Instead of saying the same old stuff to your kids when they’re grumpy, or arguing with you, or on their way to a temper tantrum, try using the new language of color. Your children might be surprised by how different it makes you sound—and surprised by how it helps them see their feelings and manage them.
So, to talk this new language, use the Grump Meter colors. Remember not to tell your children the color their on–ask them to identify it.
• “What color are you on this morning?”
• “Are you on blue?… Nice to know you on blue.”
• “What color are you on? You seem a bit grumpy. Maybe you could decide to take a thinking time out before you go up the Grump Meter.”
• Have confidence in your child: “Even if you’re on yellow, you can take thinking time out. Then come back and I bet you will be on green or even blue again.”
• Notice that your child might judge himself or herself too harshly: “Do you think you’re on yellow?… I’m not sure. Maybe you’re not quite that high on the Grump Meter. What do you think you need to do to stay on green or come back down to blue?”
• “Are you on your way up to orange? Put on the brakes before you get to red.”
• “Oh, no. Stop and think before you land on red!”
• “What was the trigger that took you up the Grump Meter?”
• “You did great coming back down the Grump Meter. What
reminders did you use?” (In other words, what helpful words did you say to yourself?)
• “What road signs could help you come back down?”
You’ll find plenty of ways to bring these colors into your daily conversation with your family. Remember to use the Grump Meter throughout your day—not just when one of you has gone up
it. Use it first thing in the morning, after school, in the car. Use it as a
way to check in with each other, and give everyone in your family a chance to acknowledge their mood. Once you can be aware of your mood and see it, you can also have some control over it.