This is our beautiful boy. He has a very happy disposition. He finds joys in almost everything.
He is also a three year old boy . . . and sometimes, when things don’t go just the way he pictured, he takes it quite personally and his entire mood turns immediately sour and demanding.
We call it the Grumples.
Here is where the story of our parenting comes into play. I am realizing that we are practicing patchwork parenting. One of us reads something somewhere that resonates and we give it a try with Cole.
1. Facebook Status
I heard of the grumples on Facebook. A friend that I worked with over a decade ago posted a thank you to her child’s preschool teacher. Cole was an infant but the post stuck with me . . . she said something to the effect that she was appreciative for the teacher sharing with them how to disperse the grumples, that they had just shaken them away.
So when Cole was around 2 and a half, we introduced him to this technique, only we kind of made it up, since it was only one Facebook status that gave us a glimpse. And nine times out of ten we could help him by identifying that he had the grumples and helped him shake them away. He would end up in a flurry of giggles and his mood shifted back quickly.
When Cole turned three he started having bigger tantrums, where he would want to bang or kick or hit when he had a rush of those grumples. And a little shaking in that kind of moment seemed as if it might escalate instead of bring on the giggles.
I was on Pinterest when I discovered the calming jar.
It was easy enough to make: water, glue, and glitter all in a jar. I introduced it to Cole and when he was feeling super frustrated instead of going to a time out we would go to the calming jar. He started asking for it when he felt frustrated. And once all the glitter settled he would take a time out. We only used it for a few weeks and then he was not tantrum-ing any more.
3. Word of Mouth
The next behavior issue we hit arrived a few months later when we found Cole was getting a bit fresh when he had the grumples. We would say something like, “Cole, please go sit in your chair,” and he would respond immediately, “You go sit in your chair!” And then if we tried to introduce some kind of discipline he would escalate.
We knew that we needed to find ways to prevent these grumple attacks. So I grabbed a vase and a bunch of beads we had bought for stringing, and we introduced him to earning beads with his good behavior. We became very proactive and he was earning beads all the time, especially when he used nice words. We told him he would get a present when all the beads were in his cup.
This helped tremendously and he earned himself a Buzz Lightyear toy after a couple of months of really good behavior.
We mentioned in October that we are reading the e-book Parenting with Positive Guidance, we both also signed up for the feed for author, Amanda Morgan’s blog, notjustcute.com
In October she wrote a post about blowing bubbles . . .
I filed it away for a good way to teach when we are next blowing bubbles.
Simultaneously I read a blog post (I don’t remember where it was from now), where the author talked about the importance of breathing. She suggested that when we take a deep breath we breathe out and smile.
So the next time that Cole had the grumples, instead of shaking him or having him shake (not very effective ways for him to help himself in public). We encouraged him to blow the grumples away and then smile.
The next morning at breakfast, on his own when he felt frustrated he stopped, took a second, blew out, smiled and changed his perspective.
The kid is three!
This has become his latest coping skill (and the breathing out and smiling part I am trying to – it works)!
So it is a patchwork kind of parenting. We are all learning about how to help ourselves when we feel frustrated.
And the grumples are making their appearance less and less at our house.