Out at lunch the other day a few of us mom bloggers got on the subject of kids throwing fits in public and how parents react to this humiliating, yet inevitable occurrence. I’m a fan of trying new things, especially if those things tend to make my life easier as a parent. It might seem lazy or selfish, but hey, I’m a mom on a mission every single day and in the words of Kimberly “Sweet Brown” Wilkins, ain’t nobody got time for that.
As soon as my kids got big enough to sit by themselves in the cart and take in all the wonders of stores like Safeway, Target and Fred Meyer, I discovered their happiness was totally dependent on whether or not they had fun distractions being thrown at them at a constant rate. Once the Fun Distraction Well had run out, they were all of a sudden not happy. This prompted crying, whining, what looked like convulsions and sometimes a high-pitched screeching sound, much like that of a baby pterodactyl. Or of course the perfect storm, a combination of those. That was always my favorite.
The first few times I was so freaked out by their freaking out that I would try and wrap up what I was doing in that moment and leave. I noticed each time that the fit would gradually subside as we left the store and got into the car to go home. Babies and children in general are manipulative geniuses — you should know this. I also found myself feeling worried that other parents were watching me and judging my every move. Maybe they were, maybe they weren’t.
After mustering up the courage and maybe feeling a little fed up of the same old stuff, I decided I would ignore them. Best decision ever. Now that they’re older and can speak their feelings of dismay directly at me, I calmly say things like, “Wow, you’re really throwing a fit right here in front of all these people?” Sometimes they just need to be reminded that they aren’t the only humans in the area being inconvenienced.
Once they realized they weren’t going to get anything out of it besides looks from passers by, the fits became fewer and far between. I also like to keep in mind that every child is different and some things may work for one but not the other. My son actually responds best to threats of being taken outside and “straightened out” or for an “attitude adjustment.” It makes the shopping trip much longer, which is exactly what he doesn’t want, so he usually makes the right decision because of it.
The most important thing though is to do what you feel most comfortable doing as a parent, and don’t worry about being judged in public when your kid flips a switch. We’ve ALL been there, in one form or another. You’re not alone. In fact, if I, Kathryn Bonny, see you in public and your kid is having a meltdown, I will only smile and mentally give you a hug because you’re awesome and I have felt your pain.
Kat Bonny, exhausted mother of 2 (+1 in September)