The first two grumpy sessions went by as normal. On her third (very prolonged grumpiness for a 'small' trigger) a tiny bell went off. But that morning, on her 4th big frustration-verging-on-meltdown-but-not-quite-getting-there episode. I realised - ah, something has built up and needs help getting out.
At this age now, 31/2, getting her to release via a tantrum or big cry isn't as easy. Before, simply her own frustration and my own frustration at the situation, got things going nicely. It was fine for her to direct her anger at me to release. But I want her to begin to understand more how having a big cry/scream is what we can do if things have built up to such a level. That having a cry is good and it's not out of anger at me, necessarily.
So I was unsure what to do. She is still young of course.
I asked her if she wanted to cry - NO!!!
I mimicked her angry face, her quivering lip, her stance, feeling her emotions. This helped a little.
I thought of asking her to punch a cushion. This annoyed her. Good. I figured it could work in reverse.
So I took her to a safe place in the kitchen, got down on my knees, and told her to hit the cushion. And kept at it. And it got her angrier and angrier, and she screamed, and finally the tears came out.
I knew there was more, but she wanted a hug and that calmed her down. Perhaps another go if a 'grumpy' comes up.
Then we went upstairs, cuddled under covers, she was better. And she asked to do some reading. So downstairs to fetch the 'big reading book', and then on my way upstairs, BINGO - the grumpy sessions, the pent up emotions... all coincided with her recent huge cognitive leaps in reading! Big leaps, plus little frustrations... of course it was building up.
I'm so glad I can give her this gift - of loving acceptance towards those difficult emotions. A safe place to release.
And after reading, and her being totally relaxed and happy, we chatted about how grumpies want to come out.
'How can we let them out?'
'That's right darling. And then a hug............. I love you so much.'
'I love you too mummy'