Don’t Feed Crabby Crab!
As every parent knows (or at least should know), children are basically emotions driven. They are not born with the ability to process and display emotions productively. It’s up to us to teach them how to process their emotions and in turn, their attitudes, appropriately and with filters in place. This goes beyond just socially acceptable displays of how they are feeling at any given moment. It is a life skill that will serve them well in public and private.
Don’t get me wrong in what I’m saying here. Emotions are not wrong and should be expressed. After all, they are a God given processor for things we experience or encounter personally. They serve us well. But….unfiltered emotions left alone to grow untamed and be used for the purpose of manipulation serves to only create problems. Let’s face it. Whining, fits of anger or acute sensitivity to events and surroundings is just not a productive lot for anyone.
So guess what we’ve been addressing in the Moore household? Yes, unfiltered emotions from our little guy. It’s something that we have been dealing with on and off for some time now. Recent and sudden changes in our lives have taken their toll on his little mind and emotions and I can see that he’s had a very difficult time processing all of it and how he feels about them. We’ve been getting outbursts, expressions of anger from frustrations he just doesn’t know how to process and whining when he doesn’t get what he wants or thinks is fair. Normal for some and at an earlier age. Not normal for us and at almost 7 years old. He’s pretty much always been very loving and kind and happy and yes, pretty cooperative. That’s why I’m fairly certain it is the changes that have occurred in our lives over the past 12 – 18 months that has triggered this new behavior. He’s not out to be mean, manipulative or disobedient. He just needs help processing and addressing in a positive way.
After a fast, loud and grind on my last nerve morning of continual whining earlier this week, I was at my wits end. This was becoming a daily occurrence. Nothing seemed to work. Not talking or coaxing in the right direction. Not grounding or time outs. Not repeated threats of punishment. Nothing! I had to find a solution that would help my son learn how to process his emotions productively and how to filter and funnel them into positive behaviors and attitudes. Then, I had an “idea” that I hope will teach him how to do just that and to hopefully help all of us learn that there is a cost when we allow our emotions to control us.
Meet Crabby Crab!
This funky little fella may not be pretty but he’s been pretty effective so far. He’s actually an independent art project that my son had made earlier in the school year. I had put this creative little sea critter in our learning center because my child had made it for me and of course I loved it.
When he was having his “emotions driven” morning, I found myself tempted to…dare I say?…. banish him to his room forever with no TV, games or anything fun…EVER! Instead, I asked his dad to take him out to his furniture workshop with him while I simmered down and collected my own emotions. Honestly, they were quite scattered and running amuck.
While I was cooling down, thinking about the whole situation…and praying (A LOT), I saw the crab sitting atop the school materials cart just a waving his little red claws at me. Then it hit me. Crabby Crab! Thank you Lord. A behavioral teaching tool that taps into my son’s love of games and can be used for the good of all of us. And Don’t Feed Crabby Crab! was born. The “tool” is very much like a “cuss jar”. Anyone ever had or seen one of those? Well, the concept is the same, just on a kid’s level.
Since I heard the guys coming in from the workshop, I very quickly wrote a few things on the little boxy dude so as not to forget and to explain in quick words what he was and made a slit in the tape on his back. Not the best or most thought out plan of action but sometimes, you have to move fast.
Here’s how Crabby Carb works. He’s a hungry little crusty critter but he’s also greedy…..and such a picky eater. You see, Crabby Crab only eats money….we call them crabby coins. Specifically, he eats nickels, dimes and quarters. And he doesn’t give them back…ever. However, he only gets to eats crabby coins whenever any of us are being “CRABBY”. If any of us (yes, including my husband and myself) is crabby, whiney, has an angry outburst, or displays negative emotions in a hurtful or destructive way, we have to feed Crabby Crab a meal of crabby coins in an amount to be determined by the others.
The object of our ongoing game is to NEVER FEED CRABBY CRAB. When you do, it costs you. So when either one of us is on the verge of feeding this greedy little Gus a meal, one of us will say, “Don’t feed Crabby Crab! He’ll take your money until you have none. And then he’ll run.” That’s the trigger to make us aware of our emotions, behavior and attitude. Then we sit down to talk about what is going on, why we feel like we do and how to express our emotions in a positive way.
It’s actually fun, make that funny. Usually, when someone says our little game rhyme, we’ll start to giggle, which defuses the current atmosphere of negative emotions. Even the dog was told not to feed Crabby Crab just moments ago, when she was startled awake from dream when the Little Man started petting her and growled him. That brought lots of giggles….and explanations of why she didn’t have any coins or know what money is.
So far, no one has had to feed Crabby Crab any crabby coin meals. If we do find that Crabby Crab should eventually get full, the meals he’s consumed will be donated to a church or a worthy charity to feed children real food. Win-Win!
There you have it. A silly but working solution that’s helping us and it may just help you or someone you know dealing with unbridled emotions in their home. I invite you to take this idea. Make it your own to use in your own family dynamics. And by all means, have a bit of fun with it.
From my at home world to yours!