The King Crabbie’s mission is to ruin your day! The King is the ringleader of all of the other Crabbies. The other Crabbies have names that directly identify specific underlying issues. For example, Too-Tired is triggered by not enough sleep. However, for the King there is no specific prompting event. Basically, he is for effect. When you’re without a specific Crabbie to identify (e.g. when they’ve had enough sleep, when they've eaten a good breakfast, when you’re in no rush), but something has led to a cranky or “wound up” attitude, think of this as the King. In this way, the King is the proverbial “catch-all”, or “fall guy”.
Also, on days when a child’s behavior is chaotic or wild, or their mood is out of sorts for some unidentifiable reason, we declare this the doings of the King. Finally, if you have been dealing with multiple other Crabbies on a given day, it is definitely time to BLAME the King! When you’re having “one of those days” where everything is off and nothing seems to go smoothly, call on the King.
Fortunately, kids LOVE to Beat the King. We capitalize on this natural tendency for kids to get excited about a leader or a villain. A Crabbie who wears a crown, holds a staff, and orchestrates an army of Crabbies, generates a perfect antagonist-protagonist system. Your child becomes a super-hero when they beat the powerful King Crabbie. This enthusiasm will help get your child on board with doing their part to implement the strategies to beat all of the other Crabbies. This works – use it!
Beat the KING
We identify the King as the culprit on the difficult days. On these days you are most likely dealing with excess energy, lack of focus, and potentially a negative attitude in response to your attempts to get them on the same page with you for how to get the day on track. We find that when kids are over the top, they are not as likely to heed your pleas to “settle down”. However, it is exactly these times that the kids are in the mood to put their focus on how to Beat the King! Just as was described in beating Hurry-Up, it is important that you take action before things get out of hand. To do this, it helps to call a little meeting. Bring your voice to a whisper and say something like, “Oh, no! I don’t want the King to hear me, but I think he is here. He’s probably angry because we have beaten so many of his Crabbies.”
Next, take out the Magnet Board.
You can either put the King 'On Notice' or create a King's Challenge.
Putting the King 'On Notice': this highlights to your child that today's focus is on beating the King. This strategy announces that it's time to decide to have a good day. This is all about learning to have the CrabbieMaster attitude which includes taking charge and being able to turn the day around if something happens to go wrong. The King is being given notice that you will be cracking down on all of his Crabbies and stopping him from any chance of ruining the day!
Issuing a King's Challenge: this is the option of choice when you know that there are one or more other specific Crabbies already involved. A King's Challenge tells everyone that the King is sending a particular Crabbie or more their way today and that as CrabbieMasters, their job is to stay ahead of the game by focusing on beating whatever Crabbie or Crabbies the King has sent in to try to mess with the day. Kids enjoy the extra excitement of competing with the King on top of whatever Crabbie is part of the King's team.
The Beat the King Chart.
Put a King's Chart on a wall or door where everyone can easily see it. Explain that each time things get wild (or whiny or argumentative) the King gets a point. Every time things are going well the CrabbieMasters get a point.
Be sure to be honest and fair by giving the King a point whenever he deserves one. Grown-ups, this includes giving the King a point when he gets the best of you too. We’re human; it happens to the best of us. And it’s a great role-modeling opportunity. Don’t get upset or angry when the King earns points. Just have a “matter-of-fact” tone. It can also be appropriate and helpful to express empathy or sadness or even fun dramatics such as, "Oh, no! The King got a point! Ok, don't worry. We can figure out how to get him back!" when the King gets a point. Whatever works for you and your crew. This makes it clear that we are in this together. The better you can be about keeping the CrabbieMaster attitude, the better your chances of turning things around. Remember, it’s you and the kids against The Crabbies.
If the King wins a point, and this gets put on the chart, this visual cue will make you and your child more determined to stop the King in his tracks. This visual cue is more effective than multiple verbal pleas or angry tones. Trust us on this. We speak from experience!
It also helps to break the day down into multiple segments, with each segment encompassing things that would be done in a portion of a typical day (e.g., meal times, play times, quiet times). At the end of each segment a point is given to either the King or CrabbieMasters. Kids really love the idea of Skunking the King. This means the King does not get a single point all day. On tough days, using this approach gives you more control because you have multiple check-in points. This helps keep them focused.
You can use the Beat The King chart on an isolated day, or you might find it fun to keep it up for a few days or even a couple of weeks. The experience of doing the chart can be a positive trigger when it comes to future tough days. All you have to do is mention the King and kids are more likely to fall into Beat the King mode because they recall using the chart and having success in the past. If you do this correctly, this will have an additive effect over time. This is part of building an upward spiral of mastery, teamwork, and positive attitude, instead of succumbing to The Crabbies who are always trying to create a downward spiral. But now, instead of The Crabbies ruining your day, you and your children can get the best of them!