Failing Motherhood

Whining + Screaming: MAKE IT STOP

August 29, 2023 Danielle Bettmann | Parenting Coach for Strong-Willed Kids Episode 120
Failing Motherhood
Whining + Screaming: MAKE IT STOP
Show Notes Transcript

In nearly every coaching conversation this week this topic was brought up so it only made sense to talk about it here!

I break down what's happening if your child is using this behavior often, how to get ahead of it and how to break free of it by putting it in a box!


  • The two likely elements at play when a child is whining
  • Strategies to eliminate the need for the behavior
  • How to talk it out without escalation


  • Why it's more effective to allow the screaming than try to stifle it completely

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Danielle Bettmann  0:04  
Ever feel like you suck at this job? Motherhood I mean? Have too much anxiety and not enough patience. Too much yelling, not enough play. There's no manual, no village, no guarantees. The stakes are high. We want so badly to get it right. But this is survival mode, we're just trying to make it to bedtime. So if you're full of mom guilt, your temper scares you. You feel like you're screwing everything up, and you're afraid to admit any of those things out loud. This podcast is for you. This is Failing Motherhood. I'm Danielle Bettmann. And each week, we'll chat with a mom ready to be real. Sharing her insecurities, her fears, your failures and her wins. We do not have it all figured out. That's not the goal. The goal is to remind you, you are the mom your kids need. They need what you have, you are good enough. And you're not alone. I hope you pop in earbuds, somehow sneak away and get ready to hear some hope from the trenches. You belong here, friend, we're so glad you're here. 

Hey, it's Danielle. If you're new here, I am a positive discipline certified coach for families with strong-willed kids. Together, we uplevel the way that you communicate so you're as equipped as a hostage negotiator, we reinforce the strength of your patience and we create long lasting behavior change in your child by solving the root of their behavior at the source. Going into its third year. My program Wholeheartedly CALM is an intimate three month high level group coaching program for families with those specific goals who know they need more than a book. 

So welcome, if this is your first episode, I am knee deep in conversations this week that have been all about whining and screaming and overall dysregulation because that is right on time, we are in the midst of back to school meltdown season. I don't know, I know, it's different all around the states. Some of my friends started like August 6, some are, it's starting until September 6. But either way, inevitably, you're going to have tired kids, and you're going to experience some dysregulation and some whining and screaming during this season. So it made sense for me to be able to talk to you, my podcast clients about this specifically and share a little bit about what I've been talking to my clients about this week. 

So we know, if a behavior like whining is happening, sometimes it's just the absolute exception to the rule because there is nothing else your child can do in that situation at 10pm at night, and you know, they we just need to get them to sleep. That's one thing. But when there is a pattern of whining, where it's happening multiple times a day or every single day at the same time, and one of your kids, it's just their go to and it is like nails on a chalkboard for you understandably, then you want to be able to get ahead of it all get to the root of why this is happening. 

We know behavior is communication, every behavior is working for them in some way, there is a point to it, not necessarily a conspiratorial manipulative motive, but it is subconsciously there for a reason. So it we need to know why. And with whining, especially at this time of year, there is two things happening most likely. One is that piece of their their nervous system and their psychological needs, their physical needs, their emotional needs are being taxed, they are overwhelmed. They are overstimulated and they might be hangry most likely exhausted. So there's some element that is zapping their capacity not making them themselves. The other element is that it is communicating something and they have more to say which we know because they are kind of saying it kind of yelling it to kind of murmuring it and like some weird exasperated tone. So we know that we're trying they're trying to say something. But that's the whole point. If we're trying to eliminate this behavior at its root. We need to make those things verbal. We need to let them out and get them said. If something is left unsaid, then there's a motive and a reason that in their mind makes that whining, justified, necessary. That makes sense. 

So for looking at this as a well rounded, comprehensive, needs-based problem-solving approac, we know, everything is nuanced, every situation needs to be individualized, every kid is different. And there are some overarching principles that might help. So with this whining pattern that you've gotten into with your child, you can in the moment have those boundaries that says, I can't hear you in that voice. Fight, please say it with words. But if you share that boundary too late, they're already into that avatar mode that like Alter Ego, that is glazed over eyes, you're not getting through to them, they're not even hearing you, because they're so dysregulated. You want to be able to either prevent it or defuse it before it starts. And usually you can tell with your child, that they're already in that somewhat irritated state, that this is a bound to happen. So you want to beat them to it. And the way that you do that is Mid- pausing enough to make sure that they know you heard them, they know you get it, they feel sufficiently satisfied. That the message that you're trying to send was received. And most often, that's not the case. Right? We are so adamant about our kids listening to us. But we are not good listeners to them. If we're being honest. They have things to say. They have worries, they have concerns, they have fears, they want to get off their chest, and we don't give them adequate ability to do that in a safe shared space where they really do actually have our attention. 

So if you can just pause real quick and be like, oh, sorry, I didn't hear you. What was that and getting down at their eye level? Oh, boy. Okay, say that again. Oh, okay. Okay. You really didn't like that. Got it? Oh, you. You really don't want to do this. I hear you. Oh, he he hit you. Wow. Yep. No one in her house deserves to be to be harmed or treated that way. Oh, what you're saying is, you're having a hard time that this feels like a lot. This is the last thing you want to do? Got it. totally hear you. You. You have to meet them there first and make sure. Okay, tell me more. Was there anything else that you wanted to say? And you can even jot it down? Okay, let me make sure I got it. I just want to make sure I heard you. Let me write this down. Grab a piece of paper. Okay, start over nope, slow down. What was that? And if you can just take this little bit longer time to hear them out. 

It still doesn't change anything. Your boundaries in your rules are there, your expectations are still going to be upheld. And you're going to segue into that limit and their current options. But if you can hear them out first, then you're eliminating the need in their mind to defend themselves to escalate, to continue to be a broken record, and reiterate over and over and over, that they're mad that they didn't like something or that they wanted a snack or whatever it is. And you don't have to be around a strong willed child very long to realize transitions out of emotions are very hard for them. They have a very hard time with with getting unstuck, moving on snapping out of it. Being able to get themselves out of the rut, they get stuck in a gear. So when they're whining or when they're screaming, they get stuck in that gear. And they're already at a place where nothing's getting through to them, it's almost impossible to get them to stop. And that's where we resort to those desperate measures of threats and bribes. And we start to get really dysregulated ourselves and it's a downhill downhill slope trains off the tracks. 

What you want to do is realize this, catch yourself and catch them early on. Hear them out sufficiently, then share the limit or the problem and what current options are available. Right so that looks like saying, Oh, I hear you. You don't want meatloaf for dinner tonight. That's the last thing you want. You would rather have ice cream. Candy cotton candy. What else? If you got to cook dinner tonight? What would you have? Oh my gosh. Yes. You love chocolate bars. How many chocolate bars could you actually eat before you ethic? 16 Oh my My gosh, there's no way I could only like five.

Oh, I know. Candy is so sweet and so good, it makes sense, right? They're not wrong or bad for having these big feelings. And you just need to help them understand and come back to reality about what the current options are. Now, so that's when instead of negating everything that you just talked about you say, and, and it is time for dinner. And we're having meatloaf. Would you rather have green beans with the meatloaf, or fries with meatloaf? You decide. Let me know when you're ready to make that choice. Or, and it is time for dinner. We are having meatloaf. But I really need your help setting the table. Can you get the napkins or the forks? Which one would you rather get? And you'll be surprised when they've been sufficiently heard out. And they feel like we listen to them. They're much more ready to move on, make a choice and accept the current reality. But they stay so stuck when they're not. They're not feeling heard. They're not feeling understood. That is one of the hugest cracks is credit crunches...problems that families are strong-willed kids really struggle with. And it makes sense because we struggle with that in all our relationships. But if you can beat them to the punch, make sure they know you know, you get it. And everything gets said nothing gets left unsaid. Everybody can move on. And you'll be surprised how cooperative they can be on the other side of that. 

The other thing I'll share here is with screaming. Screaming is just an escalated version of whining, right even more dysregulated even more angry, past that point of no return, and still trying to communicate something that has been left unsaid. They feel even more justified even more necessary that they act that way. Because you have, it's almost like in their mind that like you made me get to this point, because you haven't been listening to me. So same rules apply. But maybe it's harder to get that behavior to stop, it's easier to put that behavior in a box. And what I mean by that is, if they're going to be screaming for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, you it's easier to get that behavior down to five minutes than it is to stop that behavior entirely. Especially if you don't have that runway of prevention in place. 

So what you can do is share with your child, hey, you know what even have a really hard time after school lately. And I have so many other suggestions that would go to my clients about how to make that transition easier after school and what to do. Biggest one being do something in the car that isn't talking or expecting a lot out of each other. Bring a snack if you can, and put on music or an audio book, so that it just stabilizes the sanity and helps everybody regulate. But that's an aside. So with the screaming, let them know, hey, next time you just really, really have such big feelings. You don't want to talk anymore, and you want to get your screams out. I'm going to set a timer. Would you rather that timer be three minutes or four minutes? Four minutes, okay. But then we need to decide together? What is going to happen when the timer goes off. When the timer goes off, would you rather get a drink of water and blow your nose or get a big hug and take it and take some deep breaths with me? Right? Or something that is helping model some co regulation and some emotional coping strategies. But you decided this ahead of time and let them choose one of my clients to speak their child chose blowing some bubbles outside. Great. Okay. So all right, you start your screams, I'm going to start to set the timer on the microwave for four minutes. As soon as the timer goes off, it's time to blow bubbles outside. 

And it's a lot easier to get to do that than to get her to not escalate at all. Because you're putting that behavior in a little box and you're putting some boundaries around it. It's also okay to put up some boundaries like you know, we can't let you scream at the table. Can't let you scream next to your brother or sister. I can't let you hurt everyone's ears. Can you just take that to your room or somewhere else? It's okay to have those boundaries around their behavior, sometimes they're just going to be a pressure cooker that has to release the energy somehow. And there's really nothing you can do, that's the best thing you can do is just kind of hold that boundary so that they can let it all out. And other times, the way that you're communicating isn't working. And it's a symptom of a bigger issue, a bigger disconnect, and maybe your relationship or just their toolkit in general. 

So have a conversation about it. That's a huge piece of my program is coming up with plans, collaborative problem solving with your child. I'm basically spoiling all of the program in this episode. But I'm, I think it's a great lens, into the tools I share and the conversations we have, and what that problem solving can look like. Because how you react in the moment, it's still only one piece in the puzzle. And it's actually the least influential piece, you have much more influence over behavior, in all the prevention that leads up to it, and all the circling back that can happen before it happens again. 

So just know, some of those moments are survival mode, focus on your own regulation, so you have something to give them when they're ready for your help. And you will make it through when you feel equipped and have the confidence to be that leader in this relationship. If you feel like they're the one leading if you're held hostage in your home, and they're the ones setting the tone, and you don't know what's gonna set them off next, and you're walking on eggshells. And you're just not able to get ahead of some of these dynamics because they the next wave crashes before you've recovered from the last one. Okay, that's why I'm here. So I have a job. You're in the right place. Let's have a conversation. 

When you're ready to transform your relationship with your strong-willed child and enlist the help of a parenting coach that does this and only this thing. Go ahead, find those links in the show notes. You know how to find me. I'm excited to have that conversation and get to know you. All right, have you back to school and early bedtimes early bedtime. Can't forget to mention that all of the early bedtimes because nothing helps parenting strategy wise. If you're just dealing with a chronically overtired kid, and that is quite often the case. So early bedtimes pay off that sleep debt, and if you need help with that, most likely a sleep consultant is not going to help if you're dealing with pushback throughout the entire day to it's just one symptom of the bigger issue. Let's deal with it all at once. Right. So we'll have that conversation. Alright, cheers. See you next week. 

Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of Failing Motherhood. Your kids are so lucky to have you. If you loved this episode, take a screenshot right now and share it in your Instagram stories and tag me. If you're loving the podcast, be sure that you've subscribed and leave a review so we can help more moms know they are not alone if they feel like they're failing motherhood on a daily basis. And if you're ready to transform your relationship with your strong willed child, and invest in the support you need to make it happen. Schedule your free consultation using the link in the show notes. I can't wait to meet you. Thanks for coming on this journey with me. I believe in you, and I'm cheering you on.

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