I would get so irritated when my kids would get clingy and whiny right as I started trying to do anything productive. It almost seemed as though any time I tried to start the dishes or work on the laundry, the kids would do things they’re not supposed to do, they would whine at me, they would just get ridiculous and it drove me nuts.

I was not about to get on board with just, “Well, I guess my kids are just like this.” No. I wanted to get to the bottom of it. I wasn’t about to go through this every time I tried to do something productive for the next however many years while they “learn how to behave”. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for. There had to be another way.

I prayed a lot about it, specifically for wisdom. My first realization was that my kids aren’t out to get me. They have basic needs and as long as those needs are met, they’re fine. So what could they possibly need? I’ve fed them, they’re not tired, no dirty diapers, I’ve even put toddler mind-numbing videos on the TV to entertain them while I try to get things done. What could they possibly need?!

I started with the idea that maybe they just need some attention. So anytime my almost 3-year-old, 40-pound tank whined at me “Up! Up!” I would stop what I was doing and give him one-on-one attention for five or 10 minutes. I did this intentionally for just a few days—and it filled him. It sustained him. After his one-on-one time with mom, he would go a play on his own. He might still come to me for affirmation over something he colored or something he’s discovered, but it wasn’t a whiny, needy toddler coming at me. The same thing happened with my daughter. I would do something like read her one book and then she would “read” the rest of the stack herself.

I was free! But more importantly, my babies’ needs were filled.

They were happy and not just entertained. Their needs were met and not just distracted. My house was starting to become less of an irritable, whiny environment. And more importantly, I got so much done!

The next time your kids get super whiny or clingy or, let’s be real, downright irritating—it could be as simple as them just needing you.

Your kids aren’t out to get you.

Let’s make sure their most basic needs are met and not forget that sometimes, that need is connection, affirmation, and just being heard.

You may also like: 

Two-Year-Olds Aren’t Terrible, They’re Just Trying to Understand Life

But Mommy, You Were Too Busy

Dear Toddler, Thank You For Loving Me at my Most Unlovely

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Laura Lederman

I'm a Texas mom of two with one on the way. I'm in the thick of toddler mayhem and love every bit of it.