Losing one's cool

Megan attended parent-teacher conferences last week, learning all about how Bubby is doing in his three-year-old preschool class. As the teacher went through Bubby's progress report, she pointed out that one of the areas in which Bubby and his classmates are working hard is "problem solving."

The teacher proceeded to tell Megan that she's focusing intently on problem solving with the entire class, teaching them techniques for diffusing situations in which it's easy to lose one's cool. Stepping back and counting to 10 before reacting is one of the many techniques she's stressing with the youngsters.

The other day Megan called me to say that Bubby was in the throes of a "meltdown." Contrary to his ever-cool presence in photos I post on this blog, Bubby does indeed lose that cool occasionally and suffer true meltdowns. As all three-year-olds do. Often. Which is likely why problem solving is a big part of the curriculum in the three-year-old class.

The meltdown was not news and not the reason Megan was calling. Bubby's handling of the meltdown was the news.

Megan reported that she and Bubby had been disagreeing about something or another, when Bubby started acting like, well, a three-year-old. So she sent him upstairs to his room to calm down until he could act more appropriately and make better choices that didn't lead to his irrational behavior. (She likely used more child-friendly terminology, but that's the gist of it.)

Bubby angrily huffed up to his room. Just before Megan called, she said, she couldn't help but laugh out loud at Bubby's reaction to being sent to his room. "I actually LOLed, Mom," she said. Because once Bubby was in his room, Megan could hear him ranting and raving. Then he'd quiet down and all she'd hear is him counting. "1...2...3...". Then he'd YELL again, quickly followed by a return to the counting once more. "1...2...3...".

At the time of the phone call, Bubby still hadn't reached 10, still hadn't resolved his issues, still hadn't solved his problem.

But he was trying. And proving that even at three years old, stepping back and counting before flying off the handle does indeed make a difference.

(Even if that difference is simply instigating actual LOLing from Mommy.)

Today's question:

What problem-solving technique do you use to keep your cool when angry?