Monday, December 12

learning grumpies

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?' 
'By crying.'
'That's right darling. And then a hug............. I love you so much.'
'I love you too mummy'


  1. Its takes a lot of love and patience to react like that! i alawys find my kids become super frustracted and grumpy when they are developing a new skill or tacklng something new. I like your method, I need someone to do the same for me some days too!! x

  2. How special to have a mommy who helps you not only recognize your feelings, but helps you deal with them in a safe and loving way! I personally feel this is the key in raising healthy human beings. We punch pillows at our house too. Hugs to your growing baby...

  3. this is going to be tricky. rowan is already starting with his tantrums. it's kinda funny (because he kicks or stomps his feet like a cliche) at this point, and so interesting. his emotions are soooo raw, unfiltered.

    and that lower quivering lip... that is just so heartbreaking.

  4. I love that you didn't try to "cheer her up", distract her or make her feel her emotions were negative and should be suppressed. I must find a cushion for myself, 'twould help!

  5. It's wonderful that you can really be there with her. My 3 1/2 y-o really needs that too. But with 3 little ones in the house I find it harder to really be there with her. But it works, it really does. And yes, definitely, we have noticed with all of ours that a big learning or new brain growth coincides with crankies - it does for mamas too!

  6. Melt melt, this was so awesome. You're such a good mama. I often wonder how my life would have been different growing up if someone told me that it was okay to scream, to cry, to just let it out :)...And she's reading at 3 1/2! She is her mother's daughter :).

  7. We went through a phase like this, where I had to help him get it out. These days he just seems to cry so easily, that all I really need to do is open up my arms for him to run in.

    So great you can do this for her. :)

  8. So true. I love your reaction. I feel the same. Feelings are so important and how lovely to respect them and help her express them! It melts me when our son looks at me and says, "I HAVE A FEELING!!" Even if he can't fully express it or find the word he too is learning to recognize it. I don't mind our son, Z expressing himself but I have a hard time if he hits or gets super rude to other people. It makes me feel a little lost. Love to you both!

  9. Just found your blog today....excited to read more-love it!!!! The Luna Sol Girls

  10. Just found your blog today....excited to read more-love it!!!! The Luna Sol Girls

  11. I am thrilled to have found my way to this lovely space of yours. This particular post, too. The grumps and easily frustrated moments for our almost five year old are rolling through these days like a freight train. Patience and compassion helps. So do reading posts like this. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Your blog caught my eye. I'm currently parenting a 5 month old baby boy and a 3 year old little girl. I know I can be better... hoping for some insight. I'm also an educator so I'm sure I will have lots of thoughts on your previous blogs. Quickly scanned and read something below. Hope it's okay to follow, new to this whole blogging thing. Peace and blessings.

  13. awesome mama.
    and a good reminder for me.
    thank you!


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