the public meltdown

My first column is up with OCMoms at the Orange County Register’s website.  Thanks for all of the great questions yesterday!  I started this week with a common scenario: the public tantrum. 

Dear Kristen,

How do I handle my  3-year-old's tantrum at the grocery store?


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The public tantrum. It’s a scenario that most mothers know well...and one that can increase the heart-rate of even the most seasoned parent. Some of my most frustrating parenting moments have involved a screaming child in the grocery cart or in the checkout lane of Target.

Deciding how to handle a public tantrum requires a step back: what is the best way to handle a tantrum in general? A tantrum is, typically speaking, a child’s way of communicating frustration. Conventional wisdom says that tantrums should be ignored and redirected. Children need prompts to help them express their emotions in appropriate ways and empathy for their frustration, but they also need to learn that a tantrum is not a tool for getting what they want.

It’s easy to live this out at home, where a screaming child can be placed in their room or distracted by a toy. It’s not so easy when it happens in the grocery store, which is why so many of us panic when we see it coming on and are not in a safe space to employ our usual strategies.  However,  it’s important to keep perspective and maintain the same approach that we would employ at home. Remember: the most uncomfortable person in the scenario is likely to be you. And that lady in aisle 22 giving you the side-eye because your kid is taking the crying to DEFCON 5? Her opinion of the situation is not more important than maintaining consistency with your child . . .

. . . to read the rest, head on over to my column at OC Moms.  It’s easy to leave a comment by signing in with facebook or twitter, and I’d love to hear you feedback.  (I already have my first judge-y comment calling me out.  Yay!) 

How do you handle the public tantrum?

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