Moms Talk Q&A: Tantrums in Public

Sound-off with our Moms Council about this week's hot topic: tantrums in public.

Each week in Moms Talk, our Moms Council of experts and smart moms and dads take your questions, give advice and share solutions.

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Moms Talk will also be the place to drop in for a talk about the latest parenting hot topic.

So grab a cup of coffee and settle in as we start the conversation today:

How do you address bad behavior in public when it comes to kids?

Whether its over a piece of candy, a new toy or absolutely NEEDING those designer jeans, how do you manage tantrums?

Alternately: what do you think/what have you done when someone else's child was the source of drama?

Guiomar Barbi Ochoa April 06, 2011 at 01:13 PM
My daughter is getting to the age where "tantrums" are thrown for anything from wanting to be left alone to wanting to be picked up. I used to get really worried about any little noise she made in public but I'm definitely more laid back about it now. She had a meltdown, at the Safeway, on Sunday and I got flustered at first but then I found a little corner to go too so I could figure out how to calm her down. Since she's only 1, she can't talk to me and tell me what's going on so we're learning how to "communicate" with each other through gestures etc. I think the most important thing, as the parent, is to remain calm, take the child to the side and try to communicate with the child. Giving in to them is a short term solution.
Judith Bunnell April 06, 2011 at 01:27 PM
You are so right on! My daughter was the master of public meltdowns...I think she just felt more stress out in public or maybe I was projecting more stress. Anyway we spent some quality time with her laying on the ground at a mall kicking and screaming and me seating nearby, rubbing her back until she calmed down enough for us to determine the cause...strangers give you the evil eye but what can you do?
Guiomar Barbi Ochoa April 06, 2011 at 01:39 PM
Yeah...I think I was getting stressed over evil eyes and passing the stress onto her. At a certain point, you just have to say to yourself, "I don't care what these strangers think, I just need to deal with the problem at hand." I try to put myself in her shoes sometimes and wonder what it must be like to be in a crowded, over stimulated market when you're 2 feet tall! It's just a lot to deal with.
Lola Wanno April 06, 2011 at 01:42 PM
This conversation is ironically appropriate. My son was having a horrible meltdown yesterday (refusing to leave the playground). A 55-60 year old man verbally accosted me, accused me of "abusing" my child for pulling him by the sweatshirt to make him walk down the street (he kept throwing himself on the sidewalk). He then lectured me that I was acting "inappropriately" in the public domain and had probably hit my child. Even more inflammatory, he suggested that I was not my son's mother (he is blonde and I am brunette) and was abducting him. HE STARTED TO CALL THE POLICE. At this point, I lost it on this delusional idiot. How self righteous and presumptuous to make a snap judgement about how someone treats their child based on 5-10 seconds of observation??? I really hope I see this moron again without my son present as he will rue the day he said anything.
Judith Bunnell April 06, 2011 at 01:44 PM
WOW! That is a scary story! I have had my share of "evil eyes" but not a direct confrontation!
Lola Wanno April 06, 2011 at 01:56 PM
It was hideous. I cannot imagine intervening in that manner without taking the time to assess a situation rationally. Furthermore, if you feel the need to get involved, wouldn't it be more appropriate to say to the mother "are you okay?/Is everything okay?" rather than accuse her of abuse? It also felt racially motivated as my child is very European looking and I am not. He contested my son's parentage when I confirmed that he is my child. Ultimately, anyone with a child can discern between a child in pain and a meltdown. This vile loser told me he has 5 children! I would guess he has never even been on a date.
Judith Bunnell April 06, 2011 at 01:59 PM
CraZY! The worst encounter I had was when my daughter was little and prone to "barf" alot....I was holding her face down towards a garbage can on the street and thought a security guard was going to arrest me! Then she finished and let out a big baby chuckle and wiggled to have me let her down and ran off!
Jennifer Perry April 07, 2011 at 12:54 AM
We've definitely had our fair share of tantrums in public (like the time my daughter urinated on the floor in the Safeway at the checkout on purpose, Oh the joys of motherhood!). Guiomar - I think you are right, at the age of one, its more often being tired/overstimulated than outright defiance and in that sense dealing with it usually involves removing them from the situation and lots of distraction. I try and tune everyone else out and pretend that its just me and my child. There always going to be judging eyes everywhere you turn and they only make the situation worse.
Jennifer Perry April 07, 2011 at 12:58 AM
When they do get older and it turns to defiance then I've found that I have to hold my ground. Giving in only makes the behavior worse the next time around. With the gimmes/wants, I find the put that on your birthday list or save up for it with your own money, is a way to defer requests. Usually by the time that birthday rolls around they've completely forgotten what they were asking for. With the I don't want to be where you are/I don't want to listen, I usually take away some priviledge and then make sure I follow through on it. Then when they are denied the next day - I remind them of why they aren't getting to do what they want. Also, getting down looking at them in the eyes on their level and telling them in a controlled (that's the hard part - which I often fail at) quiet voice in simple terms what they are doing wrong. Then I put on my thick skin and prepare to be embarassed. I've found the calmer I stay the shorter the tantrum and when if I give them an inch they will take that mile.
Jennifer Perry April 07, 2011 at 01:02 AM
Lola - that is just awful. I am so amazed and disgusted at what people will say to parents. Can't we just encourage each other, rather than be judgemental and presumptious? Wow.


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