wants.S

How to stop your child crying to get what they want

1.Teach your child to request what she wants using her words

At a quiet time, go down to your child’s eye level and tell her in a neutral voice that from now on to use her words and ask for what she wants.

2.Tell your child that crying to get what they want will not work from now on.

How to Stop your Child Crying to Get What they Want - girl crying

Explain to her that now when she wants something if she cries or whines, she will get nothing.  She can use her words to ask for what she wants. It is important to follow through on this and make sure she gets nothing for crying.  It is a good idea for you and your partner to agree, beforehand, to stick to this rule.  If you don’t follow through and give in when she cries, then you give her the impression that crying does work. Be aware that it may mean that you need to be prepared for her to cry in the shop until she learns to use her words to ask for what she wants. (You can do it, it is worth it 🙂 )

3. Choose whether she gets what she wants or not

So when your child asks for something without crying to get what they want, listen to her request and choose whether it works for her to get what she wants or not.  Just give her a yes or no answer and then stick to that.  Do not go back on what you have said no matter how loud she cries or how much she bargains.  If you are not sure if you are a yes or no to her request, tell her you will have a think about it and come back to her.  It is important that if you say no you mean no and vice versa.

4. Each time your child cries remind them to use their words

Kneel down to her level and remind her to use her words.  Don’t be angry or upset with your child for crying, they are learning a new skill and it will take time.

5. Consistency is key

Using this technique works if you are consistent. I have had parents come back to me after less than a week to say that their child has stopped crying to get what they want.  It can take longer, every child is different. Believe me it is worth being consistent.

How to Stop your Child Crying to Get What they Want - smiling boy

If you need any support or have any questions let me know in the comments below.  Your child will very quickly get the idea that crying does not work for her any more and she will use her words to ask for what she wants.  This leaves space for you to enjoy your child.  Teaching your child to ask for what they want and not cry to get their way is an excellent life skill for them to learn. It is well worth it to follow through, not just for your benefit but for your child’s benefit too.

If you have any other questions that you would like answered please send them in to us here.

For more parenting techniques that work check out my book, ‘Simple Parenting Skills in Minutes; Create a Happy, Loving Relationship with your Child‘.

Wishing you all a happy harmonious home.

Grainne xx

4 thoughts on “How to Stop your Child Crying to Get What they Want; No More Whining

  1. Hi Gráinne, is there any way to apply this to a younger child who cannot speak yet? Our 1 year old has started this recently all the time, not a tear in sight and stops the minute she gets what she wants. However if she doesn’t get it it develops into a full blown tantrum (we thought we had another year before that!!). Any advice on this?
    Thank you!

    1. Sounds like she is well ahead! If she calms down when she gets what she wants it is a strategy. Say no and then talk to her in a soothing voice. Acknowledge her feelings e.g. “I know that you really want x”. You only need to say no once, acknowledge her feelings. Please note, that she may ramp up the behaviour to see if that gets her what she wants. By the way you are teaching her to self regulate by naming her feelings. 1 year olds have not learned to self regulate yet so this is a great opportunity to help her to self regulate

  2. We tried it all. Even the staying calm and not giving in doesn’t work; especially if the answer is no which, in that case, a tantrum follows. It’s like dealing with someone who has blinders on. And just repeats what she wants over and over again as she’s crying and whining

    1. What happens when she gets what she wants? Does she calm down? Is she happy when she gets what she wants? How often does this happen? Start looking for what happens before the crying and whining? What happens during the tantrum and then what happens after? Is there any medical issues? Does she have any diagnoses etc?

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