Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tantruming in Public

Dear Mary and Lynn:
I just needed a few things and didn’t want to have to take all the kids to the store after school, so I fed my youngest lunch then hopped in the car.  We didn’t even get through the door before she threw herself down on the ground screaming because I tried to put her in the cart.  I almost died of embarrassment.  There were at least five other people waiting to get in the store, and there she was gyrating on the pavement like a little maniac.  I tried to talk to her, but I finally just scooped her up and drove home.   What should I do when she melts down in public?  Jennifer
Dear Jennifer:

We hear you.  There’s nothing worse than sensing those piercing eyes of judgment on you when your little one is losing it.  But it sounds like you really kept your head.  Good for you! 
So let’s take a look at this from a two-pronged approach.  First if you get “caught” by surprise as you did, sometimes the only thing to do is exactly what you did.  Pick her up and take her out of the situation so you don’t feel like you have an audience.    If possible though – don’t stop there.  Take her back to the car, calm her down and see if you can figure out what she was feeling or needing.  Ask questions, such as, “Did you want to walk?”   “Did you want to climb in the cart yourself?” Once you discover what she was feeling or needing, then go back and do a re-do.  Actually walk to the door, pull out a cart, have her practice asking, “May I walk please?” and then go ahead and do your shopping.

The second approach is a proactive one – that is stopping before you even leave for the store and asking yourself  “Can my child be successful in this situation or is she too tired or too hungry?”   If you’re ever in doubt about whether or not your child will “make it through a store,” stop in the parking lot and ask yourself, “Would I bet Mary and Lynn $100.00 she’ll make it through?”  If you’re not willing to bet us, listen to your gut.   Trust it – there’s a reason – don’t go.   Figure out another way to get the items you need. 
Dr. Mary and Lynn
Question:  We’re suggesting making decisions about participating in activities based on the needs of your child.  What do you think about it?