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122: Meltdowns & Loneliness

By July 7, 2020November 8th, 2023Mastermind Parenting Podcast
122: Meltdowns & Loneliness

This month on the podcast, I’m talking about the roots of meltdown behavior…for all humans. We often use the term “meltdown” to describe a young child’s explosive behavior.

However, I want to invite you to consider looking at your own behavior as well. When humans feel unsafe or outta control on the inside, we act out those feelings with outta control behavior on the outside.

It may look like explosiveness, numbing or “over” behaviors like overeating, over drinking, over shopping, over gossiping, yelling, blaming or even shutting down and checking out, which is called dissociation.

These behaviors are incredibly isolating and cause so much loneliness and disconnection. It’s a sign that we haven’t learned healthier ways of managing big feelings – something every human experiences.

We all go through hard things and experience discomfort. When we lack the skills to manage our big feelings, we ease the discomfort in other ways and develop coping skills.

By understanding this very common issue for many of us and learning to begin seeing our kids’ negative behaviors differently, we’re able to develop new skills and in turn support our kids more productively.

This is why becoming a Mastermind parent is a hugely healing process for you, your kids and your entire family. THIS is the real journey in my opinion.

We all just wanna feel better and learn to support ourselves and the people we love better. I’m so glad you’re here. Love y’all!

As always, thanks for listening, and be sure and head over to Facebook and you can join my free group Mastermind Parenting Community, where we post tips and tools and do pop up Live conversations where I do extra teaching and coaching to support you in helping your strong-willed children so that they can FEEL better and DO better. If you enjoyed this episode and think that others could benefit from listening, please share it!

About Randi Rubenstein

Randi Rubenstein helps parents with a strong-willed kiddo become a happier family and enjoy the simple things again like bike rides and beach vacays.

She’s the founder of Mastermind Parenting, host of the Mastermind Parenting podcast, and author of The Parent Gap. Randi works with parents across the U.S.

At Mastermind Parenting, we believe every human deserves to have a family that gets along.

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0 (2s):
My name’s Randi Rubenstein and welcome to the Mastermind Parenting Podcast where we believe when your thoughts grow the conversations in your home flood.

1 (15s):
So the same as the Mastermind Parenting Podcast with Randi Rubenstein episode one 22 as well. Hi guys, welcome to this week’s podcast. Actually, this month, I’m doing something a little differently. I wanted to do a month on meltdowns. So this is July is meltdown month, and we’re going to look closer at our kids’ Meltdowns on our own. Meltdowns why do we have Meltdowns and really dig underneath? And it’s different than I think the way Meltdowns are typically thought of or talking about.

1 (58s):
I think the term meltdown is even sort of, it conjures up for many of us, a thought of like the toddler on the floor, kicking and screaming. And the truth of the matter is, is that people have meltdowns at all ages, right? Like there’s plenty of grown-up Meltdowns that happened. And there’s plenty of teenage Meltdowns that happened. And I want to sort of just get underneath it and help you to look at when a meltdown is happening a little differently. Like, why are we having them? And as we all know, when we try to just shove a bandaid on it’s like shoving a band-aid on top of a bleeding wound, when we want to say, or do just the right things.

1 (1m 45s):
Like there’s more to the equation. When people get out of any age or go to a Meltdowns state, there’s more to the problem. There really is an, and so I feel like for me to just say here’s three tips on how to manage your kid’s Meltdowns, it’s really, it’s just, it’s not even ethical because there’s so much more to the equation. And there’s so much that I think all of us don’t understand. So I’m going to go more in depth on this topic this entire month. And I want you to join me on this journey. And I invite you to sort of open your mind and, and be willing to possibly hear some things that you haven’t thought about before and to look at it differently because at the end of the day, what we really want to accomplish is we want to, we want to be the grownups, right?

1 (2m 43s):
Like, like we want to be those calm, centered, grounded grownups that I think it’s the reason why most of us beat ourselves up after we have a meltdown moment ourselves and we shift into blaming our kids, blaming the situation, blaming our life story, blaming blame, blame, blame, blame, blame, right? Wherever there’s blame, shame is close by shame and blame go together like peanut butter and jelly, shame and blame. So whenever your, but you’re, my kids are more difficult. You haven’t met my kid. I don’t have an easy kid like them, all the other kids do X, Y, and Z.

1 (3m 27s):
And my kid does it differently. Or I lose my cool because I have a hard kid or I have I’m so worried about money in all those other people, staying calm. They don’t have the same money worries or whatever it is, right? Like it’s so hard to take accountability for our own Meltdowns. And so we it’s painful. It really is painful. And so we deflect and blame as a way of deflection. So when we are melting down, obviously are, we are not modeling the behavior. We seek, you know, our kids learn by what we model and not by what we tell them to do.

1 (4m 8s):
We have to actually do it. We have to walk the walk and it’s hard. This stuff is hard. You guys, so I want to dig in deeper and just have, like, we always do here. I’m just, I want to start a real conversation about topics that affect most families. I know. And, and just invite you guys to look at things maybe a little deeper and a little differently than you have before. So one of the things I want to say is, is I just recently, I, I shouldn’t say binge, but I sort of binged a show and I’ve binged a show it’s called normal people. Someone told me about it.

1 (4m 50s):
It deeply effected me. And I think many of us, and we don’t think of television as art, right? Because it’s like a television. It’s just like a pastime. But if you really think about art, you think about art being an expressive way to tell a story, to bring people to some kind of experience that allows them to feel emotions, really like that’s what art does and when it’s beautiful and when it touches us, right? Like we feel things from art. So whatever the medium is, it might be a, it might be a sculpture.

1 (5m 31s):
It might be art that you would find in a museum, but it also might be a movie or a book or television show. Right? So when we start to explore stories and they’re done in an artistic way where we feel deep emotions, like when you’re watching something and it brings you to intense laughter or, or tears, that’s art touching you. And it can actually happen during, during the day a Netflix bingeing moment. And actually, I don’t think it shows on Netflix, but you’ll just have to Google to find out where it is. So anyway, it’s called normal people and somebody told me to watch it.

1 (6m 13s):
And the first episode, I wasn’t sure I was going to stick with it and I did stick with it. And I’ve just been thinking about it all week. It really caused me to think about a lot of things. So I’m going to, if you haven’t watched normal people over the course of the next month, I’m going to be referring back to the show and talking about some examples from the show. So spoiler alert, don’t listen to this week’s podcast episodes. If you plan on watching normal people, or if you haven’t watched it yet, and you get curious, you may want to just pause and go and watch the show and then come back to these episodes because I don’t, I can not stand it when people spoil things, I love surprises.

1 (7m 1s):
And it drives me crazy when I’m like, you know, somebody tells me what is going to happen in a show or we’re in a book. And I’m like, why didn’t you do that? Just took the fun out of it. So I don’t want to be the fun killer for you. So make sure that you go and watch it on your own. So, so I watched the show and one of the things like in the very first episode, I was trying to figure it out. And the, the key character and the show is this girl and she’s in high school and she’s like a social misfit. And, and it turns out she’s the rich girl. And she was very isolated.

1 (7m 44s):
She doesn’t have any friends at school. She has a chip on her shoulder. She’s really bright. She’s nasty to the other kids. She is nasty to the teachers. She’s not likable. Okay. She’s not likable. Her body language is like, she, you know, she’s, she’s just very sort of shut down as a person. And, and the interesting thing is, is that you really, you really don’t like her much and it’s even hard sort of to feel compassion for it to feel sorry for her, because she doesn’t make it easy to like, she, like, she’s, she’s speaking out and she’s being nasty.

1 (8m 31s):
And you just sorta don’t like her in your kind of like, yeah. When you see the other kids being mean to her or the teacher coming down hard on her, you’re sort of like, or I was like, she kind of deserves it, like, like she is a creep and there was more to the story as the show moves on. But the thing that got me so much in, in, in those early episodes, in the first like two episodes was just like, even though she wasn’t likable, she had such a deep sadness and loneliness to her. And I think Loneliness, this is something that we just don’t talk about a lot in our school.

1 (9m 17s):
And, you know, when people go to a place of having a meltdown, right, where that’s the thing with Meltdowns is just like this key character and the show. But yeah, you know, people, aren’t very likable when they’re having a meltdown, they are not enjoyable. And so, so it’s hard to feel that connection. So when, when people are going to this place phase of non likability, for a lack of a better term, I think is important. Yeah. To look at Loneliness ’cause when we really want to understand what’s happening.

1 (10m 3s):
When there is a meltdown, we got to see what’s brewing before the storm hits. And I, I think that quite often a deep sense of loneliness, it’s such a painful thing to feel alone. And I think it is more prevalent in our culture than we realize. And I think quite often, a lot of times the kids that seem the most shut down, or the meanest, the most unlikable people are actually quite lonely. You know, we have a human primal need to belong, to light, to belong to a pack, to belong to a tribe.

1 (10m 51s):
Its a primal it’s primal for us. And if anybody’s familiar with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, like it comes right after food and shelter. So belonging knowing that we are pack animals. That’s why I always use the term pack leadership. I, we we’re the leaders as the parents were really the leaders of our pack. We’re humans are meant to belong to a pack and, and we do it with our families of origin. We create packs, kids go to school and create their own little PACS in their own little cliques kids who have been missing that feeling of belonging connection.

1 (11m 36s):
Quite often, those are the, those are the people who are susceptible to joining gangs. You know, if that’s something that is a part of your community or culture, or even if it’s not understanding why gangs exist, it’s all just of that primal need to belong. ’cause loneliness and isolation feels, it feels like pain. It feels like pain. That, that, it’s hard to even put words too. And so kids who aren’t feeling that sense, like when we used the term connection, right? We’re just saying like, you know who you belong with and you feel seen and heard and valued and worthy and understood by, by that buy those people.

1 (12m 24s):
So when your missing that, when you come from a family where there is disconnection, where there is a lot of discord where people aren’t feeling like they are knowing each other in a positive way at all. And I think a lot of families are going through this. A lot of people go through this. It is deeply lonely for every member. So a lot of times it’s funny because even people who seem like they go with everyone, they always have plans. They have such, you know, a strong family connection is they call each other 25 times a day when they get older.

1 (13m 6s):
A lot of the times that, that isn’t what I’m talking about. That a lot of times that that’s codependency and that is, we don’t even know how to belong in a positive, connected way. We belong in this unhealthy dysfunctional way where there’s always a lot of bickering or fighting or, and not having honest conversations. So I think Loneliness is more and more prevalent in our society than we realize. I think that it’s something that is so painful to look at that most of us haven’t even really looked at it and I’ve even heard that it’s, it’s a, it’s a really unresearched phenomenon.

1 (13m 47s):
So when I watched that show, those first couple of episodes, the thing that struck me the most was her deep, deep Loneliness. She was the rich girl from a family that you didn’t ever see them really talking or connecting. And when they did, it was just like, there was tension everywhere. You could tell. There was just, you could tell that stuff has gone down. And, and so the only connection she really had was there was this nice housekeeper who was warm and she kind of would sit on the counter and after school and talk with the housekeeper and, and the housekeeper really seemed just normal and warm and lovely.

1 (14m 34s):
And, and so you’d see this girl just totally shut down at school with a chip on her shoulder, a being nasty, that teacher is nasty to her peers and then she’d come home and she’d be sitting on the counter, like a little kid dangling her feet. I’m talking to the while she cleaned or cooked or whatever. And, and you just sense how badly she wanted to connect with someone else. And so why is this relevant? When I talk about Meltdowns I think just like this character, you know, the, the armor she wore at school because she was in deep pain and she wasn’t feeling connected and she was, she didn’t, she didn’t feel really worthy of human connection because she wasn’t getting that Love cup filled at home at all.

1 (15m 29s):
And so he or she came to school and she wore this, she wore this really, you know, harsh armor around her so that no one could even penetrate it. So no one I think could hurt her even more deeply than she already was hurt. And I think so often our kids that are prone to Meltdowns, they are they’re hurting. They are acting on the outside of the way they feel on the inside. And I think quite often they do feel misunderstood. They do feel like there’s no one that they can turn to, to help them get their needs met or develop the skills that they need to develop tools, to deal with the big emotions going on inside their bodies.

1 (16m 19s):
And so they act on the outside in that, out of control way, the way they feel on the inside because they feel out of control on the inside. So we are, you know, understanding that I think also helps us to kind of shift perspective because the thing is that these kids, when they are behaving like that, just like the character on the, on the show, her name is Maryanne, just like Maryanne. They are not likable, right? Like you don’t really want to help for, or help them or root for them. And so a lot of times other kids are not drawn to them and other teachers are not drawn to them.

1 (17m 7s):
And even you as their parent, you love them. But especially when you have other children on the scene and they’re acting out in these ways and it’s affecting your other children, you love these kids, but there’s probably lots of moments where you don’t like them because they’re not very likable. And so, so that’s just something to sort of understand and look at. Okay. So if we talk about Y a meltdown, like what exactly is it and why it occurs? I think it’s important to understand that, you know, meltdown is that your child has had, or, or anybody having a meltdown, whether it’s an adult yelling at another adult refusing to listen, getting defensive, going into a place of blame and just not being a calm centered grounded grown-up.

1 (18m 6s):
So whether it’s a little kid who’s kicking and screaming, whether it’s a teenager, who’s, who’s being snarky and nasty and eye rolling and name-calling, or whether it’s an adult, who’s blaming the world for their problems and their inability to remain calm and to problem solve when a curve ball comes their way in life. It’s important to understand that it’s just a person that’s having trouble regulating themselves do to a negative emotion. Okay. So the coping mechanism for the big negative emotion, right, their coping mechanism is an explosive release, otherwise known as a meltdown.

1 (18m 52s):
And so that explosive release, I want you to understand why that explosive release happens. It happens because when you are feeling dysregulated caused by a big emotion, a big negative emotion inside your body, you have a high stress hormones during those moments, people of all ages. And when you have an explosive release, it actually gives you a little bit of like, like a counter balancing hormone. Okay. So you’d get a little bit of an adrenaline rush. And what that does is temporarily it lowers those stress hormones, those cortisol levels.

1 (19m 38s):
So it actually is a coping mechanism. And that’s why a lot of times, if your kids, if you find that you have, you have a kid that’s, you know, has a highly sensitive, nervous system, you know, that they just sort of, they come home from school and they’re just in a pissed off mood. And they just sort of, they were maybe the baby that cried all the time. There are just more sensitive to life to smells, to taste to energy. There just a person that has, that fuels everything very intensely and very deeply. That’s why a lot of times I’ll call them. Strong-willed kids that have a strong will because they take in everything at a heightened degree.

1 (20m 21s):
Okay. And, and so, so when they take in everything, it can get, it can feel out of whack. It can feel wonky in their body a lot. And all of us are looking for that, you know, for that state of, of kind of balanced and peace, we don’t want it to feel wonky. So we look for any way that we can start to feel better, that we can, you know, heighten some other counterbalancing chemical in our body to feel better. So the reason why any of us do any over behaviors like overeating exists because it’s a quick hit, it’s a quick chemical hit where you feel better temporarily.

1 (21m 10s):
I mean, that’s the reason why you ever eat the sleeve of, you know, thin mints or whatever it is. If you look at it right before you go into that emotional eating episode, I look at where you were and what happened. Sometimes it’s something that’s obviously stressful that happened. And then you’re just like, you know, looking for a quick fix, have you just, all of a sudden we get a craving. And so your body has learned that when you put chemicals from food in your body, especially like sugar, if you instantly feel happy, even though you are going to crash 30 minutes later, or you’re going to be hungry again, for more, it is a temporary release, right?

1 (21m 50s):
So it’s like, if you, if you went through childbirth in your going through the pain of childbirth in somebody like, Hey, you want that epidural now it’s, you know, it, sometimes it can be hard to be like, no, I don’t want the epidural. I just want to feel the pain I’ll breathe through it. That’s why most people don’t do natural childbirth is because they, you know, they are, it’s like when the pain is here and it’s intense and in our culture, we haven’t been, we haven’t been taught to feel feelings of discomfort. It’s hard to just breathe through the pain, especially when you haven’t strengthened that muscle. So you don’t have the skills to do it. Well, that’s the same thing. When any humans are experiencing a meltdown of their body’s feeling dysregulated.

1 (22m 36s):
And so it feels bad and they look for any possible quick way to feel better. And so that explosive release is a way that they can feel better. And then if you, if you start to admonish it, admonish them and engage in a power, struggle with them. And then it becomes a game on a screaming match. It actually ends up being a pattern that sort of serves them because they get the adrenaline rush from fighting with you. So I think that, you know, understanding that your child isn’t having Meltdowns, you’re not having Meltdowns ’cause, you guys are intentionally thinking that that’s the way to, to, to feel better or to solve problems.

1 (23m 25s):
It’s just a habitual pattern that you’ve gotten into. And I don’t think there’s any way to truly break a habitual pattern unless you fully understand why it’s here and why it exists. So, so learning about this stuff and getting underneath, getting to the roots of it, I think is super important and powerful. And, and also understanding that, you know, if you have a child that is prone to explosive Meltdowns, and you know, this is a child that is, that’s got like, you know, a sensory thing where maybe, maybe it’s something a little, maybe it was something bigger where tags were itchier noises, we’re louder, smells, we’re smellier, or, you know, they don’t, they’re, they’re really prone to certain types of foods.

1 (24m 22s):
And they really can not, it makes them gag to eat certain types of foods or a certain textures, if there’s any kind of sensory component, like there’s, there’s more to really understand here and, and patients’ is needed. But I think When, I think for most of us, we accidentally exacerbate the Meltdowns because we get so reactive because we take their behavior personally. And we think that they think they are running the show. They don’t have respect for us. We make it mean something about us, right? So we have sentences in our head that says I had my kids out of control.

1 (25m 2s):
You know, maybe are the invisible parent you’re a parent has on your shoulder or some other judgemental person that you envision on your shoulder. How I would never have let you treat me like this. And so your deep down being like, how could I have a kid that thinks it’s okay to behave this way? Like, and then that triggers like a deep sense of I’m failing at this job. That’s my most important job. Like my own kid doesn’t even treat me with respect and my parents never would have put up with this. And the next thing you know, we go into that super high stressed, triggered state as well.

1 (25m 42s):
And, and its just like the clowns who are running the circus because our wounded child self is responding and over-reacting to their, you know, actual wounded child self and, and its just, you know, it it’s just a mess. It’s just a mess. And then everybody’s mad at each other and what are we get when everybody’s mad at each other or everybody’s walking on eggshells? Cause you never know what’s gonna set the other person off. What you get is that a disconnected family unit. And then you have deeply lonely people who aren’t talking to each other and don’t know how to talk to each other. And it doesn’t feel safe to talk to each other.

1 (26m 22s):
And that feels super lonely and super isolating. And, and it isn’t a sense of emotional safety. It does make us all feel fearful of, of being all alone and not really knowing who were, we can, you know, where we can turn to, if we need help. So fear and safety, all of those things get conjured up. We’re going to be looking more deeply at those topics this month when it comes to Meltdowns and M and then we are also going to get to the last episode of the month, I’m going to really talk about boundaries and leadership and why that is the solution and why, when you, when you fully understand what is, what is PAC leadership?

1 (27m 20s):
How do I establish boundaries? Why are they necessary? Really understanding that ultimately that is the solution because what boundaries, you know, we’ve all heard, okay. Kids love structure. And they’re like, really? Why are they are always pushing limits then? But the boundaries and being able to establish boundaries and follow through on boundaries, when you are able to do that from a place of loving leadership, PAC leadership, what it does is it helps everyone in the family to feel safe. And when that happens, you find that people feel more grounded and, and, and, and hence they get more emotional regulation, right?

1 (28m 8s):
So all of that dysregulation that happens when you are wired with a sensitive, nervous system, when you have somebody who shows up in your life and puts boundaries around certain behaviors and they know how to enforce it without shaming and blaming. Well, all of a sudden you have a kid that it starts to feel safer and the world starts to feel more connected, starts to feel like they can learn new tools to help them feel better when they’re having big feelings and to manage those big feelings, a better alternative than an explicit meltdown. So that’s really the solution.

1 (28m 49s):
So I’m going to unpack that more for you guys this month. And I think we’re going to touch on some really interesting topics. I’m going to talk more about that show and I would love to know from you guys, if you have more questions about this, if this is resonating, I would love to know your own personal stories about these topics, especially the one that is just intriguing to me. And I really haven’t heard, discussed much is all about Loneliness. I know that that has been a theme of my own life and, and I’d love to know what, how it’s shown up for you guys. So if you have anything you’d like to share with me, please feel free to email me at info at Randi Rubenstein dot com.

1 (29m 35s):
Okay. Have a great great week. And I’ll talk to you.

0 (29m 40s):
Are you ready to start having conversations to have you been listening to the podcast for a while? And you hear me go through my three step PRODUCTIVE conversation processes to solve any problem and your thinking, how does she do that? Guess what? I made a really cool resource for you guys, a call it the problem solving one sheet, okay. It’s one sheet front and back. So, you know, take it with a grain of salt, but it will walk you through how to have productive conversations and you will practice. And before you know, it you’ll be having productive conversations all day, every day. It really is the solution to solve any problem. So you can download it at Mastermind Parenting dot com forward slash problem-solving all one word that’s Mastermind Parenting dot com forward slash a problem solving all one word.

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