The Whiny Buts (Oh How I Almost Spelled it Butts!)

I love my kids.  I adore them. I think they are clever, inquisitive, wonderful little (and not-so-little anymore) people with serious geeky tendencies. They are also seriously frakking annoying at times. They A-R-G-U-E incessantly. Oh, they deny it; they're just talking. And I know they are. I get it. I really do. They get on a track and they've got to vocally express it; they cannot not express it. But it can get a bit frustrating to live with three people who absolutely must must must express absolutely everything regardless of whether anyone wants to hear it. I don't want to hear "buuuuuut mommmmmmmyyyyyyyy I'mmmmmmmm jusssssttttt..." when I've asked them to complete a task. The task wasn't open to negotiation, therefore no commentary is needed, you know?

If you're a Big Bang fan, think Sheldon in the episode "The Friendship Algorithm":

(first two minutes specifically)

My kids absolutely have to conclude their vocalizations. HAVE TO. But part of my job is to teach them that when their compliance is asked for by an authority figure and it's not an unreasonable, dangerous or abusive demand, that compliance should be given. Out there in the real world, employers are not going to listen to them griping ad nauseum about a task. They're not. In the classroom, they need to be able to do the work without constantly vocalizing their extreme disgust with it.

So we work on it here, getting them to learn when it's appropriate, what tone is appropriate and so on. And I learn to remember that they aren't intentionally being disrespectful. By the way, explaining that abstract concept: almost impossible.  Instead, we try to concretize it to "when you talk like this (and then parrot it back), the grown up you're saying it to will be unhappy and get mad and then you really have no hope of being heard."

Do you know how hard it is to get through to children who are in the middle of that track? They don't hush long enough for you to speak where they can listen, but you can't let them finish the inappropriate vocalization or you've reinforced that very behavior. It becomes a bit like that first two minutes of the above Big Bang episode; interrupt enough to not let them finish, distract them, do anything (appropriate) to stop it cold so that you can offer another way of handling that need to vocalize.

At times like these, I well understand how "easier" it was for parents when I was a kid in the late 60s and 70s. If you're old enough, you probably remember that most parents dealt with "backtalking" with the momentarily effective slap or smack. That for sure shut me up until I was out of hearing.

I'm not recommending punishment, far from it, in fact. It just flat out is ineffective in altering behavior long term in getting appropriate behavior to take the place of what has been deemed inappropriate. Maybe I need to do this, instead:

(starting at 4:50)

If I throw her (Lily was engaging in this behavior this morning) a chocolate, will she quit whining, "buuuuttttttttt mommmmmmyyyyyyy blah blah blah"? Or should I just eat the chocolate?


farmwifetwo said...

When my eldest gets like that I walk out of the room, return to whatever I was doing, if it's minor. If he's ignorant I'll flat out tell him to "shut up/shut your mouth, I do not deserve to be spoken to in that tone of voice and will not help you until you speak correctly". If he's behavioural I start taking away electronics. He's in Gr 6.... I'm not sugar coating it anymore.

The youngest likes to scream/cry when he's upset. This is also not allowed. He has to ask correctly. It is being dealt with at home and school - he has social stories and he's getting the jist.

It takes work, work, and more work... and in the end I get compliments when they are out at school and activities. Which tells me that they are becoming "normal" children. Driving Mommy nuts at home and being angels for other people.

Not complaining.... but I wish they'd be angels at home too.

Life in the House That Asperger Built said...

Eat the chocolate, and then have one for me while you're at it. :-)

melbo said...

I know mine are still little but I struggle with this too. I am always saying to William that when he goes to school, he will be asked to do things and he needs to do it without quibbling.

I find myself saying (rather a lot) "When I ask you do something, it's for a reason so can you just do it?" I barely refrain from adding "Please, please just do it without giving me grief".

Diane said...

It's my NT kids giving me all kinds of grief with this. My Aspie will, of course, complain inappropriately fairly frequently, but it's quickly corrected before he gets a chance to build up a head of steam, and generally once he's past the impulse he can see that continuing isn't worth the price. The other two could go on at each other or complain at me for hours if I let them - they actually seem to enjoy the activity, and it takes great persistence on my part to keep interrupting the activity for long enough to get them redirected - at least until they're out of the room and think I can't hear.

I adore the Big Bang Theory, and Sheldon is my favorite.

BTW, any reason you and Lily can't both have a chocolate? - it can tend to make anybody a little more agreeable.:)