We've all seen it. A child in the grocery store screaming his or her lungs out. Sometimes it's about candy, sometimes a toy, sometimes for no reason at all. We try not to stare, feeling sorry for the poor frazzled mother who usually ends up giving in to her child's pleas, to stop the embarrassment. And even though the rest of us know that giving in wasn't the right thing for her to do, we're silently thankful that she calmed her child down so we can continue shopping in peace.
If you're a parent, chances are, you've been that mom. Most likely, you've given in to the tantrums and probably kicked yourself afterwards. I know I have. At the time, it seemed so much easier to just give my son or daughter what they wanted and put other shoppers (and myself) out of misery.
And it was easier. Until the next time when my child threw another tantrum, knowing I would probably give in again and they would ultimately get what they wanted.
First, let me mention a few things I have tried in the past when my kids threw themselves into a tempter tantrum. These are things I learned (the hard way) do NOT work:
Unfortunately, children who are in the middle of a temper tantrum aren't much interested in reasoning. Holding them only sends them into a squirming fit that usually lands them on the floor. Spanking makes them cry harder, not to mention sends the message that hitting when you're angry or frustrated is okay. They can't hear you yelling over their own screaming and ignoring only makes your child more intent on getting your attention, as well as practically begs for irritated and disgusted looks from nearby shoppers.
But, fortunately, there is something we parents can do to tame that ugly and embarrassing temper tantrum. Something that is often difficult and always inconvenient. But, in the end, helps teach our kids that temper tantrums will be dealt with. Firmly and immediately.
Are you ready for it?
Leave the store.
I know, I know. Your cart is full of food and you really needed that carton of eggs for a cake you're baking this afternoon. But I'm here to tell you, staying in the store while your child is screaming will only frustrate you more and cause you to do something you'll later regret. Leaving is the only option.
Ask an employee to hold your cart for fifteen minutes. If you don't return by then, they'll need to put your groceries back on the shelves. But often, taking your child out of the store for a few minutes is all it will take to calm him or her down so you're able to finish your shopping. But sometimes you will need to head home without your groceries and return later, when you have a sitter or after your child has had his or her afternoon nap.
Leaving the store accomplishes two major things (besides bringing peace to other shoppers). First, removing ourselves and our child from the stressful situation immediately minimizes the tension so we are better able to calmly deal with the tantrum. And second, it teaches our child that throwing tantrums will not get them what they want. It also sends the message that we care more about their state of mind than getting our shopping done.
Eliminating grocery store temper tantrums may be impossible. But handling them well doesn't have to be.
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