Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Whining infant

Questioner: Kristen

Subject: whining infant

Question: I have an 8 month old son. He recently started this whining thing where he will be somewhere(high chair, exerciser, play mat, etc. and just begin whining- not crying or fussing, but a constant whine. It is driving me crazy as I am not sure what he saying other than he may be bored, but I am trying to get him to play by himself. Any suggestions?

Answer: Dear Kristen:

At 8 months old a baby is not likely to play long by themselves especially if this is a new thing. The whining is something that he has developed to get a response from you to get his needs met. Babies develop different pitches and noises to entertain themselves and to get their needs met as they have a difficult time communicating what those needs are and a need to be with you or for attention is a definite need.

If he is use to your constant attention and is just now being put down to entertain himself you could not expect him to just get with the plan.

However if this is your goal to get him to entertain himself it would probably be best not to expect it in a high chair....he needs to be where he has plenty of age appropriate toys and colors to focus his attention. Still he is not going to just fall in line with the program without "protest". His whining is his protest and your the establishment. So here is what you do. Respond to him with eye contact and verbal praises when he is not whining. DO NOT give him eye contact and respond to him when he is whining. If you do you are NOT going to see any results.

NOW, the behavior will get much worse before it gets any better. EXPECT it to increase in intensity and duration when you change your behavior. He is going to try very hard to get things back to where they were before.

As for the it is normal....yes it will annoy you and you will either have to deal with your annoyance or you will give in.

If you will remember this technique it will go along way clear through the teen years! Practice, practice, practice....remember what you positively or negatively reinforce you will get more of so praise and eye contact and other engagement cues when you are getting appropriate behavior will increase appropriate behavior.

Engaging in conflict will only lead to more behavior you do not want.

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller

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