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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Some parents say they won't leave restaurants, stores when their kids start throwing tantrums



Mom_tantrumkid We've all had it happen to us: A kid has a meltdown in public. You are in the line to pay for groceries  and he's losing it. Your entree has just arrived and she wigs out. We all know that tantrums require an audience and ignoring them is a good way in the long run to get them to stop because they don't work. But in the meantime, you gotta get some groceries or you finally have some dinner served, what do you do? Other people want to shop in peace or enjoy their dinner, too.

I have been surprised by the growing attitude that people should just get over themselves and put up with tantrum because leaving the store or restaurant makes life too hard on the parent. A recent Dr. Phil Show on parenting mistakes displayed that attitude in spades with parents saying "Why should I end my dinner? I've paid for this night out, too." I say this is why people without kids call us selfish breeders, and they are right.

I've certainly been there. I've had to cart a screaming 2 year old out of a store or restaurant. I guess some of these parents didn't get the lesson I told him that day: We aren't entitled to ruin dinners, movies, or other parts of life for others for our own needs. Parents don't get a free pass. That sense of entitlement is bothersome and selfish. 

I didn't have to abandon my grocery cart altogether. I whisked the kid out of the store though, and we went into the parking lot and I said he's not allowed in there if he's behaving like that. It makes the store seem like a privilege. Also, the change of scenery does a lot to distract their attention from whatever was causing the tantrum, and the other shoppers appreciate not having to hear it.

By the way, this advice from Dr. Harvey Karp (Happiest Toddler on the Block) on how to stop a tantrum in seconds really does work: Simply saying out loud what's bothering them goes a long way toward calming them down because they feel understood. Then short sentences on what they should do with a warning that you leave for an early nap if they don't calm down. If this is becoming a regular problem you can even schedule a fake shopping trip where the real purpose is to teach manners and you can feel free to leave if you need to make the point. That one investment in time pays huge dividends.

-- Sharon Kennedy Wynne

[Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 11:04am]


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