Now, let me clarify- Zach is doing great with his language. Really coming along well, new words all the time, slowly increasing the length of his phrases etc. But, he was a (mildly) late talker.
I think that late talkers develop their own way of communicating. It is part of why, I believe, they can be late talkers- they find other ways to communicate effectively and thus have no need to do the hard work of figuring out how to talk. Eventually, these rudimentary methods they have developed are insufficient for the things the child wants to say so they sigh and give in and start talking.
I believe that the easiest, most natural, and (in many circumstances) most effective form of communication that late talkers develop is whining. They whine, it gets attention, and then the attentive adult can figure out, on their own, what the child wants. This starts a pattern and that pattern sticks and then you have a whiner.
I have a whiner. And, whoa, does it drive me crazy.
It is really only just recently that I have noticed this behavior (my ignoring and tending to it being part of what has brought it into being in the first place) more clearly and have started trying to address it. I started my battle against the whining by just consistently asking him not to whine (when he was whining, of course). Then it dawned on me that he might not know what this “whining” I speak of is. So the dialogue I have recently picked up is… child whines, my response: “you are whining. No whining.”
I originally thought I would explain that it bothered me or made me sad (or whatever sensitive mumbo-jumbo I am supposed to feed my toddler to make him secure with himself and emotions) but decided it was too many words. I know I should use a positive rather than a negative: something like, “use your big boy voice” rather than, “no whining.” But I think, a lot of times, even that kind of thing gets to be too complicated. I personally think it’s a check in the positive column that I’m not shouting “IF YOU WHINE AGAIN, I AM GOING TO GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO WHINE ABOUT.” So let’s focus on that.
Now, is he really more of a whiner than any typical two-year-old, maybe yes or maybe no. But either way, I wanted to address it and that is how I am doing it. Yay. I wouldn't call it proactive but atleast it's active.