Parenting: Nixing Grumpiness with a Guess

guessKeep them intrigued

When our kids were small, one of the best ways to nix grumpiness and fighting was to spring a surprise on them. Sometimes I didn’t even know what the surprise was, but I pretended until I had time to come up with something as a surprise. Kids love to help guess.

A surprise takes the “grump” out of grumpiness. It removes the tension from fighting, and alleviates the stress from tiredness. It’s amazing how twisting things around to a surprise can lift the cloud on a household.

The purpose of the guessing

The purpose of keeping your kids guessing – or coming up with a surprise – is to deflect the tension. When all hands are focused on tension, scolding or Time Out will usually not dissipate the tension. Changing the subject (or the focus) usually works better than commanding kids to quit the grumpiness. When your kids have to guess, it intrigues them and keeps them engaged.

I know there are times a kid just needs to go to his room to give everyone else space. Sometimes he is the one who needs space. There are times when you have to lower the boom and assert your authority. Yet, most times when there is not outright rebellion, a surprise or twist in the day can change tears to smiles. That’s when you let your kids guess.

Using Your voice – making him guess

Use your voice to suggest surprise, intrigue, or awe at something. Whisper or lower your voice so your child has to really pay attention and listen. When you child has to lean in to listen, it makes him guess what is coming next.

Insert a sad tone or expression to heighten the drama or inflect excitement as you whisper dramatically. It works, when you do it right and when your child isn’t old enough to figure out what you’re doing. ūüôā¬†

guessFinding the lost smile

When your child is forevermore grumpy and nothing suits him, when you can’t seem to break him out of his doldrums, say something like, “Oh my goodness. You lost something! I wonder if we should go find it!”¬†

You can continue the charade even longer if he’s still pouting. “I wonder if it is hiding? I wonder where it is hiding? Should we go find it? Do you think we can find it or is it just hiding so well that we will have to look and look?!” Let your child guess what he has lost before you tell him. This reins him in to the game.

Tell your child he must have left his smile in his bedroom. Maybe it’s under the bed or in the closet. Maybe it flew out to the mailbox! Perhaps it is hiding under the pillow. Go with him to his room and say, “Let’s find that silly smile. It belongs on your face and not under the bed!”¬†

You can talk to the smile. “Where are you hiding, you silly smile? We are going to find you!”

Help your child “find” that smile and “put it” on his face. If your child is still not ready to smile, you can say something like, “You silly smile! You are all crooked on Tommy’s face. Let me help you get on his face so you are not crooked.” The tone of your voice, teasing that silly smile, is sure to bring a smile to your child’s face.

Getting a surprise – from a Guess

Some days I’d tell my kids, “I thought maybe today we could have the surprise I have hidden, but it looks like it’s too grumpy a day.” I remember doing this one time when I had no idea what the “surprise” was. I kept the charade up long enough until I remembered a book I squirreled away in the closet. My kids had no idea when I started talking about the surprise gift that¬†I had no idea what the surprise was! This book had stickers with activities to do on the pages. I remember the relief I felt when my kids became so engrossed in this book that they forgot their squabbles.¬†

Pick up items when you’re in town – the things you don’t really need, but your kids will love. Put them away for a teary, grouchy, rainy day and bring them out with fanfare. This is so much fun for the mom as well as the kids!

Rewarding with applause 

Our kids don’t always need a new toy or gift. Sometimes they need to be challenged to compete against their own time or a sibling’s time. Set a timer to see how fast they can pick up the toys.¬†

“Wind them up” and then watch them work fast. Our kids loved to work fast after I “wound them up” and then come back to me to be “wound up again”. You can encourage them to work fast and then say, “Oh my goodness, I think you need to be wound up again!”¬†

I must have done this for our grandson a few weeks ago. The other day when it was time to pick up his toys, he backed up to me and said, “Wind me up, Grandma.”

I grabbed the back of his shirt, “wound him up,” and hooted at how fast he worked. “You make me dizzy because you are working so fast,” I said.

Sometimes I’d tell my kids, “I don’t think there’s any way you can clean up that mess in ten minutes, but if you do, you can have a treat.” Tell a kid he can’t do something fast enough, and he’ll want to prove you wrong. Race against the clock with your child. See who can finish a job first.¬†¬†

Fun and games – and making your kids guess

Take the doldrums out of grumpy days by keeping your child guessing. You’re still the one in charge and he cannot demand his way; yet you can help send the grumpiness away. Work does not have to be all work; it can be fun and games as well. Grouchiness does not need to win. When you keep your kids guessing, everyone wins, and home is a happier place.

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