The Happy or The Grumpy

Instead of, "You seem really grumpy today," try, "The grumpy seems to be big and in charge right now." Read on to see how to use the idea of externalizing behavior to help kids with their feelings.

By Momentous Institute | Dec 22, 2014
The Happy Or The Grumpy

A common tool in therapy is externalizing behaviors. So instead of saying, “You seem really grumpy today,” a therapist might say, “The grumpy seems big and in charge right now.” This simple language switch makes the concept less threatening. The child doesn’t think of it as talking about himself, but rather a different, external thing.
 
This is an easy shift with kids and can be used for good or bad feelings. Here are a couple of ways you might be able to use this in the every day.
 
The happy seemed so big when you were telling me about your new friend.
 
The anger seems to be bigger than any of the other feelings. Do you think you need to take a break?
 
Even though the day wasn’t what you expected, you let the happy be in charge and had a great time anyway!
 
How else have you used externalizing language to help kids process their emotions? Let us know!