Happy Spring!!

Meat and BEAT the Hurry-Up Crabbie!


Image of Hurry-Up Crabbie from book cover.

"Hey Slowpoke, You Make My Day!"

The Hurry-Up Crabbie is unique because it usually causes the adult to be the first one who feels crabby! Kids can be in a perfectly good mood at the same time you are feeling anxious and frustrated while up against time pressure.

The Hurry-Up Crabbie is one that adults really relate to. Our busy society leads to many opportunities for Hurry-Up to come in and ruin your day.

CrabbieMaster parents in backyard rushing around with balloons and gifts and a tablecloth all frazzled trying to get ready for a birthday party while Hurry-Up peaks over the fence.

Hurry-Up can get you when you are feeling overwhelmed by how many chores you have and when it seems like there is too little time. Hurry-Up can also get the best of you when you have to keep repeating yourself to your child, “Get your clothes on!” … “We need to hurry!” … “We have to go!” … “Where is your backpack?” … “Clean up your toys!” … “We’re going to be late!”

CrabbieMasters Jay and Kay walking down the steps and sidewalk carrying their backpacks to leave the house for school with Hurry-Up dancing in the grass in front of them because they're going slow.

Much of the time, when the Hurry-Up Crabbies appear, kids are just innocently being kids. They do not mean to be causing you stress. They may not even be aware that they are causing you stress. Frequently, they are just in the middle of playing or they are having a hard time transitioning between activities. Over the years, we have found that understanding this principle helps adults overcome the Hurry-Up Crabbies. It also helps adults rally the efforts of their kids to beat Hurry-Up.


Kids simply love to say the Hurry-Up tag line: “When asked to do it…you get right to it!” Introduce this as the Hurry-Up CrabbieMasters slogan. As soon as they learn to say and follow this phrase, they are on the right track.

CrabbieMasters Jay and Kay falling asleep at their desks not paying attention to the time with Hurry-Up hiding in the background behind them back by the United States map hanging on the back wall of the classroom.

As mentioned above, Hurry-Up is likely to appear when you are asking your child to transition between activities. For example, when they are playing, and you want them to go get ready so you can leave the house. We have found that it can be effective to use a game to ease the shift between activities. This works because often you are asking kids to transition from fun to something that is not as fun.

It puts a whole different twist on things if you ask kids to clean up in order to beat the Hurry-Up Crabbies. We like to tell them what we will be doing to beat Hurry-Up (e.g., “I’m going to get lunch ready so that we can eat on time.”) while they are doing what you ask them to do (e.g., clean up their toys). They will probably get even more energized and focused if you add, “I am going to beat Hurry-Up. I am going to go fast, but YOU will probably beat me!” Then, when they beat Hurry-Up because they ‘got right to it’ you need to get really excited and show them how pleased you are about their accomplishment (sometimes we literally fall down on the floor in a display of shock – for some reason, this is always a crowd-pleaser).

Excitement and motivation make a great foundation for listening, cooperating and beating Hurry-Up! As usual…MAKE IT FUN and they will too!!!

Another game is to set a timer and have them try to finish their task before the buzzer goes off. If they are done with their task and the buzzer hasn’t gone off get into full enthusiasm mode and act totally shocked and excited…jump up and down, dance a little! Make it a big deal! They just beat Hurry-Up!

It is a good idea to set a timer for things like:

  • Clean up time
  • Getting ready for naps or bedtime
  • Coming to sit at the table for meals
  • Putting on jackets and boots to go outside
  • Getting ready to leave the house

Headshots of CrabbieMaster parents looking frazzled and a little upset.

Adults are wise to ‘own’ all of their own Crabbies, but this is especially true regarding Hurry-Up. Adults are more likely than kids to have their mood upset by the Hurry-Up Crabbies. So, if you notice that happening, acknowledge it by pointing out to the kids that The Crabbies got the best of you. Then, if you ask them to help you beat Hurry-Up, they will want to pitch in and do their part. You might be surprised at how eager a child will be to be your ally.

It is very useful to start the day out with a brief meeting for how you can plan ahead and work together to beat Hurry-Up throughout the day. Remind them, “When asked to do it, you get right to it!” Tell them that this will help you be a team in beating Hurry-Up.

CrabbieMaster Jay sitting on couch bewteen his parents talking with him.

If you know that they are going to have to end an activity, talk to them BEFORE they start the activity about how important it will be at the end for them to listen to you when you say it is time to transition.

CrabbieMasters Jay and Kay and friends playing soccer in the park.

For instance, if you are having a play date at the park and you know that it will be a challenge to tear them away from their friends and the playground equipment, tell them, “Okay, we’re going to play now, but when it’s time to go, I need you to get ready to go right when I ask so that we can prevent the Hurry-Up Crabbies.”

By taking the approach we recommend, you can build a positive cycle with your child. You let them know what is expected, you give them an opportunity to make a good choice, and then you show appreciation when they are cooperative. They will feel good about having pleased you and you will feel good about how well this process can go.

It is easy to get into a negative cycle when Hurry-Up invades. We’ve all been there! Your child is dawdling, you’re feeling rushed, and you can’t believe how long they can possibly stretch out a task. Your frustration shows, they feel bad and they may cry or may lose focus even more. By the end of the exchange, you may both feel defeated. When this starts to happen, we recommend that you stop the problem while it is just the adult who has the Hurry-Up Crabbies. In other words, right when you start noticing your frustration, tell your child that Hurry-Up is trying to sneak into your day and give them an opportunity to listen and be prompt. More often than not, they will step up to the plate, you’ll feel less stressed, and they will have a sense of competence if you recognize their contribution to improving the situation.

Make it a great day!

Becky :)