by Beth Ann Morgan
The timeless power of a good story continues to blow me away. Stories have the unique ability to make people relate, feel emotion, and motivate change. If you’re looking for a great parenting resource about how to deal with agitated people, I recommend a simple story titled “The Very Cranky Bear” by Nick Bland.
Even though it sells in the children’s market, I recommend it for every person on the planet. Without giving too much away, the story is about how four friends attempt to cheer up a very cranky bear. Each one tries in their own way, but one of the friends bests them all because she listens to the bear’s need without being turned off by his outward behavior.
This book changed the course of our parenting and gave us a tool that our children could not only understand but also use to better relate to each other when one of us is not at the top of our game.
Shilpa Barrantes, another Early Intervention therapist that helped our family navigate through crisis, brought this book to a session she had with our daughter, Hannah, during a tumultuous time in her two-year-old life. She loved the story and immediately began rattling off times when different members of our family had been cranky bears.
When my husband came home from work later that day, Hannah could hardly wait to tell him about the book. She recounted the tale to him as best she could and chattered happily about the ending. Her enthusiasm moved him, for she’d not responded to something like this in a long time.
He glanced sideways at me and whispered, “Buy the book.”
It arrived within the week, and we enjoyed reading it over and over again. My husband and I often chuckle when we use the phrase “very cranky bear” with each other when anyone in our family, even an adult, becomes a little grouchy. We then try to encourage each other to be “plain but thoughtful sheep.”
Complete with cute little “baa,” of course.