Last Updated on January 13, 2020 by Creative Parenting
Does listening to kids whining drive you CRAZY?
There’s good news….
It doesn’t have to.
At least not as much as you think it does.
And if you’re tired of some of the same tired old advice then keep reading….
You know what I’m talking about.
The type of advice that seem quaint.
30 or 40 years old.
Not so suited to hectic life.
In this busy, modern age.
As parents today, we’re always rushing from one thing to the next.
So it’s no surprise when this stress rubs off on our kids.
Even if it’s just their own stress.
They’ll probably whine or complain.
About something at some point.
Perhaps it’s started?
For you already?
Or maybe you’ve been dealing with it for years?
Here’s a few steps. Insights we’re using to find our inner ZEN.
Which comes in handy to manage your own reactions to the inevitable…
…What’s better than not having to listen to whining?
Knowing that when the complaining starts:
It’s not going to phase you.
Because you’ll be in such a place of zen that nothing can really rattle you.
Will these tips magically take you there?
They can help set you on the right path…
After all, once you’re on the path, maintaining ZEN is a process of constant renewal.
Let’s get started!
Listen To What They Are Trying To Tell You
We humans all have needs – think Maslow’s hierarchy.
And our little loved ones have them too.
There’s a key difference though…
They have to deal with something we don’t:
They can’t tell us what it is they’re trying to communicate.
Maybe they’re only starting to learn a few words.
Or maybe they’re quite the talker.
But the words they do know aren’t the most sophisticated ones
(to express emotion).
My point is:
Whenever they start to complain, or whine, there’s a good chance it’s because of some underlying
cause or desire.
Keep reading for how to figure this out…
That’s why I like to use three quick questions to check myself.
And use this to navigate my response:
Do they have an immediate need RIGHT NOW that you can address?
Are they hungry/tired/upset/hurt?
Can you use this as an opportunity to help them develop their communication skills?
Chance’s are, their emotional response can relate to one of those questions.
Once you’ve done that, it’s next a matter of thinking about what they’re most upset about FIRST.
Because you gotta figure out that before you can meet all they’re other needs.
Figure Out What’s Top Of Their Mind
Anybody who’s been a parent for any length of time can relate to this.
When your first kid arrives, it’s a total jolt.
Taking care of a human.
Meeting their needs.
The good news is:
When they are young, there’s a set amount of needs that need to be met.
It’s just a matter of figuring out what’s most bothering them.
In other words:
What’s on the top of their minds.
That’s why I like to think of it as a mental checklist.
Which I alluded to above, i.e.
In short, it’s using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs:
Are their physical needs met?
Do they feel safe?
Are they feeling loved/that they belong?
Did something negatively affect their self-esteem?
Are they reaching their potential?
(This isn’t an exhaustive list of questions but I think you get the idea).
Figure out which of those is bothering them the most.
You’ll then be ready to tackle the others next (if they need to be tackled).
Start at the top of the list – the bottom of the pyramid- and work your way down.
Then you can focus on:
The higher needs on Maslow’s chart: self-actualization and the like.
They want to feel you are there for them.
They want to feel they’re in a safe environment.
They want to feel loved by the people closest to them.
They want to feel like they belong: to a family or community.
… so if it isn’t one of the core physical needs, which of the needs related to self-actualization is it?
And what can you do to meet those needs?
Now, granted, kids aren’t going to be aware of Maslow’s hierarchy.
And they’re certainly NOT going to just tell you:
“My self-esteem was hurt today”
Wouldn’t that be nice if they did?
It would take away a lot of the detective work…
But investigating what’s going on with your kid more thoroughly than Sherlock Holmes is sometimes a parent’s job.
Because they’re still developing (of course).
And that includes:
Their brains. And brain synapses.
Those connections aren’t developed…. yet.
So as parents, we sometimes have to help nudge things along and make those connections for them.
So up next?
Here are some ideas (based on the questions above):
Remember: They’ve Got A Lotta Years For Their Brain Synapses To Develop
Let’s face it:
Nearly everybody whines.
And adults too.
Sure, there are exceptions.
Some people pride themselves on not complaining.
Maybe you’re one of them?
Even if you are…
I bet you’ve complained at some point.
So sure, even when we don’t want to listen to our kids complain, we’re complaining ourselves.
The good news is we can recognize when we do this. And stop the cycle.
And after we do that?
We can teach our kids how to too.
This is a valuable life skill to learn. The consensus used to be that our brains didn’t change much
as we age. But that’s changed.
Now we know. We can form new synapses even into adulthood. And learning how to do this as adults is the first step to teach our kids how to too.
Are you laser focused on learning strategies to cope with negative emotions?
For yourself, AND your kids?
If YES. Well done!
Then keep reading…
Repeat This Mantra: “They’re Not Social Sophisticates”
There’s something we parents tend to forget a lot:
Kids aren’t socially savvy.
“No kidding!” I can almost hear you say.
Ask yourself this:
How often do we parents really remember this.
I mean really remember.
And respond to their needs at the level that they’re at?
Especially for the really young ones. Have you ever caught yourself in this situation?
Tired from a long day of work. Rushing to fix dinner. And expecting your 2 year old to act like a 9
Unrealistic, isn’t it?
Take a moment. Repeat the mantra. Remember they’re still developing their social skills.
Let ‘Em Giggle, Scream, and Cry…While You Exude Zen
Now that we’ve got a reminder that our little ones are not social sophisticates, let’s focus on getting in a Zen space.
It’s a magic word really. Once you get to a zen place the world seems so….peaceful.
The key is figuring out how to get there.
On a a regular basis.
And then stay there.
Now, there’s not really a magical way to get there.
I’ve tried several different approaches over the years.
Meditation. Yoga. Mindfulness. Exercise. Singing.
I could go on…
At the end of the day, they really all boil down to one thing:
Intense. Focused. Mindful breathing. The kind that gets you out of your headspace and into the present moment.
Into your zen.
There are a million ways to make it happen. To get there. And it’s all about HOW you breathe.
In my experience: It’s about making sure your OUT breath is deeper than your in breath.
Guru’s might tell you otherwise. But that’s what I’ve found to work best.
So try it?
Do some mindful breathing. Exhale deeper than your inhale.
And once you’ve got it down:
Try it with this mantra.
When You Say No, Say I Love You
This one’s key.
It’s all about finding the parenting balance.
Where the zen is.
Because just saying “No!” all the time gets old.
And your kids.
Here’s an idea.
Modify it a bit!
First, say YES (more often than you do now)…
I once read an article about a parent doing this on a Saturday morning…
Decided just to say YES to anything the kid wanted. With some restrictions (like no to anything crazy expensive or dangerous).
An interesting and FUN morning. Turned out the kid just wanted to do a bunch of random kid stuff. Nothing totally crazy, but you know, not what you’d usually do on Saturday at 7 a.m.
After you get in the habit of saying yes more, then add the next thing:
Add “I love you” to saying no.
It makes you less of a downer news deliverer.
It reinforces the connection
After all, when they’re acting up (resulting in us saying NO) it usually for a reason…
And no matter the reason it pays to reinforce the parent child connection.
Last but not least.
Even though 18-20 years of living with our kids feels like a long time when you’re going through
It really isn’t.
1 year goes by. Then 2. Then 5.
You start to realize:
Only a few years till they move out.
And that can feel exciting at times!
So enjoy it.
While it lasts.
Strive every day to:
Be present in every moment.
Make a connection with them. Every chance you get.
The grandparent version of you.
And for your kids…
And a relationship with YOU.