Every mother occasionally finds herself wishing no other children were at the park. Because other children bring their own toys, bikes, shovels -- and parents. And then your child wants to use the bike, the other child says no, your child breaks down in a fit, and the other parent watches disapprovingly as you attempt (unsuccessfully) to reason with your three year old.
As much fun as this scenario sounds, let's work on ways to avoid it.
Lots of repetition will help make your point, as will having your child rephrase your words back to you.
|Remember that strangers are just that -- strangers. They don't really matter. Anyone who actually has kids is just saying a silent prayer that it's you in the hot seat today. The judgmental ones? Who needs them? Put them out of your mind, and concentrate on your kid.|
If you're making an exception to a rule, be clear about what you're doing. For example, if you never buy ice cream in the park, but you're choosing to do so today to celebrate a successful potty run, say so explicitly. "We don't usually buy ice cream here, but today is different. Today we are buying ice cream because you used the potty! Today is different and special. Tomorrow we won't buy ice cream, but today we are."
You prepped, you planned -- and somehow it didn't work out right. Now you're stuck in the middle of a store with a screaming child, a cartful of groceries, and a crowd of unfriendly eyes watching your every move. What do you do?
First off, remember that strangers are just that -- strangers. They don't really matter. Anyone who actually has kids is just saying a silent prayer that it's you in the hot seat today. The judgmental ones?
Who needs them? Put them out of your mind, and concentrate on your kid. Also, remember that although we generally think everyone is watching us, most people are actually far more self-centered and are too busy thinking about themselves to focus on anyone else.
Now, if you're not in a rush, take your child to a relatively quiet area of the store and park him on the floor, in the cart, in a chair, wherever. Sit or stand nearby and pull out your cell phone, a book, or anything else that you can focus on (or pretend to) for a few minutes. Ignore your child, and do not respond until he stops screaming. Do not make excuses for his behavior, do not apologize for having a child, and feel free to make snide comments to anyone who feels the need to comment on your parenting. Remember, they are not your problem.
Eventually your child will calm down, and you can give him a choice: either we finish this trip properly, go home and have some sort of treat, or we pay now, go home, and he spends an hour in his room.
But what if you have to finish your shopping? Then do it. To the extent possible, ignore your child. Do not respond, and do not give in to the temptation to say, "Stop whining!" If you have an iPod, put it on. Channel your inner Zen master and focus on not hearing your child.
"Tantrums become a problem when parents give in to the child too soon or too often, teaching the child that a tantrum is an effective way to get what they want," says Diane Ryals, University of Illinois Extension family life educator. So don't. Do what you need to do, get your child out to the car or back home, and let him know how disappointed you are.
Your boss has invited you and your family out for dinner, but you decline for fear that your child will have one of his outbursts in public. Stop limiting your social life because of your child's behavior and learn how to stop their temper tantrum before it starts.
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