The first step in beating the Crabbies is determining which Crabbie or Crabbies are responsible for the problem.
Let’s look at a few scenarios:
Scenario 1: Your child is having a meltdown when he or she is learning to tie their shoes, ride a bike, or jump into a swimming pool. They say, “I can’t do it.” Or, “I am scared!” or, “It’s too hard!”
These words are most definitely associated with Can’t-Do.
Scenario 2: A child yells, “Give me that!” and hits a sibling or peer because, “She took my toy!”
This behavior is definitely an indicator of Get-Along.
Scenario 3: You have asked your children to get ready, so they won’t be late for school, but they continue to dawdle.
These are behaviors associated with Hurry-Up.
Scenario 4: Your children are being generally wild and ignore your pleas to settle down, so they don’t get hurt.
This are behaviors associated with Junk-Food and the King.
The truth is that the Crabbies we have called out in each of the scenarios are problems.
However, another truth is that it is highly likely that these Crabbies are not the primary problem.
We break the Crabbies into two groups:
The Primary Crabbies – Too-Tired, Hungry, Junk-Food and Achy
The Secondary Crabbies – Can’t-Do, Get-Along, Hurry-Up and King
The Primary Crabbies are associated with our physical well-being. When any of these Crabbies are on the scene, we are more vulnerable to the other Crabbies. Likewise, if we have the primary Crabbies in check, the secondary Crabbies are much more manageable.
When determining which Crabbie or Crabbies are interfering with the day, mentally run through the list of primary Crabbies and ask yourself these questions:
If any of the above is an issue, you will need to call out the Primary Crabbie as the main culprit knowing that he brought the Secondary Crabbie along. Sending in more than one Crabbie is one of the King’s favorite tricks – and we CrabbieMasters are onto it!
Make it a good day!
In addition to being lots of fun, the CrabbieMasters is a great tool that can be used for behavioral management. First there are a few basic principles:
Keep the mindset of a CrabbieMaster.
The adult role is to help the child ‘Beat the Crabbies!’
Recognize that the behaviors are associated with Crabbies, but don’t make the mistake of putting all your focus on the behavior.
Since Too-Tired is “The Worst Crabbie in the Universe!” let’s use Too-Tired as an example. The reason Too-Tired is the worst is because when we are tired it is harder for us to beat any of the other Crabbies! There are a whole range of behaviors associated with Too-Tired. Off the top of my head:
I could go on, but I think I made my point. 🙂
As adults we have 3 options:
I have done all of the above. The third one is the one that gets results.
Make it a good day!
Children relate to the Crabbies on a fun and playful level. At the same time, adults appreciate knowing that the skills and values children develop make a difference at home, on the playground, in the classroom, and beyond. It’s a good foundation for lifelong skills.
CrabbieMasters is Imaginary Fun with Real Results
The following list of real results is compiled from what I have seen over the years in my own preschool and through feedback from a variety of professionals who work with children, parents of children I have had in preschool, and former preschoolers who are now adults.
As one former preschool mom put it, the whole CrabbieMasters idea is beneficial for adults and children alike:
“When I’m aware of my thoughts and emotions, I have a choice about what to do with them. I’m less reactive, more thoughtful, and more patient with myself. Of course, sometimes the emotions kick in before I have a chance to pay attention, but I nearly always take stock later to figure them out. It takes practice and conscious attention. The Crabbies program is a non-threatening, deceptively simple way to learn self-awareness for adults and children alike.”
A more detailed discussion of these benefits can be found at CrabbieMasters.
Make it a good day!
Unless I am talking to someone in the world of social work or psychology, the most common initial reaction to the Crabbies and CrabbieMasters concept is, “Oh, that is so cute!”
Believe me when I say that being fun and cute was really all I was going for the first day I went to the door and pretended to be ‘blowing out my Crabbies.’
It had been one of those mornings where things were just off. I was trying my level best to get the attention of my preschool group during circle time. I was getting more and more frustrated because they were goofing around and not listening to me. I just happened to take a deep breath. Wow! I felt better. That’s when I just got up and went to the door and started blowing. I turned around and said, “I think I just blew out my Crabbies.” Spontaneously, the kids all got up, ran over, and gave me a big group hug.
Simply talking about the concept of beating the Crabbies each day changed the dynamic. I was able to get everyone’s attention and the impact this had on my ability to teach was quite dramatic. Little by little we built on the concept. Over time we named the Crabbies and figured out ways to beat them. We became CrabbieMasters!
I knew I had hit on something that worked for me in my setting. It was roughly ten years before I knew why it worked. One of our daughters was working on her PhD at the University of Minnesota studying counseling psychology. She was taking a course and learned about what is called the ‘narrative approach’. This approach uses ‘externalization’ where the principle is that the problem is the problem, the person is not the problem.
If you are interested in more details on the psychology behind CrabbieMasters, Jenna created a few videos that describe Why It Works.
The bottom line is that, out of what I consider dumb luck, I just happened to have hit on a means to address issues in a fun and effective way that stays away from blaming and shaming. This causes children (and adults) to not get defensive, while still taking on the responsibility to do what is needed to beat the Crabbies. The result is that we are all on the same team, working together to make each day a good day. These daily positive interactions between the children and me, and the children and each other, adds up to positive relationships!
Furthermore, because it is grounded in something research has proven to be an effective approach in general, CrabbieMasters is not something that only works for me in my setting. This is the reason I have such a passion in sharing it with others.
Make it a good day!