August 16th, 2013 10:12pm

Handling public tantrums


I have heard fellow moms talk about their kids having tantrums in public. I’ve heard the stories about toddlers throwing themselves on the floor, screaming louder than once thought humanly possible, and/or throwing things as fast and furious as mini missiles. Somehow, I have been fortunate to avoid one of these knock-down, drag-out outbursts…until yesterday.

With the summer coming to an end, I decided to have a fun-filled day with my two girls. We went to story time at the library, ate lunch at Taco Bell, played at the park and even got ice cream at TCBY. Before we headed home, I decided to take a trip to the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner. Queue a major meltdown starring my 3-year-old.

It all came down to Riley’s refusal to sit in the shopping cart, despite one of those free chocolate chip cookies in hand. And for the next 10 minutes, as I frantically grabbed the things I needed to make dinner, I could feel everyone in the store stare at me and my daughter, who was non-stop screaming at the top of her lungs.

Inexperienced at handling public tantrums, I tried my best to do what I thought was right in the moment, to refuse to give my daughter attention and acknowledge her poor behavior. I also desperately tried to ignore the glares coming from fellow shoppers and to gently tell an elderly woman – who tried to talk to my daughter – that I had the situation under control.

As I finished paying, Riley turned off her tears and turned on her sweet smile, just like a light switch. To be honest, all I could think was “oh yeah, go me” because I felt like my approach to her tantrum was successful. But I am still concerned about what must have been going through the minds of all the onlookers and employees, even thought I know I shouldn’t give it a second thought. Thank goodness for the one woman who look my way and said, “I’ve been there.” At least I know one person didn’t think I was the worst parent on the planet.

I’d love to hear some advice from fellow parents who have dealt with public tantrums! How do you approach the situation? What has worked well for you? How do you forget about all the glares?

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  1. August 18th, 2013 9:52 am

    I have been in that same position and did what you did get what I needed and get out. My siutation was a bit different; I have a son with autism and meltdowns could occurred any place and any time. I too felt the glares and heard the comments but what I said to my self was I am doing the best I can. These people don’t know me; my child nor the situation. Those that do will understand. These things happen I would have taken the cookie.

    by karen faircloth

  2. August 18th, 2013 11:31 am

    It sounds like you handled that well. I expect that you saw that tantrum coming. My experience with my little guy (now 37 y.o.) suggested strongly that the best approach for us was avoidance. The end of a long day is not a happy time for even a brief grocery stop. I confess that I get just a little cranky under those conditions and I am not 3. The one time a tantrum did start, I simply picked him up and left cart and all and we happily left the store. (I won’t talk about outside looking all over for “gypsies” because I’d heard they stole children and I had a suggestion ;-) )
    As for the glares, I am a great believer in the idea that what other folk may or may not be thinking about me & mine is “Not my business”

    by Joani McBride

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