The Fussing Spot.

21 Mar

“I don’t know what to do anymore,” I told my friend Sharon.  “His tantrums are like kryptonite to my mothering skills.”

I had called Sharon because I knew she would understand my dilemma, having a high-energy little boy of her own who was several months older than Seabass.  At the time, Seabass had hit a whole new level of difficulty: random meltdowns and tantrums of biblical proportions.  What do I do? I thought to myself.  Do I ignore him?  Get in his face?  Spank him?  What?!?  It seemd that no matter what I tried, nothing helped calm him down and get him to a place where he could listen to reason.

Like so many desperate phone calls for advice to fellow mothers, this one was made in the eleventh hour, with the latest tantrum still raging.  Thankfully, I’d had the wherewithall to put Seabass in his room with the door closed to scream and thrash while I made my call.  If I hadn’t done that, this post might have been coming to you from Prison Block C rather than the comfort of my couch.  I had HAD it.

Sharon was awesome.  “My little guy has something we call ‘the fussing spot,’ she divulged.  It’s just a little floor mat that we lay down for him to sit on while he cries or whatever.  When the crying stops, we talk, hug, and get up.”  Sensing my skepticism of the fussing spot’s transferability to my situation, she added, “I can’t promise it will work for you, but it has worked wonders for us.”

With that in mind, I decided to move forward with Mission Fussing Spot.  Seabass’ next tantrum occurred over something trivial – something like a cracker broken in half – and I quickly whipped out a faded brown floor rug we use to wipe our feet on at the front door.  (Not exactly the cleanest spot, but it’s what I had.)  I situated it on the fringe of the kitchen where Seabass could see me while I washed dishes.  “Look at me,” I ordered him, through the buckets of snot and tears gushing from every orifice of his face.  “This is THE FUSSING SPOT.  You will sit on this and not get up until I see that you have stopped crying.  STAY HERE.”

Of course, the first thing Seabass did was try to get up.  But with one more “STAY HERE” and a firm squaring of the buns on the mat, he got the idea and…wait for it…he stayed there.

Where the magic happens.

It was probably five excrutiating minutes before he stopped crying.  (Five minutes is nothing, I know.  There are plenty of kids out there for whom a good tantrum isn’t over before 30 minutes are up.)  When he had settled down a bit, I dried my hands and squatted beside him.  Then we had a little talk about how I loved him and didn’t like punishing him, but that he would have to go to the fussing spot any time his crying got out of control.  Then we hugged.  I really liked that part.

The fussing spot has become a good tool for discipline and self control in our house.  Sometimes Seabass works the system by claiming he’s all done fussing the second I sit him down, but for the most part he gets it.

In fact, there have been several times when something upset him – the dog looked at him funny or the sun was shining too brightly through the window – and he fetched the fussing spot on his own.  It is not uncommon for him to quietly lay the mat down, arrange the corners just so, sit down on it and proceed to wail.  Those are tough times not to laugh.  How do you keep from smiling when your not-even-two–year-old knows he has a bad attitude and needs a time-out?

11 Responses to “The Fussing Spot.”

  1. Anonymous March 21, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    Wow! How wonderful. I have never heard of a fussing spot before. How great. I hope it relieves some pressure for you. We might have to try it too.

  2. Jan Mayfield March 21, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    I used a similar concept when I taught preschool for thirty years. One 4-year-old yelled out to his classmates one rainy morning when we had been inside tooooooo long, “That’s it! I’ve had it!” And he put himself in the quiet corner for the rest of that time period. My team-teacher and I had such a hard time not laughing…

  3. Marta March 21, 2012 at 3:00 pm #

    I love this idea and will have to remember it if Bella gets to the point of needing a fussy spot!!

  4. Sheri (Mommy Stuff Blogger) March 21, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    Nice. I DEFINITELY need to try the fussing spot. Goodness me, the crazy tantrums make me want to run to the hills whilst shouting obscenities. I can deal with crying because she hurt herself or actually has pain or something. But when the crazy screaming starts because I said she can’t have any milk until after dinner… drives me nuts.

  5. Anonymous March 21, 2012 at 3:57 pm #

    That’s awesome….I can just see it. And glad you found something that works!!

    • Colby March 21, 2012 at 3:58 pm #

      I’m Colby, not anonymous 🙂

  6. Grandma L March 22, 2012 at 6:07 am #

    I think that is great!

  7. Kimberly March 26, 2012 at 4:02 pm #

    I bought a heart shaped rug from IKEA so my girls know that I still love them. 🙂

  8. Camille April 2, 2012 at 3:22 pm #

    Love it! So, it’s different from a time-out in that it’s just a “calming space,” right? It’s not used as a consequence for a bad choice, just as a place to calm down? Do you still have or do time-outs?

    • Jaime April 4, 2012 at 11:52 am #

      Hi Camille! I guess a calming space is what you could call it. No, it’s not a consequence for a bad choice. For disobedience, we don’t do time-outs. We spank. (I can hear CPS coming now…)

  9. Anonymous April 5, 2012 at 8:43 am #

    I wish I would’ve had a “fussy” spot for Luke! What a great idea! I thinkg everyone needs a fussy spot!! 🙂

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