Celebrate: Outcrazying the Crazy #celebratelu

celebrate link up

Ruth Ayres hosts a weekly celebration at her blog. I appreciate this invitation to reflect on the positives of my week.

This week I’m celebrating my very favorite therapeutic parenting technique, outcrazying the crazy. It’s a technique I used a lot two or three years ago, but I haven’t used it recently. To be honest, I’d kind of forgotten how amazingly helpful it can be.

Therapeutic parenting coach, Christine Moers, explains the technique in her video, When Our Kids Are Stuck:

Here’s the basic idea. Kids who come from hard places easily get stuck in certain patterns, feelings, behaviors, thoughts. Right now, even though my son is processing feelings that are logical and reasonable given his past experiences, the ways he manages those feelings often don’t work and he gets stuck in old patterns of fight or flight rather than productively engaging and processing using his new tools. I was at my wit’s end this week in the middle of an interaction that was quickly escalating. I was using all the calming and regulation techniques I know, but nothing was working. He continued to escalate. I began to despair. And suddenly, I thought of Christine.

Outcrazy the crazy.

It was worth a try.

“Oh my God!” I said. “What was that? Did you see it?”

Instant brain shift.

“What? I didn’t see anything.”

“It was right there. Didn’t you see it?”

“No.” He looked at me suspiciously. “You’re just making this up.”

“Oh no!” I said. “I’m serious. Shh!”

I put my finger to my lips and began a very exaggerated stealth-creep towards the corner of the school building.

“Don’t follow me!” I said. “You’re going to scare it away.”

I snuck around the side of the building and waited for him to join me. Which he did in just a minute.

“What did you see?” He asked, genuine curiosity in his voice now.

“I don’t know,” I said. “It was like a raccoon, only bigger. It came right around this corner. I can’t believe you didn’t see it. I think it climbed that tree.”

We spent several minutes examining the tree. He threw a couple of rocks into the leaves, then he shook his head.

“There’s nothing there,” he said disgustedly. “You’re just making this up.”

He turned to walk away, then turned back to me.

“Are you coming? Let’s go get some ice cream.”


A couple of hours later, we were right back in the crazy. It was getting late. He was sitting outside, refusing to come inside. I didn’t think I had any more therapeutic parenting in me for the day. I considered my options. Sitting on the floor in the bathroom crying seemed like the best choice. But I dug deep. And wondered if outcrazying the crazy could possibly work a second time.

“I need something to juggle,” I told my husband.

“Plastic cups.”

So I grabbed a stack, went outside, and proceeded to try to teach myself to juggle. With cups. In the dark.

Worked like a charm.

“You’re terrible,” he said. “What are you doing?”

“I’ve had a lifelong dream of learning how to juggle.”

“No you haven’t. You’re trying to distract me.”

“Actually, I’m just trying to juggle.”

I could see the eye roll even in the dark.

“Oh forget it,” he said. “I’m going inside.”

Within five minutes, we had a movie on and he was snuggled up next to me on the couch.

The thing about outcrazying the crazy is that it’s good for everyone. Forcing myself to come up with something unexpected and unpredictable to do that wasn’t crying, yelling, despairing, or curling up in a fetal position under the bed made my brain feel better too.

Any given outcrazying the crazy technique can usually be used only once before the child catches on and gets mad rather than regulated. So stay tuned for me to develop sudden lifelong dreams of learning how to yo-yo, kazoo, and paddle ball.





15 responses to “Celebrate: Outcrazying the Crazy #celebratelu”

  1. carriegelson Avatar

    What amazes me is how many strategies you have up your sleeve! And, yes, I am staying tuned for updates 🙂

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      And I needed all of them yesterday. At the end of the day, my son looked at me kind of sheepishly and said, “I’ve had a really tough day today.” And if HE thinks it’s a tough day, well…… I’m totally ordering a yo-yo and a kazoo. I have a vision of myself hunting for him playing the kazoo or trying to skip the yo-yo. LOL.

  2. Carol Avatar

    These are brilliant! I am so going to google this woman and find more ideas! And kudos to you for hanging in there! Looking forward to meeting you in person this week!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Christine Moers is a genius. All her videos are wonderful, though this one is probably my favorite. She has a blog too and does parent coaching. I do a session with her once every few months. It’s a life-saver. Can’t wait to see you next week!

  3. Ramona Avatar

    Excited that you and Carol will get to meet in person. Love your technique. An added bonus is that it will keep your creative juices flowing as you dream up new skills to explore!

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Absolutely, Ramona. I need to remember this realization for next time–my own brain won’t get stuck if I’m using this technique, and it’s truly a challenge to keep from going down the negative path sometimes.

  4. Linda Baie Avatar

    It really does sound like diverting a 2 year old who’s having a tantrum. I realize there’s more, but you’re just amazing in the creative ways of not getting caught up in the fight. It won’t ever work, that I know. Thanks for the video too, really interesting.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Anything to avoid the fight! It’s so hard when some days that’s all he’s trying to do for 12 hours straight. But avoiding the fight is the path to healing, I truly believe. Christine Moers is wonderful. I know I wouldn’t have gotten nearly as far in this journey as I have without her work. I just wish she had a thousand videos!

  5. jarhartz Avatar

    I love your interaction (life long desire to juggle cups!) and this woman. I can imagine some students that would respond well to this technique. Unfortunately, I couldn’t leave a classroom to look for an imaginary something. Glad you ended up watching a movie together.:)

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      Maybe you could look out the window and spot something exciting and spotted or stripey or maybe spotted AND stripey! How grateful I am this summer for movies because he can’t fight AND watch a movie! Bring on the TV!

  6. margaretsmn Avatar

    This is so amazing! Seriously, how crazy can you get? Juggling? I can’t wait to see what you think of next.

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      It’s definitely a challenge to think up new crazy stuff.

  7. Elizabeth Avatar

    I think I shall try this! I just spent from 6-8 a.m. this morning trying not to let Owen lure me into a fight. He finally said: “Mommy, I want to be mad at you and I want to hit you.” Yes, Owen, I figured that!! But outcrazying the crazy just might work!….

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      That sounds like exactly what T would say too, LOL. If I had biological kids, I would totally use the therapeutic parenting techniques on them. It’s amazing how this stuff works. I’m reading a really good parenting book right now that you might like called Parenting the Child with Intense Emotions that includes a lot of techniques I think might work extremely well with moments of intense emotions, even if the child isn’t always that way.

  8. […] celebration of one of my favorite therapeutic parenting techniques, outcrazying the […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: