I will be honest with you. One of my kids really tests my patience. I am usually a pretty cool mom until the big emotions start to come up.
I used to have so many thoughts when I struggle with my son’s big emotions like …. is something wrong with me? Is it something wrong with him? What am I missing or not doing? Seriously, how do we go from everything’s fine to you’re throwing a massive tantrum and rolling gon the floor?
It wasn’t until I talked to returning guest Rachel Bailey that I realized that my son has these big emotions that I have to help him regulate. In today’s episode, Rachel shares:
- how to help your kids with their big emotions
- tips that you can use at the moment, as well as some proactive things that you can do to help prevent those big emotions from taking over.
- an example with and breaks down ways to better understand our kids
If you need help with your child’s big emotions, this episode is for you.
Rachel Bailey is a Parenting Specialist who has been serving families for over a decade. Besides being a mother of two, she also has a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, a certification in Positive Discipline, and has provided services as an ADHD Coach, in-home mentor, and therapist. Through her podcast, programs, and services, Rachel teaches parents hands-on tools to raise resilient, confident children and bring flexibility, peace, and connection to families.
Connect with Rachel
- Website: www.Rachel-Bailey.com
- Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/RachelBaileyParenting
- Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/RachelBailey
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachelbaileyparenting
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/rachelbailey
- Website: www.Rachel-Bailey.com
- Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/RachelBailey
- Special link to the video: https://rachel-bailey.com/realhappymom/
- Podcast: Your Parenting Long Game
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Transcript of this episode
Toni-Ann Mayembe 0:05
You are listening to the real happy mom podcast, the weekly podcast for busy working moms to get inspiration, encouragement and practical tips for this journey called motherhood. My name is Tony and and you are listening to Episode 180. Well, hey there, and welcome back to another episode of The Real happy mom podcast. Super excited to have you back with me again, if you are returning. Thank you so much for coming back and tuning into this episode, I know that this one is going to be really helpful for you, especially if you have kids with big emotions. And if this is your first time listening, welcome to the podcast. I’m so glad that you’re here. And I hope that you will be back again, podcast episodes come out every Tuesday, and Mommy talk Thursdays or every Thursday. Those are quick episodes. So today I have a returning guest. That is Rachel Bailey. She is on the podcast today to help us with our kids with big emotions. So I will be honest with you and let you know, I have one child that really test my patients in just test me in ways that I never thought possible because his emotions are so big. And I used to think was it something wrong with me? Is it something wrong with him? Like, what am I missing? Like? How do we go from everything’s fine to you’re throwing a tantrum for an hour like, it just didn’t make sense to me. It wasn’t until that I talked to Rachel that I realized that my son has these big emotions. And it’s actually a lot more common than I think. So in today’s episode, Rachel really deep dives, how to help us with these kids with these big emotions, she shares with us some tips that we can use in the moment, as well as some proactive things that we can do to help prevent those big emotions from taking over. Because let’s just be honest, as parents, we want to make sure that we control those emotions so that they don’t act out and end up throwing tantrums, like I was telling you about my son earlier for an extended period of time. And then also too, we want our kids to be able to think clearly make mature and responsible decisions. And she helps with all of that. Lastly, she goes through an example with me and I share something that happened with me today, like the day that I’m recording this episode. And she breaks down some things and helps me to see how we can do better with understanding our kids so that we can then be able to make better choices in how we respond to those big emotions when they come up. So if you’re like me have a child with big emotions, you definitely want to stay tuned to this episode. So definitely know that this will be helpful for you. I really am excited that Rachel said yes to coming back. And I know that someone out there is going to be getting something that they need. So without further ado, we are gonna go ahead and jump on in to this week’s episode. All right, so today we got Rachel back on the podcast, Rachel was on episode 75. She was a part of our what I call my COVID-19 series, where she talked about practical tips for parenting when you’re stressed and overwhelmed, because let’s just be real, all of us were stressed out and just dealing with too much when the pandemic first hits. So Rachel helped out so much with that, and she has some really great tips. So I’m super excited to have Rachel back on the podcast again. Welcome back. Rachel, thank you so much for having me back. Yes, yes. And for those who did not listen to episode 75, if you haven’t, please go back and listen to it. If you haven’t listened to Episode 75, can you just share with us a little bit about you and what you do?
Rachel Bailey 3:46
Yes, so I am a mom, that’s my most important job. To me. I have two daughters. And my background is in clinical psychology. And I actually was initially my plan was to become a neuro psychologist. And that was my goal for many years. But while I was in graduate school, I ended up getting pregnant. So I didn’t finish that. But I learned a lot about the brain, and behavior and emotion. So initially, after I left grad school, I was actually working as a therapist, and I was working with kids and teens as an ADHD coach. But what happened was, I was working with kids and teens. And then parents kept coming up to me and saying, Hey, Rachel, it’s great that you’re working with my child, but I need to know what to do when you’re not around. Like, how do I do the practical things like, you know, get them to listen to me and clean up their clothes? Or how do I deal with the anxiety? Or how do I deal with, you know, my child sneaking out at night or getting their cell phone when they’re not supposed to? So the really practical stuff. So I actually started working with parents about 13 years ago now. And my job is to give really practical like, what do I say what do I do? And I will tell you about a year and a half ago though I also started specializing and working with a particular group of parents who are raising children with big emotions because I am personally raising too I am a big emotion person. And I know that it can have a really big impact on the home. So that’s what I do these days is I work with parents of children with big emotions.
Toni-Ann Mayembe 5:07
Yes, yes. And big emotions is something I’m very familiar with here, too. I think a lot of moms Listen, they’re like, oh, yeah, I know all about that. And the reason why I wanted to bring you on which I share with you a little bit before we got started was just dealing with my nine year old, like, he is in a place where his emotions are just gigantic. And he can go from smiling and laughing to upset in like, point two seconds, and then stay upset for hours. And it’s hard to get him to calm down. I just feel like, I just don’t even know how to even like, penetrate the problem. So I’ve tried talking to him, like, sometimes I have to, like physically, like, touch him and like, look at him and be like, Look at me, like, you gotta calm down, like, let’s talk, let’s breathe. Because I’ve learned with him, when he’s not doing those nice, deep breaths, he just like, goes straight to like, I’m super bad. And I’m gonna make everyone know that I’m mad mode. So I wanted to bring you back to help me with this. Because I know that this is not only just a problem that I have with me, but also other moms, we were going through this as well. So I guess the first question I want to ask is like, how can we as parents be better at helping our kids to understand their feelings and then be able to start to control their emotions a little bit better?
Rachel Bailey 6:29
So it’s a great question. So first thing I will say is that almost every family since I specialize, you know, is a little nervous at first, do I you know, sort of niche in this area. But I think about 80% of families have at least one child with big emotions. And one person once asked me, How do you know if you have a child with big emotions? And I was like, if you have one, you know, you know, you have a few probably knew that with your son. So what can we do as parents, the first thing I would say is that we have to stop seeing their big emotions as a problem, or as a threat. And it’s not because we want to be nice. It’s actually the way the brain works. And we really need to understand this. If we are raising kids with big emotions, we really need to understand what any child but basically what big emotions are a signal of or what anger or frustration or crying or even turning in and say mean things about themselves. And the type of big emotion is a symptom that a child’s what I call their Yuck, or their state of discomfort is bigger than their coping skills. So what’s happened is, they’re unhappy about something, they’re uncomfortable about something. And they they don’t have the ability to cope in a mature way. So what happens is they go into fight or flight in that moment, and what you’re actually seeing are symptoms of the fight or flight response. And the issue is that when they’re in fight or flight, they’re actually scanning the environment to say, is it safe out there. And if we believe that their big emotions are bad, they actually sense that and they get their emotions get bigger. So one of the first things that we need to do and when I work with parents, this is a really big, you know, issue that we work on, we have to actually learn to regulate ourselves. Because in those moments, our children need to borrow our regulated energy, and how we view their behavior is going to determine whether we can stay regulated or not. So it’s a long answer. But hopefully that answered your question.
Toni-Ann Mayembe 8:19
Oh, yeah, no, definitely. Because I’ve learned that I have to check myself before I check my kids. So I’m always like, okay, Tony, I’m, like, calm down. Like sometimes I have to, like literally, like walk away. Because I’m like, today, just No, I can’t right now. Because I think in the last conversation that we had, and even with some other previous conversations, it’s just always like, you have to make sure that you don’t like, explode with them, too, or get mad with them. So I definitely can see that, you know, regulating ourselves. But I’m thinking about, like, some of the times, like, you know, when you’re just tired, you come home from a long day, like, you had annoying co workers, things didn’t go the way you planned and you come home you just don’t want to deal with. And they are just like mad at you. And you’re just like, okay, like, so would you suggest walking away or dealing with it at another time? What would you suggest?
Rachel Bailey 9:14
Especially one of the things I say because I am a big emotion person raising big emotion people is that I’m not a big fan of in the moment parenting. I actually think it’s, it’s really hard because you’re dealing with a lot of people’s yuck in that moment. And again, yuck, I use that term a lot. It’s it is basically my word for anything uncomfortable. And so it could be frustration, anger, hunger, you know, we’re hungry, we’re tired. So what happens is when you’re dealing with multiple people’s Yuck, when multiple people are in their fight or flight response, it rarely goes well. So we walk into a situation already in the UK, we see our kids yuck behavior that puts us deeper into Yuck, which puts them deeper into yuck I call this the cycle of yuck in the moment. So what I tend to do with families is do I give tips for in the moment Sure, and I can give you those as well. But I do a lot of let’s figure out how we can reduce the likelihood that this is going to happen to begin with. Let’s figure out what are the patterns in your home that are creating Yuck, what’s going on with your child’s Yuck, what’s going on with your Yep. Because handling it proactively is much better. But yes, I would say, again, to answer your question directly, it’s better to walk away than to stay in the moment and try to regulate when you’re not, because that’s not going to go well, you’re gonna end up spewing all your yuck out on your child, which they literally like they catch it and hold on to it. And it just creates that cycle.
Toni-Ann Mayembe 10:33
Gotcha, gotcha. And you brought up a couple of things that you can be proactive or reactive, which I like. And I am glad that you that you said that you’re not a fan of the in the moment parenting because I think a lot of times we feel like we have to do something right then? Or else they’re getting away with it. Or we’re not being a good mom, because we didn’t you don’t address it at that time. But I’m glad you gave us permission to walk away.
Rachel Bailey 11:01
It’s better to walk away.
Toni-Ann Mayembe 11:02
Yes. Okay, perfect. So you said that there are some proactive and reactive things. So talk to us about some reactive things, like in the moment things and then we’ll switch over to some proactive things.
Rachel Bailey 11:14
So in the moment, here’s the thing, and then I want to touch on your topic of we’re letting them get away with it, because I hear that from 99.9% of parents. So it’s something obviously we all worry about. So first, I’ll start with what to do. And then I’ll tell you why this is not letting them get away with it. Basically, in the moment, parenting is about regulating everybody getting everyone out of yuck. Because when someone is again, in this state of Yuck, they’re hungry, they’re tired, they’re feeling frustrated, disappointed, annoyed when they’re in that place, again, their fight or flight responses kicked in. And one of the first things that our fight or flight response does is it shuts down the part of our brain or shuts down access to the part of our brain where responsible, respectful, mature behavior lives. So we see a child in Yuck, and we can’t actually expect them to be responsible, mature, respectful, it’s not going to happen. It’s basically like expecting someone to jump up and fly, they can’t do it. So in the moment, parenting is a lot about regulating ourselves, so that we can regulate our children. I call this traveling the yuck curve. Basically, if they’re in Yuck, they need to let their yuck out and they’re young tends to get bigger before it gets smaller. So it’s like a rainbow shaped curve there yet gets bigger and bigger and bigger than she reaches a peak and it comes down. When they come down. That’s when the behavior gets better. And they come down more quickly off of this curve when we are regulated. That’s why it’s so important. So in the moment, what we want to do is focus on regulation. And here’s letting us off the hook a little bit more. When a child is having a big emotion or big behavior. There’s, we’re actually not doing very much. We’re not we shouldn’t be doing very much. Because the more we try to control our child, the more we tell them how awful their behavior is how they’re being disrespectful, that puts them deeper into yuck. And their behavior gets worse. So in the moment, parenting is really about regulating ourselves, regulating our children. And we’ve all seen this when they travel that curve, when they have let out all their Yuck, there’s so much more mature and responsible. Often they’re apologetic, and they’re sweet and loving. So that’s really what in the moment, reactive parenting or responsive parenting is about. And I just want to end with this is not letting them off the hook. Letting them off the hook would mean we never talk about it again. We do talk about it, we just talk about it later when they can access the part of the brain that can hear us. That’s the difference. We always talk about it later.
Toni-Ann Mayembe 13:36
Okay, gotcha. Gotcha. No, I’m totally with you on that one. And it’s funny that you say that because this morning, literally this morning, little dude just decided to just like have a meltdown. And he just sat there and cried and cried and cried. And it was so funny because I was like, You know what? I can feel I’m getting upset. Let me just keep cleaning up because I was just tidying up before we left. So I kept doing what I was doing. And he saw me he kept crying. And then finally I walked up to him because there was a toy next to him that was broken. And I walked up to him and I was like, Hey, do you want this toy? Can I throw it away? And all of a sudden he stopped crying. Mommy, actually, I found this on the playground. And I want another one. Can you buy me one on Amazon? And I’m like, Really, bro, you were just having a meltdown. So it’s so funny that you talked about that curve, because he was literally like, fell out that curve so quick. And I was just like, why can we have this conversation like just a few minutes ago? Like what?
Rachel Bailey 14:27
Right? It’s it’s just like night and day when they’re on it. And they usually enter exit their curve before we exit ours. So like, they’re sweet and loving. And we’re still in it, like feel like we got run over by a train. And they’re like, Oh, can I have a hug? And we’re like, what? Do you know what just happened? Yeah, that’s usually what happens.
Toni-Ann Mayembe 14:43
Oh, yeah, totally, totally. That’s me all day, every day. So you share with that. In the moment, things that we can do is let’s talk about some proactive things that we can do to prevent some of this behavior.
Rachel Bailey 14:55
Yeah. So if I can give another visualization so I talked about the yuck curve, which is like a rainbow shaped curve, the event visit visualization is like a seesaw. And I want you to imagine if someone’s yuck is high up, and their coping skills are low. So if the seesaw is tilted up towards the UK, that’s when you’re gonna see big emotions and big reactions and big behaviors. If we switch the seesaw so that the yuck is lower than the coping skills, that’s when you have a calm, peaceful household. So proactively what I teach parents is how to reduce unnecessary Yuck, we’re not going to reduce all yuck because honestly, I, my area of clinical expertise is actually in resilience. And I will tell you, you can’t, you shouldn’t reduce all yuck in children’s lives. But we reduce unnecessary yuck. And then we teach coping skills. Now coping skills are not just teaching them to take deep breaths, coping skills are also teaching children, especially big emotion, children tend to be inflexible thinkers. So they imagine that things are gonna go one way in their mind. And if they don’t go that way, it’s like meltdown. It’s like epic meltdown. So one of the coping skills we teach proactively is actually teaching them how to think more flexibly, so that when things don’t go their way, they don’t freak out, or teaching them how to solve problems. So that if they see a problem, their brain doesn’t immediately go into fight or flight and freak out. So we reduce unnecessary yuck. We increase coping skills, many, many types of coping skills. And that’s when a child can actually be more flexible. These are proactive strategies. And they’re just a few that I that I have I teach parents many, but
Toni-Ann Mayembe 16:31
gotcha, no, I like this. And as you’re saying this, I’m already thinking. So just to give you more background on the meltdown this morning, he was asked to put on or not asked, he was told to put on his undershirt. He hates undershirts, he hates any shirts with buttons, anything that requires effort, he does not like okay, so he put on the undershirt. And I guess the shirt was sticking out like the, the part of the shirt was sticking out underneath the shirt. And so he was upset, because he was like, it’s sticking out. And it’s not in his words where it’s falling off of me. And he shouldn’t wear it. And so instead of him actually, like expressing that and like talking to us, like he just had a meltdown. And then when his daddy showed him how you just like pull it down, it automatically fixes all those problems, so it’s not falling off of you. It’s actually fitting on you nicely. So I’m just thinking how to get him to be a little bit more flexible in that mode. Yeah. Um, cuz it’s just that he doesn’t want to wear the shirt, the underwear?
Rachel Bailey 17:33
So let me dive into that, if you don’t mind. Yeah, let’s do it. My podcast a lot, that I think people tell me is helpful. I actually want you to see this, because I think you can help him a little bit by seeing this from his perspective. So I’ve never met your son, but I know kids with big emotions really, really well. And what I do is I can get into their world and explain it to parents. So here’s what was happening for him. So if I even talk from the first person, here’s why he got so upset. So here’s the first thing. Mom knows I don’t want to wear these undershirts. She knows I don’t like them. And she doesn’t care that I don’t like them. And now she’s not asking me to put it on. She’s telling me to put it on. So I have no control here. There’s nothing I can do. I have to put this on. Now I put it on, and it’s extremely uncomfortable. And oh my gosh, now you can see it, it’s coming out the top. And that’s so embarrassing. People are gonna make fun of me. So not only is it uncomfortable, but now people are gonna make fun of me, I have no control. If I tell her that I’m upset, she’s gonna say, Well, you have to wear it anyway. And this is the worst thing ever. And I can’t believe this. And why don’t they just care about me? That’s what’s going on for him. So what what happens is we there’s certain emotional needs we have. And when when we we don’t see that that’s what kids are going through. But we are actually what I call withdrawing from these emotional needs. And we’ve no idea we’re doing it. That’s why we’re like, Wait, what just happened? All I did was asked an employee on his undershirt. So that’s what’s going on for him. So he sees all of these problems. So what we can do is teach him problem solving skills outside of the moment, so that when he sees these problems, like mom isn’t, is telling me not asked me or mom doesn’t seem to care. We’ve practice it outside of the moment. So in the moment, he can actually recognize it. But until he knows those skills, what he’s thinking is what I was saying he was thinking probably I mean, I’ve never met him, but
Toni-Ann Mayembe 19:22
yeah, yeah, it’s that’s about 100%. Right? Because I think he even said, like, no one listens to me. You don’t trust me. You don’t hear what I have to say. And I was like, we wouldn’t even get to this point, bro. Like, I’m sitting here trying to hear
Rachel Bailey 19:34
you. Exactly right. And that’s why this is so confusing for so many parents because we’re being logical. The emotions are totally illogical from they seem illogical. I actually bring logic to it. I explain to parents what’s going on. So it is no longer illogical, but it seems illogical at first, if you don’t understand, because ask him to wear an undershirt. There’s nothing wrong with that you did nothing wrong, except ask him to do what he was supposed to do. And then it’s like these big reactions. So yeah, We have to understand, again what we’re doing to create Yuck, we have no idea. That’s why I teach parents what the yucky is that we’re creating, and then how to teach them coping skills like this problem solving skills, I can give you a couple of tips for how to teach them problem solving skills. Would you like that? Yeah, let’s do. Because these can be really fun. Actually, I love teaching problem solving skills or flexible thinking skills. So how do we do this outside of the moment, one of the ways we can do this, it’s super fun and a nine year old was silly. And this is just a dinner like casually not related to problems, he has come up with problems that are fun to solve. And then as a family, solve them all together. So you can say something like, Okay, imagine you’re in an airport. And there is an announcement that comes over that you have to run to your, you have to run to your gate, but you’re really far behind. And someone’s in your way, what do you do, let’s come up with all the possible solutions. So we want to teach their brain is whenever there’s a problem, there are multiple solutions. And when you actually do this in a fun way, their brain starts to enjoy problem solving. And they start to flex their problem solving muscles so that in a stressful situation, their brain automatically defaults to problem solving, and not seeing the problem as a problem. But seeing a problem is something they can solve. So that’s one way to a fun way to teach problem solving. I’ve lots of other ways, but that’s one fun way.
Toni-Ann Mayembe 21:18
Yeah, yeah, no, I like that. Because as soon as you said it, I was like, I already know what my husband’s gonna say, and I know what the little guy is coming. It’s gonna be pretty fun, and especially here in the responses to so what if they say something that’s like, totally off the wall? It’s like, Nah, bro, that’s not going to work. Like, how would you correct it so we can get them back on track? Greg, great,
Rachel Bailey 21:37
great question. So I do a lot of teaching parents how to interact with their kids. So that’s always a question, what do you do if their response is silly or inappropriate, or whatever. So the first thing is, don’t get sucked into that and think, Oh, it was supposed to go this way. And it didn’t go. That’s we don’t want to do that. We want to just sort of join kids where they are. So let’s say your son’s response to this whole airport thing was, well, let’s get a spaceship and bring it into the airport in the spaceship, and you’re like, Nah, it’s not going to work. What you would say is, oh, my gosh, that would be so fun. Let’s get 10 spaceships and let’s like fly them up. So you kind of get into it with them. So they see that you’re not against them. And then you could say something like, Hey, you know, I don’t think that one’s gonna work. Why don’t we try some more that might actually work because maybe we could sell this idea to people, like you just get into it with them, instead of getting upset by it. We want to work with them instead of against
Toni-Ann Mayembe 22:23
them. Gotcha. Gotcha. I like that. I like that. Yeah, cuz I know my kids. And I know, I’m gonna get some really interesting responses for helpful. So yeah, Rachel, you’ve given us a lot of really great tips. I’m already ready to go pick up my kid and try this out right now. It’s cool. I’m super excited. I’m so glad that you talked to us about the yuck and how we’re creating some of this yuck. And now I My eyes are wide open now because I see like, how something small and what I’ve seen is insignificant can be such a huge, big deal to to my little guys. So I’m super grateful for you in all the tips that you shared. I’m just wondering if there was anything else you wanted to leave with us? Before we signed off?
Rachel Bailey 23:08
What I would say is because we want to stop seeing our kids behavior is something that triggers us when possible, it’s not always possible, is that we want to remember whatever behavior we see whatever emotion we see, there is actually a reason for it. And not only will that help us hopefully feel more in control. And I will say there’s always a reason no one stumped me and my 13 years of doing this, no one’s ever stopped me, I’ve always figured out the reason, there is always a reason so we can feel more in control. And also we can approach our children differently. If we realize they’re actually having a problem not being a problem. We it actually helps us feel better, and it helps us approach them in a way that is way more effective. So that’s what we want to remember.
Toni-Ann Mayembe 23:51
Yes, yes. And thank you for that about the emotions that we see there’s a reason for it. Because a lot of times we think, Oh, it’s just them just being kids like no, there’s
Rachel Bailey 24:00
always a reason without exception. There’s always a reason I thought it was a clear one, but it’s there.
Toni-Ann Mayembe 24:05
Yes. Got it. Got it. Now, Rachel, if we want to hear more of what you got as far as parenting, and even just learn more about you, where can we find you online.
Rachel Bailey 24:14
So probably the best place is my podcast, which is called your parenting long game. And I have a Facebook group that goes with it. It’s called your parenting long game podcast community. I’ve also created a a video series specifically for parents of children with big emotions. And I actually created a unique URL just for your show. So you can find that I’ll give it to you as well. But you can find that on my website, Rachael dash bailey.com And then it has the link to your show right afterwards. So I’ll send it to you so people can see it in your show notes, but it ends with real happy mom. So you’re gonna see that and then I’m hopefully gonna have you on my podcast so people can hear from you as well on mine.
Toni-Ann Mayembe 24:56
Yes, definitely. And I will for sure, make sure those links are in the show notes and you So I will be there, Rachel on the podcast. Excellent. Now, Rachel, thank you so much for coming on the podcast again, and being so awesome, and sharing all these great tips. I really, really appreciate it.
Rachel Bailey 25:11
Thanks for having me.
Toni-Ann Mayembe 25:14
Now, that does it for this week’s episode of The Real happy mom podcast. To find the links in the show notes that were mentioned here today, head on over to Real happy mom.com/ 180. There you’ll find all the links that Rachel mentioned, as well as a cliff note version of this episode. And do me a favor if you found this helpful. And you know that there’s another mom out there that could use some help. Go ahead and share this episode, because one of my big goals is to get this podcast out to as many moms as possible, and I need your help to do just that. If you do that, I’d be super super grateful and super appreciative. And as always, please make sure that you stay tuned next week for another full episode. Take care in with lots of