Rage, Rage Against The Whining Of The Child

June 2, 2010

may skateboards etc 092Emilia is not a morning person. I am also not a morning person, but as an adult I recognize that I don’t have any choice in the matter of whether or not I get out of bed, and also I have coffee. Emilia is a child, and she doesn’t drink coffee, so she’s oftentimes – and read ‘oftentimes’ as ‘pretty much almost always’ – cranky in the morning. I would be sympathetic about this – as I said, I’m not a morning person myself, so I get it – except that her way of coping with mornings is to whine like a banshee. A sugar-jacked freak-banshee with no off button.

Mommmmeeee! I want toast! But no butter! NO BUTTER MOMMY! NO BUTTER! And don’t make it warm! It’s TOO WARM MOMMMEEEE! IT’S TOO WARRMMMM! OOOOH! WHY DO I NEVER GET TOAST THE WAY I LIKE IT?!?

She whimpers, heartbroken by the lack of unwarm, unbuttered toast in our house. WHYYYY, MOMMY? WHYYYY? I grip the counter and resist tossing the bread in the sink and/or hollering something about starving children in Africa.

Why can’t I eat my toast with the television, Mommy? WHY? Why do I have to sit here? Where’s Daddy? I’m cold. I want socks. You said it was summer, Mommy! WHY ISN’T IT SUMMER MOMMMMY?!?! OOOOH! YOU SAID IT WAS SUMMER!

And then:

I thought you were making me not-warm toast, Mommy! MOMMY! I DON’T WANT TO SIT HERE – whimpers, sniffles – WHERE’S DADDY? WHY DOES JASPER HAVE SOCKS ON? WHY DON’T I HAVE SOCKS ON? WHYDON’TIHAVESOCKSONWHERE’SMYTOAST?!? MOMMMMEEE!

I don’t have a temper. I’m as mild-mannered as they come. There are kittens who get angrier than I do. There are kittens on Xanax that get angrier than I do. But five minutes of my four year old whining about unwarm toast and missing socks and I’m pressing my fingernails into the beds of my palms and sucking in my cheeks and willing myself to just not yell oh god don’t be the mom who yells DO NOT YELL DO NOT YELL -

EMILIA ELIZABETH ANN YOU WILL EAT YOUR TOAST YOU WILL SIT THERE WHILE YOU EAT IT I WILL GET YOUR SOCKS AFTER BREAKFAST STOP ASKING FOR YOUR FATHER *NOW*.

And then, if I’m really undercaffeinated, I stomp my foot.

And I feel ashamed. I yelled, and I became that mom. That mom who yells, for no good reason, just because the whining hurts her head and she hasn’t had enough coffee and it’s too early and where are my manservants and GOD, Husband, WILL YOU JUST GET OUT OF THE SHOWER ALREADY. And I know that when the whining starts up again, I might do it again. And then I will feel ashamed, again.

If I’m honest with myself, it’s not the yelling that unnerves and shames me. I’m raising my voice, but as I said, I’m an extremely mild-mannered person and anything more than a fractional decibel above friendly conversation feels like yelling. And I know this. I know that in the category of displays of anger’ my children aren’t seeing much. It’s that I feel the anger. I feel angry at my children. Viscerally, irrationally angry. And that feeling? I hate that feeling. I am made uncomfortable by that feeling. Every fiber of my being screams out against that feeling. Not because I fear it – I mean, do fear it, in the sense that it feels so unfamiliar and foreign and wrong, but I don’t fear losing control of it, inasmuch as ‘losing control of temper,’ for me, would mean crying and stomping one foot, lightly, and then only if I was really, really pushed. No, I hate it because I am so used to not feeling it, that deeply visceral experience of anger or frustration – or, if I do feel it, pushing it almost immediately away – and because the idea of being angry, really angry, really unreasonably angry, with my children horrifies me.

I grew up in a household wherein nobody got angry, not really. Or, I should say, nobody expressed their anger. My parents would get mad, at times, but they always expressed those feelings clearly and more or less calmly and they always apologized if they raised their voices. I can remember, with perfect clarity, the only time that my dad ever yelled, really yelled, at me – I can still hear the break in his voice, the catch in his words, as clearly as if it were just moments ago; it so obviously upset him more than it did me that the memory still breaks my heart – and that was during the period of one of his breakdowns. My parents never raged, never stormed, never screamed. And they were adept at diffusing my upsets – my dad would hug me; my mom would try to make me laugh – and so I never had to confront rage, never had to tackle it and defeat it and – here’s the rub – understand it. So. It confuses me, upsets me. And I wonder whether I mightn’t have been better off if I’d been exposed to it a little more. If I’d felt it a little more.

So should I let my kids see when I’m angry? I don’t know. They’re well in touch with their tempers, and I roll with that and let them have those tempers and encourage them to express their feelings in whatever (harmless) way feels right to them. Which makes me wonder whether I need to get more comfortable with my own anger, to find ways to feel less anxious about expressing it, to accept it as part of the landscape of my emotions and let it have its place. And to recognize that when something – like, say, incessant whining – triggers it, it’s okay to let it rumble through me and even work its way down to a foot stomp or two.

Or maybe someone just needs to come up with some kind of kid-safe whine-repellent and send me a case. I don’t know. What do you think?

(And, since we’re all friends here, answer me this: I’m not the only one who sometimes gets driven batshit by the whining, right? I can’t be, right? RIGHT? How do you cope? It’s like a thousand fingernails running down a thousand blackboards with the soundtrack to Monkey ScreechFest 2000 – complete with monkey guitar feedback – blaring in the background at full volume, isn’t it? Maybe I just need earplugs.)

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    { 120 comments }

    Elizabeth Flora Ross June 2, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Whining has to be my biggest pet peeve. Well no, my biggest pet peeve is parents who whine at their children and then don’t understand why their children whine. That’s obviously not your problem.

    I can really relate. I try SO hard not to yell and get angry. My daughter can’t even talk yet and she whines. And she’s in the tantrum stage. Big time. It is almost always caused my her being tired or hungry. I go for the quick fix (read snack) almost every time. If it’s really bad, I walk away and take a moment. But don’t think I don’t lose it sometimes, because I do.

    It just makes you human, not a bad mom! And all the positive moments you have w/your children make up for a few negative ones.

    Mamanoodle June 2, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    My rule is that the two year old can whine or cry but he has to leave the room! I understand that he does not have the emotional control to stop always but he can do it where he won’t make me bananas! He usually goes over to he stairs for a bit, composes himself and we both feel better when he comes back :)

    emily June 2, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    @Mamanoodle, We have this rule, too! With the older ones (8 and 5) they can whine and throw tantrums up in the rooms. I think it’s a great rule!
    .-= emily´s last blog ..Right Now =-.

    Catherine June 3, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    @emily, I’ve tried the ‘only whine in your room’ thing but it makes her whine more ABOUT HAVING TO GO TO HER ROOM and then the whole thing escalates. Maybe I’m doing it wrong?
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Rage, Rage Against The Whining Of The Child =-.

    emily June 3, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    @Catherine, Oh, they do that for a while. I turn my back and ignore them…maybe 30 seconds later (and after a Look-That-Would-Make-Paint-Peel from me) they stomp up and slam the door. Then they move on to straight stomping & slamming. It’s kinda funny.

    My oldest (who is 8 now) almost never whined until she hit about 6yrs old…with her, I claimed I couldn’t understand a word she said. That’s not working with my 5yo, who is a champion whiner. So I don’t know…I think it differs kid-to-kid.
    .-= emily´s last blog ..Right Now =-.

    liz June 2, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    I have this issue too. One thing that works for us (when I remember to do it), is to tell our son to go back upstairs and come down to breakfast when he’s in a better mood. Or, if time is running out, to pack up his b’fast to eat in the car.
    .-= liz´s last blog ..Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Mysteriously Knowledgeable 8-year-old =-.

    emily June 2, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    OMG. You are SO not the only person driven batshit crazy by the whining. My 5yo is in a whine-all-the-time-about-everything stage, and I seriously want to duct tape him to the wall in his bedroom, soundproof it and run far away sometimes. I could tell him that we’re having fudge and ice cream for dinner and he’s whine “But I waaaaant Piiiiizaaaa!” and I lose it.

    I’m personally of the mindset that it’s ok to show anger. Anger is just another emotion, and one that kids need to learn to deal with. It’s *how* we show it- and how we deal with it- that’s key to me. I don’t know if this will help you, but I read in a book (How To Talk So Your Kids Will Listen) to raise your voice and tell them why you’re angry. So now, I’ll say “TWO, I AM REALLY MAD THAT YOU’RE WHINING SO MUCH. YOU NEED TO LEAVE THE ROOM. NOW.’ I get my yell out, but I don’t feel guilty about it when I’m done, ya know?

    Anyway. Hugs. BTDT, and I completely understand!
    .-= emily´s last blog ..Right Now =-.

    Ali June 3, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    @emily, Don’t give me ideas! Duct taping him to the wall sounds awesome. Right now it’s ‘mummy I’m hungry I need another biscuit and more raisins and I can’t sleep and I need a drink’ and oh Lord shut up!!!

    melissa June 2, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    :) this sounds like my house nearly EVERY morning. i also feel horrible because out of my 3 boys, there is one who sends me over the edge. his twin could whine the day away and i don’t know if i would even notice. but when he does it?? i feel the blood pressure rise, my breathing quicken, and i begin searching for something else to focus on so i don’t lose my temper. i also have major guilt feelings about my reactin to him. why don’t i react that way to his twin?? i don’t know what it is, but sometimes i have to say excuse me, go in to my room, close the door, and count to ten. i hate that i get so angry and haven’t figures out a solution to it yet:) if you figure one out, please, oh please, share with the rest of us!!

    Catherine June 3, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    @melissa, yeah. I have to give myself time-outs, too. Coffee cup in hand, of course.

    I’ll keep you posted if I come up with any better strategies.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Rage, Rage Against The Whining Of The Child =-.

    a June 2, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    I’m with emily above – anger is just as valid an emotion as any other. It won’t kill her to know that I get angry and why. But, I do try to make sure I explain to her what it is that is making me so irritable (i.e. she got up at 5:30 and she and I are both overtired). I also tell my daughter to stop whining and ask for what she wants. If she doesn’t ask properly, then I can’t hear her.

    I also agree with liz – if it’s morning, and someone is uncooperative, (time being of no concern – on school days, she can’t get a word in because I am constantly harassing her to finish breakfast, get dressed, put her shoes on, etc.), then someone gets to go back to bed until they feel like they can successfully deal with other people.
    .-= a´s last blog ..It’s Spring…time for home improvement projects! =-.

    tammy June 2, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Well, sometimes I announce that I have a whine-free zone, which interestingly enough always involves the space directly around me. I love my kids but I have a low tolerance for whining. By that I mean I have no tolerance for whining. And kids, at least kids in the circles I move in, ALWAYS whine at some point or another. It may be a contractual obligation on their side. On my side, teeth-gritting and deep breathing are the responses, but they don’t always suffice. I don’t fully understand why whining is as annoying to some of us as it is. You see mothers in the supermarket who seem to not even hear the whining of their kids. Maybe they’re just really good actresses.
    .-= tammy´s last blog ..A change in plan. =-.

    Catherine June 3, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    @tammy, whine-free zone! whine-free zone! YES.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Rage, Rage Against The Whining Of The Child =-.

    Steph June 2, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    I have a healthy temper. I have lost my shit with my kids and yelled. Not often but it has happened. I always feel bad about it. I call my mom crying. It’s almost always the whining that sets me off too. You’re not alone. I figure if I let my kids express their every emotion in a healthy way, then I can too. I don’t beat them, lock them in dark rooms, freak out about wire hangers, or any of the other horrible things people could do, so really in the end if I lose my shit and raise my voice rarely, is it going to kill them or injure them?

    My biggest pet peeve is “mommy” “mommy” “mommy” “Mooommmmy” “Mmmmooommm” OMG that drives me nuts and it’s never, ever ending. They don’t do it to their dad or their grandparents, but me? Constantly. I know I did it to my mom too because after about the bazillionth time my kids did it in one day I popped out with “mommy’s not here right now” and I remembered it came from her! Whenever I revert to saying something my mom said to me I cringe a little. Then I shrug it off and figure it’s probably my payment for being a little brat!
    .-= Steph´s last blog ..The Worst That Could Happen =-.

    oneluckymommy June 3, 2010 at 11:48 am

    @Steph, Thankfully, in general, I’m Ok with sounding like my mom – I think she did OK.

    “Mommy” “mommy” “mommy” “Mooommmmy” has just started for me with my toddler, however, and your post made me remember that the two responses I got from my mom for that were:
    “If you don’t stop that the answer is NO!”
    or
    “WHAT!” (with a look that could curl your hair, and *implied* that the answer was now going to be NO.)

    Gradually, these responses resulted in a “never mind” from me, as it was clear I had pushed it too far/poked the badger and was now getting doodly over squat.

    Catherine June 3, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    @oneluckymommy, I say ‘if you don’t stop that the answer is NO.’ She ignores me.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Rage, Rage Against The Whining Of The Child =-.

    Emily June 2, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    Whining really pushes my buttons. We have one daughter in particular who is really, really good at it–even at the age of 10. I send her to her room when I find I’m about to go postal. It keeps her safe and keeps me from doing something (or saying something) I may regret later. I know my limitations!
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: Memorial Day & a moment of silence =-.

    Steph June 2, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    @Emily, I have a 10 year old son who can out-whine his 3 year old little sister so I totally feel you!! At least at 10 they actually stomp off to their room when you tell them to because they’ve seen you lose it and know that’s not good. Now to break in the 3 y/o.
    .-= Steph´s last blog ..The Worst That Could Happen =-.

    Emily June 3, 2010 at 12:52 am

    @Steph, I so totally hear you! She can rock the house when she gets going. But you’re right…it’s nice when she can stomp off to her room because she knows the consequences if she doesn’t! The young ones are okay so far (2YO and 4YO) so I’m keeping my fingers crossed!
    .-= Emily´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: Memorial Day & a moment of silence =-.

    Linda June 2, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    There’s no excuse for whining. I have to remind my son (who thankfully does not whine often), that he is not undergoing a chemo treatment, and some other poor child is, so basically, “Stop that sh*t.”

    Yes, I know, swearing won’t win me any Mother of the Year awards, but he does respond (not in kind, thankfully).

    Catherine June 3, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    @Linda, you get an award from me. HIGH FIVE.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Rage, Rage Against The Whining Of The Child =-.

    Sara June 2, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Oh yeah Linda – I’ll battle you for Mother of the Year. Last night in a fit of whining and yelling – I lost it and yelled back, ‘stop yelling at me, it’s ridiculous.’ – umm hello pot calling the kettle black…

    oops.

    I usually just say ‘whining doesn’t work here’ and remarkably, he listens. I imagine this will happen for six more months or until I exit my constant state of drunkeness…which allows me to kid myself that he listens.
    .-= Sara´s last blog ..The good, the bad and the downright ugly….. =-.

    Issa June 2, 2010 at 3:44 pm

    I deal with this every single morning. I’m not a morning person, my oldest isn’t either. But hey, my little two sure are.

    I keep wondering how old she needs to be, before I just introduce her to the joys of coffee? Ten? Twelve maybe? Eight is probably too young right?

    On the frustration and yelling? I think in some respects it is good. It’s good to show kids that one can vent their frustrations, get it out and then? Then we feel better. Then, we can still talk. I personally think it helps to know that people aren’t perfect. That one can get angry and then move on. Just my two cents.
    .-= Issa´s last blog ..For the BlogHer newbies – Part one =-.

    Her Bad Mother June 3, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Eight is too young. Eight and a half, maybe.

    red pen mama June 2, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Well, I was going to write about my own whiny 5yo, but now I’m just going to send people here.

    The whining doesn’t so much make me angry as it… it… makes me feel irrational. I know regardless of my response to it, whether it’s going to be distraction or attempting to make her laugh or yelling (yes, yelling), it’s not going to work. Or if it does work, I will still have to do it again in 5 minutes or 2 days or 4 weeks. And that just makes me nuts. NUTS.

    I AM an emotional person; I rebelled against my own upbringing by very stoic people by being the drama queen (and still my little sister topped me), so I think it’s okay to express emotion, it’s important, and I certainly try to let my children express theirs. It’s just that sometimes for adults to express emotions with their kids is unproductive or counterproductive.

    For example, when my formerly potty-trained 3yo pees her pants right in front of me 10 minutes after I asked her to go on the potty, I am instantly enraged. (pregnancy hormones are not helping.) And that does no one any good. For one, getting angry does not make my 3yo want to go on the potty; it just scares her. For two, possibly, if the peeing is attention-seeking behavior, I’ve just reinforced it by raging at her.

    While I have no idea what I’m going to do about my 3yo, in the case of the whiny 5yo, the trick I am trying to use is the “normal voice” trick. As in, “Please ask me in a normal voice.” It usually works. I even, sometimes, “model” a voice, such as (in a plummy British accent): “Mother, dearest, may I get my toast with just butter please?” This tends to diffuse both of us.

    I do hate when my girls ask for their father, though. Because believe you me I would rather he be here, too.

    I’m sorry; I’ve rambled. I wish you luck not only with dealing with the whininess (it goes with the territory I’m afraid) but with your own comfort with your anger. That’s tough; and I have no advice on that front.
    .-= red pen mama´s last blog ..Regression =-.

    Her Bad Mother June 3, 2010 at 10:46 am

    “possibly, if the peeing is attention-seeking behavior, I’ve just reinforced it by raging at her.” I actually just read that this is true of dogs. Which means that it’s probably true of children.

    Her Bad Mother June 3, 2010 at 10:46 am

    right?

    Ahdra June 2, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Well, I’m no mother of the year contender, because your description of the limits of your temper is me on a good day…but one thing I do with my son is to “eat the crabbies” and then I make goofy faces and go about eating (tickling out) the crab-attitude with my pincer fingers and such. He cracks up and it usually turns things around if he’s in a mildly bad mood, or is on the verge of “deciding” to be in a crappy mood. Really bad mood? “Okay…you get to go up to your room until you’ve found a better attitude and decide to play on the family team.” Or, I just lose my shit. Depends on how many other buttons he’s pushed that morning already. I always try to tell him why mama is yelling and turning purple, and then, I try to apologize if I feel it is appropriate. But, I’m with the others on being okay with the full spectrum of emotions out of both sides.

    Catherine June 3, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    @Ahdra, I’m stealing ‘eat the crabbies.’
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Rage, Rage Against The Whining Of The Child =-.

    Miss Tricky June 2, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    There are only two things that are totally off limits for my four year old. One, whining; and Two, meanness.

    The whining mostly because it makes me feel mean and the meanness because it makes me whine to others and the cycle continues…

    You are NOT alone…
    .-= Miss Tricky´s last blog ..Skin Grafts before Defeat!! =-.

    redheadlaw7 June 2, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    I say let them see and experience any emotion that may run into down the road. You don’t want to shelter them too much from reality because at some point they’re going to have to cope with how other kids and grownups react. I have a temper and so does my husband…so my kids see occasional blowups. It helps when we tell my oldest how we try to calm ourselves down and deal with it. That way we are always trying to improve as a family.

    Erin June 2, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Oh, the never ending guilt that goes along with being a parent. You can’t win. If you gave into all her requests you would feel guilty for spoiling her, and if you stand your ground you feel like a bad guy.

    I do not get angry and yell very often. In fact with my son (now 13) it rarely happens. But with my daughter (now 15) it happens a lot. And my husband, he’s a yeller. So was my mom. I think that kids turn out okay in spite of everything we do. We need to stop beating ourselves up.
    .-= Erin´s last blog ..A Simple Thank-you =-.

    WestendMom June 2, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    Whining makes me want to tear my eyeballs out. I thought that nothing could make me more instantly crazed than the sounds of Mommmmmmeeeeeeeeeee, he is buuuuuggggggig meeeeeeeeeeeeeee….but then, my daughter discovered Miley Cyrus, and now I have “tone” to contend with as in “PULEASE, Mommy, you SO don’t KNOW what I mean”….and that, makes, me want to silmultaneously throttle her and weep sad, sad tears.

    Be angry, but explain why you are angry. i will yell without any regret that “YOU KIDS ARE MAKING ME CRAZY WITH YOUR WHINING”, but I feel really bad when I yell at them because I am mad about something else.

    Walking away from the whining is really the best thing to do…they loose their audience and you keep your sanity.

    Shannon June 2, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    Just this week I became the mom who pointed out there are people around the world without enough food to eat and my child should damn well eat pepperoni pizza and be happy about it. I feel like I also grew up in a home where very little anger was outright expressed but here’s the thing: I’m not so sure that is actually true. I suspect that the truth of it is moms like my mother feel as though they have yelled and screamed at their children beyond all reason when in fact they may have only spoken a little more sharply and loudly than usual and children frequently fail to absorb their parents freakouts. Sometimes they just don’t register. I think many times we are doing a better job keeping a lid on it than we think we are. Because as an adult I see my parents get frustrated and annoyed and even angry about different things but I never would have picked up on it as a child. Subtlety isn’t something most kids do too well. But when I walk around for a whole day feeling frustrated or angry by incessant whining I have already had several irrational and explosive tantrums in my head and so when a sharp “STOP THAT!” escapes my lips it feels a hundred times worse than it actually was. That’s what I think.
    .-= Shannon´s last blog ..Update on the War on Ants =-.

    Catherine June 3, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    @Shannon, that? was PROFOUNDLY helpful. we do, I think, exaggerate our own reactions when we reflect upon them.

    Of course, there are the parents who don’t realize they’re shouting, when they really are, so there’s that, too.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Rage, Rage Against The Whining Of The Child =-.

    EmilyM June 2, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    My daughter’s whining sends me into orbit and has been the catalyst of every. single. one. of the ugliest scenes in our house since she was born almost ten years ago. Like you, I am a patient, mild-mannered person and those ugly scenes are mild compared to what other children have to deal with, but it makes ME feel ugly to have participated in them. Whining is the Waterloo of Motherhood for me.

    Also, my daughter isn’t a morning person, either. If you get a lead on that whine-repellent, send some my way.

    Bren June 2, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Whining is to moms as kryptonite is to Superman. This is what I did with my son and do now with my already whining nieces and nephews and IT WORKS.

    When they come to you whining, no matter how difficult it is, crouch down with a big “I’m so glad you’re here” look on your face and when they finish their whine, look very puzzled and really really concerned and say “what, honey? Say it again.” They will whine it out again. Still with the “I have no other concerns in the world than what you want right now” and then look verrrry puzzled and say “Oh, honey, I really want to help you but I don’t speak Whinese! Tell me again.” And yes, they will whine it out AGAIN. The key for you is to pretend that there is not one thing on this green earth you want more than to address their concerns but you JUST DON’T SPEAK WHINESE.

    With one of my nieces I had to pretend that I was almost in tears because I didn’t understand her but you know what? She stopped when she “realized” I had NO IDEA WHAT SHE WAS SAYING (even though I wanted to shove the headband down her cute little maw) and she has never, not once, ever tried it on me again. She started to once and then the look of “oh yeah, she’s freakin’ clueless” came over her face and she spoke normally.

    I don’t think it’s too late to try with your daughter. I don’t think they even realize what they are doing – sort of like picking a wedgie – sometimes you just don’t realize it’s all hanging out there for everyone to see.

    Of note – my son has NEVER whined after that first day. Not that he – or *I* – are all that special. I think it’s just that kids WANT to be understood and if you make it such that it just ain’t gonna happen, they will change their delivery.

    Hang in, Momma!
    .-= Bren´s last blog ..Simply Thanks treat holder =-.

    red pen mama June 3, 2010 at 9:55 am

    @Bren, oooh, I’m going to try this one, too.
    .-= red pen mama´s last blog ..Regression =-.

    lib June 3, 2010 at 11:24 am

    @Bren, My mom did this when I whined as a child, and it works SO well. “I’m sorry, I just don’t understand you when you’re whining.” Like magic!

    Sheri Bheri June 3, 2010 at 11:55 am

    @Bren, I’m right there with you, I just don’t understand whining. Sometimes I’ll give my 5 y/o The Look and say “Do you want to try that again with a nice voice?”

    I think it’s important to realize WHY they’re whining too. For Emilia, is it possible that she’s really Hungry? My Zoe gets completely irrational when she’s hungry and she can not be any other way until she’s had some juice or SOMETHING. I’ve even resorted to chocolate for a quick pick-me-up for her. What if you started Emilia off with a yogourt drink or a glass of juice, right away, as soon as she sits down? Just one more idea to try.

    Catherine June 3, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    @Bren, I tweeted your Kryptonite remark, and I totally want it on a t-shirt.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Rage, Rage Against The Whining Of The Child =-.

    rachel June 2, 2010 at 6:54 pm

    Unwarm, unbuttered toast? Sounds a lot like plain bread to me. Maybe she should start eating plain bread for breakfast.

    No kids yet, but I imagine whining will drive me apeshit crazy.

    Catherine June 3, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    @rachel, yeah, try telling her that. “BUT IT’S NOT CRISPPPPYYYYY!!!”
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Rage, Rage Against The Whining Of The Child =-.

    Rachel June 3, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    @Catherine, she wants cold toast without butter? what kind of crazy child have you given birth to? haha

    Her Bad Mother June 4, 2010 at 9:41 am

    She doesn’t want it COLD – that’s important to note. It has to be somewhere around room temperature, and crispy, but not warm. Also: crust cut off.

    Ms. Whiteplates June 2, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    On a good day I am able to say, “you know mommy doesn’t respond to that, sweetheart. If you want Mommy’s help, try again.” On a bad day, “Nico. Enough. I’ve had it. mumble (expletive) murmle, murmle” and my sweet little boy (brother to the serial whiner) pipes up with a, “mommy, don’t say shit.”

    Yup. Batshit crazy when the kids whine. I really like Bren’s idea of the whinese, it’s brilliant. You have the patience of a saint. I always feel just horrific if I lose my temper with the kids.

    A few months ago I was in Vancouver with my kids, in-laws (including my husband’s sister) and we were in the huge market on the island. My little girl is making this “wah wah blah” kind of noise and whipping her head around à la The Exorcist and I just need to ask if she wants to go with her Nanny and Grandad to their hotel. I had her by the elbows, saying her name over and over again, gradually getting louder and louder. Did I mention that my husband was back in Nova Scotia? I stood up and she finally answered. This lovely woman leaned over, placed a a gentle hand on my arm ad said, “It’s happens to all of us. No worries. I always hated being that mom too, but it happens.” She smiled and went back to her coffee and wandered off. I don’t think she even knows how much that meant to me, I almost cried. I think what is more important is that we shouldn’t stare at other moms and recognize that when our kids are behaving its because they are showing off, we shouldn’t strut our stuff at this time. Be happy it’s not your kids, but just as easily, your kid could be that tyrant.
    .-= Ms. Whiteplates´s last blog ..Fun with Leftovers: A Take on Chicken "Alfredo" =-.

    Catherine June 3, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    @Ms. Whiteplates, oh, wow, YES. what that mom did for you was TREMENDOUS. would that we all could make a special effort to do exactly that kind of thing as often as we can.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Rage, Rage Against The Whining Of The Child =-.

    Chrissy June 2, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    I think we have to become hormonal T-Rex’s sometimes. Otherwise we’d let it simmer and stew and eventually would blow our g.d. tops the eff off. And that would be even uglier than a stomped foot or a cranky face or (in my usual instance) eyes closed teeth clenched and a “sohelpmeGod.”

    Catherine June 3, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    @Chrissy, aaaaand there’s ANOTHER t-shirt I want: I AM A HORMONAL T-REX SOHELPMEGOD
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Rage, Rage Against The Whining Of The Child =-.

    Chrissy June 4, 2010 at 12:37 am

    @Catherine, If I had just a bit more money I’d be cafe press-ing that bad boy right this instant.

    Marinka June 2, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    If you get batshit over some whining, why did you bother becoming a parent?
    Gotcha.

    I do have a temper. I have such a temper, in fact, that I told my son that he was a HUGE PAIN IN THE ASS because he was doing what I can only describe as Whining 2.0 to the Nth power. And then I felt bad about it.

    But I feel better now. Because he was a pain in the ass and it’s ok to let him know that.
    .-= Marinka´s last blog ..Young Ladrinka, Man of Mystery =-.

    Haley-O (Cheaty) June 2, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    Please, I’d love some whine repellent! Someone really needs to invent that NOW.
    .-= Haley-O (Cheaty)´s last blog ..It’s a Good Thing: VLOGS of Cuteness (ft. Wee Contest!) =-.

    Yahee June 2, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    I don’t think it’s wrong to express or feel any of your emotions. I also think that children SHOULD see you express and feel emotion… not “batshit angry every morning” kind of expression, but in moderation.

    As for the whining… it is the bane of my existence. I tell my son that I don’t speak “whine”, and when he’s ready to use nice words to talk to me, I’m ready to listen.
    .-= Yahee´s last blog ..Three whole years =-.

    Yahee June 2, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    Oh ya… that pic of her at the top? It. Rocks. My. Socks.
    .-= Yahee´s last blog ..Three whole years =-.

    Catherine June 3, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    @Yahee, she’s pretty awesome, whining notwithstanding.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Rage, Rage Against The Whining Of The Child =-.

    Peggy Brister June 2, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Mine have outgrown the whining and have moved onto rolling thier eyes and making hissing noises.

    Peggy Brister June 2, 2010 at 9:00 pm

    Sorry I submitted before I was done. I got click happy. Mine let air hiss out of themselves like an over-inflated tire to show their unhappiness or disgust with a particular situation. And I do let my kids see my anger. I do raise my voice. Hell, they raise their voices and don’t give a crap if it bothers me, so I raise my voice when I am angry. I won’t hold it inside and give myself a heart attack to spare my ungrateful kids feelings. When they mature and start caring about my feelings and how what they do affects me, I may change how I feel about it.
    .-= Peggy Brister´s last blog ..Don’t you just LOVE serial killers? =-.

    Catherine June 3, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    @Peggy Brister, oh, god, Emilia does that too. MAKES ME CRAZY.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Rage, Rage Against The Whining Of The Child =-.

    Lisa June 2, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    You are a saint. I wanted to yell after reading all of that and I’m fully awake and even had a piece of cake after dinner.

    I grew up with the opposite household – my dad had (still has) real anger issues. The upside to that is that I am one, tough cookie because if you aren’t my dad towering over me by a good 3 feet, you don’t scare me.

    It’s also given me quite the lesson in gradations of anger. I will never, ever say something mean in anger. Now, I get angry. I get quiet or something else, but I will never be hurtful like he was. So, in relation to that, letting my kid see that I am annoyed or upset with her is not an issue for me. Unless it just makes her upset – she’s only 2 – and that just makes her cry, so I avoid it as a form of self-preservation, not because I’m worried for her psyche.

    I don’t know if it’s possible to send her back to her room – or if there is somewhere you need to be by a certain time – but that idea certainly sounds like a good one. Or I’ve heard of saying, “I can’t hear you when you’re whining.”

    Either way, I feel for you. I cannot IMAGINE going through that Every. Single. Morning. Reminds me of a post from Baby Rabies a while back, describing her typical morning. I’d go out of my mind.

    Another Suburban Mom June 2, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    Princess Persistent also whines. Often. I have tried reasoning with her, yelling at her, ignoring her, informing her that I do not understand whine, giving her a cheese and cracker plate (she did not get the joke), begging her to stop, offering bribes including cold hard cash, rewarding her for speaking in a non whine, and about everything else to be found in the child rearing books and some mornings I want to puncture my own eardrums.

    I just keep on hoping that she will grow out of it. And then I wonder why I want to start mainlining chocolat3 by 8:30am every day.

    BTW: Make her the cheesecake stuff. It might cure whining and since there is butter and cream cheese in there it is totally a breakfast food.
    .-= Another Suburban Mom´s last blog ..SixThings About Another Suburan Mom =-.

    Catherine June 3, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    @Another Suburban Mom, I am making ME the cheesecake stuff. ME.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Rage, Rage Against The Whining Of The Child =-.

    Lisa June 2, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    OMG The WHINING, pitched at exactly the best frequency to feel like spike into my spine! I generally turn around, or walk away until it has paused (to take a breath or to see if I am watching) and try to quietly speak before it gets going again. But GEEZ! How do they do that so “well”?

    darah June 2, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    it’s the MOMMMYY I NEEEED YOU!!! That just grates on me. Really? You need me to watch you wipe your ass? Really?
    It’s the whining and then the passionate displays of angst when I tell her no, you do not Need me to watch you on the toilet, that just oh they make me such a worse parent!
    I was venting to my mom the other day and I said, Oh I just don’t feel like I am ever patient enough with her. I’m just always on the verge of losing it.

    She looked at me like I was on crack and said, You are so much more patient than I ever was with you. I had a 10th of your patience. Your kids are so lucky.

    Yeah, I hang on to that as the coffee is brewing.
    .-= darah´s last blog ..summatime =-.

    Tania June 2, 2010 at 10:54 pm

    If its not OK for the kids to see my anger then I’m fucked as a parent. I like to think that as long as I apologize and tell him – it’s almost always Hop – why I lost it, we make a little progress each time.

    And I also enforce the no (fake) crying / no whining / no yelling rule. I leave the room asap or tell him to do that in his own room. It doesn’t always work but does cut it down a lot.

    Catherine June 3, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    @Tania, does he actually go to his room, under those circumstances? Because when I tell E that she pitches a bigger fit.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Rage, Rage Against The Whining Of The Child =-.

    amanda June 2, 2010 at 10:57 pm

    my 5-year old whines, too. it makes me crazy, too. i wish i could say that i’m as mild mannered as you, but no. anyways, what i’ve found works is that i tell him that i can’t understand him when he uses his whiny voice. He shapes up pretty quick and repeats whatever it was that he was whining about in a normal voice, and then we deal with it. saying it out loud to him helps us both know that he’s frustrating me (and i’m sure there’s something in my tone sometimes, too, that lets him know), and somehow, the recognition of the frustration helps me to let it go. i say it out loud to him sometimes, too (and get me some looks in the grocery store, but whatever). “Mummy feels really frustrated by your whining right now, Sweetman, could you give it a rest?” Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but saying it out loud is sort of like counting to 10 for me. I feel better having acknowledged my anger/frustration, and it generally doesn’t escalate after that…generally…not always…;)

    Nick June 3, 2010 at 12:19 am

    All I know is…We (as in the parenthood/people of this planet) we’re all the same. We all have our varying degrees of reactions to things such as the whine-fests, but I take comfort in that we are the basically the same. Therefore, as I can see from the above, I am not alone.

    BTW I have timed an average day and my personal Princess Winnie-Whiner from the land of Whine-A-Lot probably makes a whining request every 15-20 minutes or so. I try to comfort myself with the belief that she is in the making for a mighty and powerful women who will know what she wants. (hey there’s gotta be SOME good)

    Catch the Kids June 3, 2010 at 2:48 am

    I’m not a morning person either and know that feeling of irrational frustration well. My five children not only whine at me, they also whine at each other. With predictable results.

    Sometimes, a change of scenery helps. And when my patience is truly shot, it’s everybody to rooms. Go easy on yourself. It’s not an easy job.

    J from Ireland June 3, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Oh dear girl, you are so not the only one who yells at the whining or whinging as we call it. The whinging drives me fecking crazy. If my 2yr old doesn’t have a nap, then from 5pm till 8pm its nonstop fecking whinge whinge whinge. I shout or put her on the bold chair but feel like an absolute cow. The best of luck to you!!

    Gliding through motherhood June 3, 2010 at 8:50 am

    The whining makes me INSANE. And sometimes I yell. sigh. I wonder if anyone has considered it as a form of torture. I know it’s enough to break me of my cool.
    .-= Gliding through motherhood´s last blog ..Wedding dress blog tour =-.

    Alexis June 3, 2010 at 9:08 am

    “whining hurts her head and she hasn’t had enough coffee and it’s too early” – I read that and thought you must have been in my kitchen observing me! Whining (particularly before coffee) is like finger nails on a chalkboard. I try not to yell at the kids (3.5 and 5.5.) but don’t always succeed. Our rules generally boil down to “I don’t speaking whining” (i.e. I won’t listen to you until you speak in a regular voice) and “If you are going to whine like that, you need to leave the room” (this is to preserve parental sanity – I have been known to physically carry them out of the room, because the aural anvil whining creates is about to split my head in 2…). I hate the fact that I yell at my children, but yet I still do it and it seems to have absolutely no impact on my eldest and occasionally makes the younger burst into tears (which makes me feel like the worst mother in the world).
    I do realize my tolerance is much lower (and their tendency to whine is more likely) first thing in the morning and in the evening when we are all exhausted from a day of work/school – a bed combination indeed.

    P.S. Catherine, I love your blog. I’ve been lurking for awhile, but this is the first time I’ve commented…

    Catherine June 3, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    @Alexis, I’m so glad that you did comment! Thank you!
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Rage, Rage Against The Whining Of The Child =-.

    Jo June 3, 2010 at 9:09 am

    I so needed to read this post today! Thank you, it is so hard to reconcile the beast inside that feels rage–actual rage–towards my beautiful daughter who I grew and bore and try to nurture the best I can. I feel shame and guilt when I feel this way, though I rarely yell and I’ve never lifted a finger towards her (besides the obvious desperate grabbing if she’s in danger), but my mind sometimes goes to dark places and I just want and need to be away from that whining, needing, pulling, torturing sound! We are only human, us mothers. That is why I love your blog, you help remind us of that. It is a terrible feeling to lose control over your emotions. At the same time, I think it is good for kids to learn about anger from the ones they trust the most. To know we can get upset or angry and we still love them more than anything. They are going to come into contact with anger someday, and it would be better to learn how to handle it at home.

    My husband’s parents never fought, and at the beginning of our relationship, if I even slightly disagreed with him, he would melt down and think I hated him. He’s better at it now, but I had to teach him how to have disagreements and argue and know it’s okay, we’re okay! My parents fought all the time, and maybe that wasn’t totally healthy, but after 41 years of marriage, they still hold hands when walking side by side. I learned that an argument isn’t going to destroy everything. Good lesson, I’d say. Just as learning that your mother can lose her cool and yell and get mad and she’s human, but she still loves you no matter what.

    And sometimes kids need to learn to just shut the f@ck up! :)

    LD June 3, 2010 at 9:27 am

    I really really hate whining.
    But, morning whining kills me.
    So, we have 2 things.
    1) Both of my children (6 and 2) know that there is to be quiet until Mommy has had her coffee. I usually get up before them so it’s okay. They are not angels. But I have explained many times that I will be cranky unless I’ve had my coffee. It buys me time. They are used to it. Really. I just don’t respond. (suddenly I’m questionning my parenting skills).

    2) I believe in morning television. It keeps them happy. It keeps me happy. We all agree on Breakfast Television till my coffee kicks in and then we move on to kid-friendly shows while I get ready.

    Trust me – my kids see me angry often. It’s just that to me being angry over morning whining when I can combat it easily is manageable.

    Having said that. When I’m in a bad mood my 6 year old will earnestly say “mommy, you need some coffee.” (I pride myself in the fact that he hasn’t yet said “mommy you need a drink”)
    .-= LD´s last blog ..Let’s Talk Meat =-.

    Catherine June 3, 2010 at 7:56 pm

    @LD, we do, on occasion, use the morning TV, too. and sometimes it really, really, really works. I worry about getting too dependent on it, though. Then again: WHATEVER.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Rage, Rage Against The Whining Of The Child =-.

    kelly (@kblogger) June 3, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Weirdness of all weirdness, I just wrote a post about this today. Anger & kids and what the heck to do about it. http://www.seriousshops.com/blogs/post/What-About-Anger.aspx

    What’s interesting is that I came from a family where anger – RAGE – was expressed freely. So I’m a yeller. When I really needn’t be. And wish I weren’t, because I HATE when its modelled back at me. Yet there you are, from a family that DIDN’T emote. And you’re confused too. So darn it, I just don’t know.
    .-= kelly (@kblogger)´s last blog ..What About Anger =-.

    Catherine June 3, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    @kelly (@kblogger), oh, my family emoted. They were big emoters, especially my mom, who ONLY emotes and has no emote OFF button. They just didn’t emote ANGER, not really.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Rage, Rage Against The Whining Of The Child =-.

    Adventures In Babywearing June 3, 2010 at 9:43 am

    Oh my gosh, Catherine, I totally lost my cool already this morning. Like, my throat kind of hurts still. I am not proud of this. I am a GENTLE parent. But the whining combined with four year old combined with MORNINGTIME. Yes.

    Steph
    .-= Adventures In Babywearing´s last blog ..When Nothing Means Everything =-.

    Catherine June 3, 2010 at 8:29 pm

    @Adventures In Babywearing, that makes me feel immeasurably better. thank you.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Rage, Rage Against The Whining Of The Child =-.

    mimi June 3, 2010 at 10:07 am

    Oh, the whining. It sets me off. And my girl is SO INCREDIBLY LOUD that my whole family has PTSD from her infancy: my mom was in the grocery store the other, and visibly cringed when a newborn worked up to a cry — then the baby just went a little reedy ‘wah’ like regular babies do and my mom was shocked.

    Anyhow. Your morning sounds like a lot of mine.

    I get really, really, really angry. For me it’s the noise of the whine, and the sheer outragrous volume of it.

    I’m not really a yeller. But Pynchon’s mom used to have incredible, wall-punching rages, and he’s sometimes prone to pillow punching outbursts, but we talk it out with Munchkin about how we all have to work to a) not be annoying to people, and b) to try to control our tempers.

    ANGRY. Whining, plus tired mommy, plus passive non-compliance, plus volume == “teachable moment.”

    Gah.
    .-= mimi´s last blog ..Tighter, Closer, Sweeter =-.

    Diapers and Wine June 3, 2010 at 10:23 am

    I could write a post every day about my hatred for The Whining. You are not alone.

    Also, I’ve loved reading the comments here, I’m so glad I’m not the only yeller-who-doesn’t-want-to-be-a-yeller.

    oneluckymommy June 3, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Hey – you are OK. Compared to MANY parents out there, you are fine. (I used to work as a foster care worker – I KNOW.)

    BTW – Whining is not a socially acceptable behavior in our society. If you, as an adult, do it around other adults, they shun you, get angry at you, won’t work with you, and/or divorce you.

    All children need to learn that whining is not OK and is not an effective life management tool. One way to teach them that is to show anger – that’s a very real-world consequence for whining. Learning that whining make perople angry at you and does NOT result in what you want is a good thing.

    ‘Losing it’ is different than deliberately allowing yourself to show anger. Don’t feel guilty for yelling or showing anger. Worry about ‘losing it’ (losing control). If you allow yourself to feel angry/show anger but remain in control it might help with the feelings of guilt – again, anger is a very valid and legitmate human response to whining. I think you are on the right track that *never* feeling/showing anger isn’t so normal.

    All that said, man, I’ve learned to pick my battles and plan ahead. I realized after 3 tries that forcing her to like/eat cold cereal was simply not important. If it is reasonably healthy and has enough calories, my child can have it for breakfast. We keep a stock of 6-7 things she ‘generally eats while still not awake’ and feed them to her while one of us sits with her and works on waking up in the am. Whining almost negated, with the uninitended bonus that I am generally forced to sit down and eat breakfast too (a meal often skipped).

    Can you make her cold unbuttered toast the night before? Seems to me it would be the same in the morning…assuming she eats/requests that regularly..

    Karen L June 3, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    @oneluckymommy, That was very reassuring! Thanks.

    Ellen June 3, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    Bravo. I SO relate. I deal with whining on another level. Because my son can’t talk, he sometimes gets frustrated and whines or wails. We have alternate forms of communication for him—a device, some signs—but still, he gets frustrated. And when he whines, it goes straight to my core and twists up my insides like a pretzel. Compounding that is the guilt I feel for getting upset that my nonverbal child is whining because he’s frustrated. I’m usually able to coax him out of the whining by hugging him and talking about his favorite stuff (i.e., “Max! We’re going to go to a car wash! And eat spaghetti there!”—a feat I’m actually planning to pull off one of these days), but when we’re in the car and driving and the whining goes on and on and on, I really just wish he had an “off” button. My husband is a lot more tolerant.

    Tammy June 3, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    As I write this, I am hiding in my bedroom while my daughter sits outside of the door reciting her favorite mantra “mommy, mommy, mommy, etc” Her dad is ‘watching’ her while i hide here……

    Catherine June 3, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    @Tammy, I have been in that exact spot, hiding in the bedroom. THAT EXACT SPOT.
    .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Rage, Rage Against The Whining Of The Child =-.

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