Children are not meant to be controlled. Children are meant to be loved. It seems so simple, but then you see a child throwing the mother of all tantrums at the grocery store and what do you think? Be honest. Do you think, why can’t that mother, father, grandmother, (whatever) control that child?
I have to admit that I may have had that thought before I worked in group homes with kids, mostly teenagers at first. And before having children in my own life. As a child who was abused, I knew that I would always treat children with love and kindness and respect. I just didn’t know how embarrassing it could be when children threw a huge tantrum in public.
Your sweet, beautiful, well mannered four year old suddenly turns into a little demon from hell having a tantrum that looks more like a demon possession as they stomp, spew green vomit, and their head turns around and around and their eyes glow red. Slowly a crowd starts to gather around you as you stand in the check out line at the local grocery store. This is all because you said no, she could not have any candy.
Never mind that you never buy her candy. Suddenly you are the worse mother in the world and everyone is judging you. NOW WHAT DO YOU DO?
Do you give in to make her stop? Well, if you are me, you answer is not just no, but FUCK NO. You don’t say that to the child. You don’t even say that out loud. That is however, your stance on the subject. You don’t give into tantrums or your just get more. You don’t give into tantrums EVER, even if they are the epic, possession by demons in the grocery store kind. Even if they are just crying a little or whining and it is really incredibly annoying.
You don’t give into tantrums because this teaches the child they can get what they want by throwing a tantrum. They will do it more. And nobody wants more tantrums. Nobody. You also can can’t give into it only once in a while because then they will do it more because you gave in that one time and you might again. That sucks doesn’t it? It’s teaching right and wrong. It’s a parent’s job. And it’s hard. No one said it would be easy. But it will be worth it.
If you are like me, you glance away from little red eyes long enough to give all the people giving you dirty looks, even dirtier looks. Yep, all of you are ASSHOLES. FUCK YOU. Some will look away because I have perfected the art of the dirty look. Thanks, Mom. At least you gave me that.
Then you look back at little red eyes and just wait, silently. You keep a patient, loving, nonjudgmental look on your face, because you do love her and she is just upset. This too shall pass. But you do not give in. You do not buy the FUCKING candy. You just wait. And you will tell her sixteen year old boyfriend this story in front of her to embarrass her the way she is embarrassing you, so remember all the details.
You may need to push her a little with your foot as the line moves forward. (Smile here, people. Humor helps you get through all of this drama.) You may need to pick her up and carry her. Try not to get the green vomit on you, it can be hard to get the stains out of your clothes and you will surely have to throw away what she is wearing that day. Moms and Dads often carry wet wipes specifically for this reason.
You may feel like the world’s worst Mom. You may and probably will feel like you are doing everything wrong. Don’t, your child is just feeling so many emotions at one time and she or he is letting them out. Your child feels safe with you. That is an amazing and wonderful thing. ( I know it doesn’t feel like it, especially with all eyes on you. But remember some of those eyes belong to parents who have gone through the same thing and are actually sympathetic and on your side. If I am in the store and anyone like me is there, we are on your side. So you go, Girl ,or Woman, or Man.)
Think about that. Your child is upset,overwhelmed and feels safe enough to let it out. They feel so many emotions at once and they are only two or three or four. They don’t know how to process so many emotions. Hell, many adults don’t know how to process emotions, or we have learned ways to do that, so we swear, (Sound like anyone you know? hmmm.) use humor, develop other habits like smoking or drinking, or overeating. We talk to friends. We blog. We post a status on facebook, we e mail or text. We think about it or go for a walk. Children are with their parents or another adult all of the time. They feel and they react.
Young children usually don’t have the options that adults do, thankfully not the negative or dangerous ones. So if they get upset, they just go BLAH, and it all comes out right there, wherever there is. They have to trust that they are with an adult who will understand and help them go through all of the emotions in a safe way. They don’t do it to embarrass you or hurt you. They don’t do it to make your errand take longer. They just have a lot of feelings and they don’t know what to do with them.
It is rather healthy actually. We teach them how to be more socially acceptable. “Use your words.” Don’t become a little green vomit, red eyed, tantruming, screaming demon when I say no. Instead say, ‘Mommy, I am angry.” Maybe we should all just throw a damn tantrum when we get upset!
Well, I am off to the grocery store . I’ll let you know if I make the local news when I won’t buy me the chocolate candy bar at the check out. 🙂