Give them nothing that they cry for, and only that when asked for politely.
This one is especially difficult at the stage we're in right now with Ladybug, the toddler stage. Or perhaps I only say this because I haven't been through any other stage other than babyhood yet!
There is nothing wrong with being a toddler. It's a stage. A necessary part of life that all must go through. But it can be incredibly frustrating for everyone involved, the parents, the child, the siblings, the pets, the nursery workers, the fellow shoppers who are listening to your child scream, the lady in Walmart who had to go down a different aisle so she didn't run over my toddler who had decided to plop down in the middle of the floor.
This article makes scientific sense to me and really helped me understand what might be going on in my child's life right now. The Science Behind Toddler Tantrums
So with that information in mind, how does this rule apply? Because, let's be honest, toddlers cry for everything. She cries when she's hurt. She cries when she wants milk. She cries when I give her juice instead of milk. She cries because she's hungry. She cries because she's still in the high chair and isn't hungry. She cries because I leave the room. She cries because I'm in her way. You name it, she'll cry about it. And this one I love: She cries about "x." So she plops down in the floor, and then cries because she plopped too hard. It really is precious. Unless you're in Walmart and didn't grab a cart because you thought she'd prefer to walk.
I am by no means an expert since we have just entered the toddler phase. But, my attempt is this. Follow the first part of this rule to the letter. Just a few weekends ago, Ladybug was in her high chair eating lunch with the Mechanic. She finished and began crying to get down. Since the Mechanic is out of town so much, I have to keep him updated on the latest abilities and rules, so I told him that she had to say or sign "all done." Just screaming and squirming were not acceptable. We both told her to tell us "all done." And she proved herself to be our child. The Mechanic once said the only person more stubborn than him was me. So he asked me how long we should let her sit there. I assured him that she would say or sign "all done" shortly. Sure enough, just a couple minutes later, we heard a sweet little "aa duu."
This can make days incredibly long. When she's crying and whining and I know she wants milk, it would be so much easier for me to just give her the milk. But ultimately, I know that is not good for her. I know I need to work with her communication skills as much as possible because that is a struggle area. But more importantly, I know that in order for her to be a sweet and gentle woman, she has to learn that she doesn't get what she wants just by whining or crying about it. I still struggle with that concept. =)
Now, the latter part of the rule. I'm not all that strict on this area yet, mainly because she doesn't yell commands at me. This is where the understanding of what is going on in her brain helps me. I'm working on teaching her "please" both in speech and sign. But, I also understand that she may not remember how to say please, or she may get frustrated and not be able to communicate. So I get her to calm down, which thankfully isn't hard with her, and then tell her to ask me nicely. And I'll take her hand and do the signs for her. I think it helps her to learn them, re-enforces that screaming and crying do not get rewarded, and allows her needs to be met relatively quickly.
The question I still haven't resolved in my own mind is at what age to start this. I don't apply this rule to Turkey yet. She cries for a bottle, she gets a bottle. I guess it's less about an age and more about having the ability to do something besides cry. For a baby, crying is communication. It's the only method they have. But, I am introducing her to signs and of course talking to her so that she can learn, just as Ladybug has, that there are more effective ways of communicating than crying.