Why do children whine?

Why do children whine?

Parenting is not an easy task. It is becoming a real challenge to raise kids these days, than ever before. One of the challenges that parents face is that of children whining. Children tend to whine whenever they want and for whatever they want.

The dictionary defines whining as ‘to make a long, high, sad sound’. It has now been scientifically proven that the sound of a child whining is one of the most irritating and distracting sounds on this earth and any parent will vouch for this fact. Whining starts when a child first develops speech. Research also suggests that children between the ages of 2-4 tend to whine more. So why does a child whine and what can parents do about it?

  1. For attention: One of the main reasons that children whine is for attention. They may feel neglected for some reason and want their parent’s attention. They need to feel that they are cared for and loved as this gives them a sense of security. So, to draw the attention of the parent, children sometimes whine.  

What you can do: In such a case, it is best to offer comfort to your child. A cuddle or a hug can do wonders. Just be with them and tend to their immediate need of comfort.

  1. To express a real need: When a child whines they are expressing some real need. They may be hungry or sleepy or are just plain tired. They will start whining as they are not able to express their needs verbally.  

What you can do: Ask yourself, is your child hungry or tired? Did he or she get enough sleep? Is this just a sign of crankiness due to lack of sleep? Once you have figured out what the problem is you can address the same. In a calm tone, ask them if they would like to eat or maybe go to sleep. Encourage them to ask for what they want in a gentle and calm manner. You can also help phrase the question for them. For example, if you want them to ask you for a glass of water, tell them how to do so. Tell them that they must ask “Mummy, I am feeling thirsty. Can I have a glass for water please?” Then address this need.

  1. To feel connected: When children whine, it is an indication that parents need to connect with the child. This makes the child feel secure. Research indicates that children who come from families that fight a lot tend to whine a lot. The need here is an emotional need to connect and feel reassured.

What you can do: Ask yourself if you have been sending quality time with your child. Have you been neglecting them recently? Has work taken priority over everything else? Are you arguing a lot with your spouse? Are you stressed and is it rubbing off on to your kids? These issues are easy to address. Set apart some quality time with your kids. Take a break and enjoy some “me time” with them. Indulge in a hobby or go for a walk in the park with them. When your child feels reassured, the whining will come down. In short, build a time to connect with them.


  • To manipulate: Some parents feel that they are manipulated by their own kids. They resort to whining when they don’t get what they want. They will yell and scream till parents succumb to their tantrums and give in to their demands. Children also tend to repeat this habit when their parents give in to their whining as they see it as a means of getting what they want.


What you can do: It is important to be firm and not get overwhelmed by the situation. Stay consistent and do not give in, not even once in a while. If you give in once a while when your child whines, it’s sending out a message to your child that their whining will eventually get to you. So stay consistent. A no should always be a no.


Managing a whining kid is not an easy task. However, it is important to address this issue with a lot of tact, gentleness, patience and understanding so that you can build a strong emotional bond with your child. The more comfortable and secure a child feels, the lesser would be their tendency to whine in the future.


Good luck and happy parenting!

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