Public Displays of Affliction

I just had a young mother contact me concerned about an incident she and her 1.5 year old son had in the store. We’ve all been there! Baby in the buggy sees a ball (or other toy they can’t live without). You let them hold it… then it’s all downhill from there. When you go to replace the ball the child goes into complete meltdown mode complete with a great gnashing of teeth. Blood, sweat and tears are all involved-  mostly by mom.  Everyone in the store is certainly staring at you. What’s a mom to do? In these situations you have a couple choices (both of which I’ve done):

1- Pay and Leave :)… nothing wrong with that. I guess you could just grab little Johnny and leave too… ha! I have no real issue with this tactic… after all my motto is, “SURVIVE!” The only problem is that you really haven’t taught Johnny anything. But… if you can retain your sanity this way and you don’t have to have milk- then dodge!

2- You deal with the reality of where you are. In all seriousness, when our children were the age where meltdowns were more likely to occur than not, I had talk time as we were riding the buggy into the store. I might say something like, “Johnny, we’re going to the store. There are LOTS of beautiful and fun things inside. They are great fun to look at, but we can not buy something every time we go to the store… We can look but we have to put it back…” IF you decide to let them hold that Dora phone, tell them AGAIN. “Suzie, you can look at it and push the buttons, but then we will put it back… yes, ma’am?” If they do so without a big fuss, PRAISE, PRAISE PRAISE their great behavior! Sometimes I’ll even reward as I remove the toy even though they are giving a little resistance, “Oh thank you for putting the toy back… let’s put it back right where we found it”… and keep walking! THEN when they throw that fit (which the will at some point), push that buggy as fast as you can away from all toys, balls and fun things… maybe go to the tire and lube section.  Then have the conversation. Don’t try to do it in the middle of  the toys. We have chosen to not spare the rod and I have used a little pinch or finger squeeze to encourage them to act nice again.

Don’t loose sight as to how old your child is. Babies act like babies… they do! They should even :)…. Give your child the best chance of success. Talk, talk, talk. Practice does bring improvement. You may have to avoid the toys, balls, movies, suckers, bikes, chips… all together. You may just want to stay home to avoid those public displays of affliction.


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