Debbie Granick is a parent/childbirth educator and freelance writer. She received a Masters in Social Work and a Masters in Public Health, specializing in Maternal and Child Health, from the University of North Carolina. Her previous work includes counseling adolescents and their families in a substance abuse prevention program, teaching tobacco education and reproductive health in a school setting, and consulting with local child care staff on toddler discipline strategies.

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Crabby Mood?

“Dear Debbie” is a new column dedicated to answering your questions about how to better handle the everyday struggles of life with children. She’ll tackle anything—from tantrums and potty training to dealing with playground politics and post partum depression. Send your questions to:

[email protected]

Dear Debbie,

Summer’s ending. Preschool’s starting. And these changes are making my toddler crabby, crabby, crabby! Any suggestions for some quick mood changers?

-anonymous in the Midwest

Wow. You mean there’s a rational reason for your child’s crabbiness? The wild mood changes in my house seem to defy explanation. What’s your secret?

The beauty of toddlers is that they while they tend to get upset quickly and unpredictably, they can often be easily “tricked” out of that foul mood.

Try these to bring on a grin:

• I’m crabby, too. Let’s make mad faces in the mirror until we feel better.

• New rule. No smiling allowed. Not even little smiles. Hey, I said no smiling!

• Who can spin 10 times without falling down?

• When I turn the music on, dance. When it stops, stand still. Ready? Dance!

• Whoever’s angry, raise your hand. Raise your other hand. Now raise your foot. Raise your other foot. Gotcha! Now I get to tickle you!

• Let’s wash away the yucky mood. I’ll fill the sink with bubbles.

• You need some silly cream. Open up! (Whipped cream works great!)

• Let’s look for my happy kid. Is he under your foot? No. Under your shirt? No. In your hair? No. Behind your ears….



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