The question was posed on Facebook by a soon-to-be first time mommie yesterday evening.
"I'm taking a Facebook Mommy Poll: What do you do (or did you do) when your child throws a tantrum in the middle of a store?"
I come from an upbringing as a child of the 1970's when it was OK to smack your kids around. We endured spankings, yellings and the 'Pull Your Pants Down And Bend Over' scenarios all too often. I've been backhanded by both parents, my oldest brother had his arm broken while being held down and I've had my lip ripped open by a slap with mother's wedding ring turned to palm side. The fear was put into us.
Sorry, but in my opinion of parenting, fear is the last thing I want my daughters to think when they think of me. I've been mocked and I've been stared at with my parenting skills. I've also been told that I have the patience of Mother Theresa. Maybe I do. Or maybe I just parent the opposite of the way I was parented.
I hit my oldest daughter once. Once. It was in the throws of an ugly divorce, I was a single mother with two babies trying to make ends meet...add on whatever other excuse for myself to make it seem justified. I hit her. Hard. The hardest spanking known to man, in my opinion. She cried and I cried and after I collected myself I apologized to her. The look she gave me while I hit her was probably the look I gave my father. I didn't ever want to see that face again from my child.
When my daughters were punished, they went to the Time Out Wall. Hands behind their back, nose to the wall. One minute per year of their age. Then afterwards we would have a discussion about why they went to time out and how to correct the issue.
My daughters didn't have many tantrums in public places. I always made sure I was strapped down with juices, snacks, books, toys etc as comfort items. But, it did happen on occasion. And when it did, I reacted the same. I got down on to their level and spoke calmly to them. Generally I knew what was bothering them because I'm attentive. Whatever shopping I was doing at the moment ceased and did not begin again until the fussing subsided.
To all the other parents who glared at me, suck it. I don't care if I temporarily put out a parent or person within hearing range of my child. They are the adults, she was a child. Sorry, she comes first. But I also got some smiling nods for my job of calming my child without making a scene, dragging her through the store kicking and screaming or smacking the snot out of her.
Now, with all that said, I was shocked at some of the responses I read on my friends Facebook in response to her question. Shocked.
ME - Everytime I got on their level and spoke very softly to them to calm them. I always went in with a bag of snacks, toys etc. I never yelled or jerked at them. Never. One will find while my approach takes longer, the outcome is better for all involved. And the best advice - ignore anyone around you. They can be so cruel and rude.
MALE 1 - Provide ear plugs for her Uncle
ME - I think this shall be a blog subject.
MOM 1 - I am living this now with my 2 year old. My boys never did this, though! So it was all new! She was given her warning to settle down, when she didn't, we went to the time out spot in target (amazing they have one!) She already knew and had plenty experience in time outs :)! She sat in the bathroom til she calmed down. It usually works. But one time we did leave the store.
MOM 1 - Amen, dawn!! I agree with the ignoring those arounnd u!
ME - What's so heartbreaking to me is that at the time I didn't realize one of mine was autistic and was in sensory overload, but I have peace in knowing I handled it well. Ugh isn't it the truth MOM 1?! I got so much crap for breast feeding when the time called. Totally covered up and people stared at me as if I was douching in public!
MOM 2 - Tara was tryng to get her way, at greenspoint mall I just left her
MOM 3 - depends, with my kids i spanked their butts but grandsons.....i get them whatever they are throwing a fit for...problem solved...thats how us nana's roll!
MOM 4 - I don't recall mine ever throwing tantrums in public. But I was in and out of those stores like a NINJA! You gotta be quick!
MOM 5 - I'll second the "time out bathroom" - always worked for mine....TIP: pick them up and practically RUN to the bathroom with them...by the time you get there they are so freaked out that all you have to do is ask if they are ready to go back in public...usually you'll get a teary eyed yes ma'am.
MOM 6 - Ignore it.
MOM 7 - I have pretended I am leaving them there to throw their fit. They have straightened up right away! My dd would freak if I'm more than an inch away from her.
MOM 8 - Give a warning and then remove him to talk about it. If we're eating, I will take him to the bathroom and have a talk about what I expect. I make sure to go over what we're doing BEFORE we get to a place. We haven't had a real tanrtum in public yet, knock on wood.
Male 2 - Children shouldn't be allowed in Public !
Male 2 - P.S. With my (3) boys,I would tear their little Butts up and that only had to happen once or twice.They all turned out pretty good.
MOM 9 - Once with Lianna Jr I left her screaming in the middle of the mall. Of course I was hiding behind a pole but she didn't know that. Once she realized I wasn't trying to manage her she stopped screaming and started looking for me. The rest of the shopping was a breeze.
MOM 10 - grab them and go! just leave everything in the basket and go! I've done it before and every other mom has done it before me. seriously, happens more than you know.
Male 3 - Put the fear of god in them...you are god until they get a job.
MOM 11 - 1 warning. Then a spanking would ensure. I guarantee you that will only have to occur once. It will mortify them with public embarassment. Rylee tried that 1 time when he was about 3, I very calmly told him, this is your only warning, after that I will spank you in front of everyone in this store, he didn't believe me. He's 9 now and he knows that in public I can embarrass him more than he can me. He knows I don't play.....He also saw me spank a total strangers child in the grocery store. (not a 'real' spanking just a swat on the bottom) for pouring out cereal boxes in the aisle for fun. I didn't think out was funny and neither did his mom when I returned him. My son does NOT act out in public now, he's terrified of what would happen. Funny thing he's only had 3 spankings EVER.
MOM 12 - I agree with MOM 11. I always removed mine from the scene, quickly. The way I see it, ignoring it is still condoning it, because you aten't doing anything about it. I also figure that no one else who is trying to eat or shop or whatever, should have to listen to that. Maybe they left their own kids with a sitter to get a much needed break. I let my kids know what was expected, and then followed through every time. Consequently, I've always been able to take mine anywhere and know they will behave.
MOM 13 - Mom?! You left me at Greenspoint mall? What the hell is wrong with you?! Anyway- now that I've chosen my mother-of-the-year nominee.... I don't think other people should have to listen your kids throwing fits. It happens to everyone, even with great kids. 1 stern warning, next comes proof that it won't fly with me. Those fits cease to occur.
Me - This will be a great blog entry. I cannot believe some of the responses I'm reading.
MOM 14 - I'm with Nana on this one; we cd spank when the boys were growing up, now CPS wd be called, so buy them whatever, within reason, enjoy ur shopping, leave it to their parents, paid my dues, lol
Leaving your child at the Mall?!?! Are you KIDDING ME?!?! I don't care if you're hiding behind a pole or not. That is just cruel. The utter helplessness that child must have felt while thinking their mother abandoned them. It's not the least bit funny to me.
And as far as other people having to listen to my kids throw a fit - get over it. When in public, it's a shared space. Sometimes I'd rather not watch a parent smack their kids while holding them up by one arm. I'd rather not watch a helpless child thinking their parent left them there. I'd rather not look at some woman's fat ass in a pair of Juicy shorts ten sizes too small. But I endure it.
A mother once told me sometimes she has to lie down with her son while he's sleeping and remind herself why she had him. WHAT?! I cannot fathom that. I have never had to remind myself why I had my children. When children act out, they are simply wanting attention. What's it going to kill to give them that?
All these years later, the proof that I handled my children in the best manner and in their best interest is in the pudding. Although I didn't know it at the time, my youngest was autistic. The fits she threw in public were due to being on sensory overload. Noises, people, surroundings - everything may throw her off and she would shut down or wail. Regardless, I handled it calmly. If I were to yell at her, smack her or drag her around by her arm - those would all have been detrimental to her. And to myself. I wouldn't be able to live with myself.
She's now almost 15 and has no memories of her mother smacking her, popping her, yelling at her at a time she needed calmness and understanding. My oldest is almost 18. The proof of not putting FEAR in her is in the way of the trust we have in each other. The openness and the love. My kids know they can come to me with everything. Because they know my reaction, regardless of what they're bringing to the table, will be a calm one. My kids' friends hang out at our house. Not held away behind the closed door of my kid(s). But in the family room, the kitchen and having fun. I'm MommieDawn to everyone.
My kids have never sneaked out. They don't steal from us. They don't lie about where they're going. They always keep in touch while they're out. They don't drink. They don't do drugs. They don't have sex. They don't hide things. When I hear friends talk about the problems they have had or are having with their teenagers, it's almost hard for me to relate because the worst things my kids do is not follow their Chore Charts.
At the age of 17, my oldest daughter's age, I was drinking, sneaking out, doing drugs, not having sex but was promiscuous. I lied to my parents about my whereabouts. I knew how to lie well to them. I knew how to sneak around. The word 'dysfunction' doesn't come close to my upbringing. I wanted different for my children and I achieved it.
I will break my arm patting myself for the job I've done as a parent. I've tried my damnedest at it. And at the end of my life, I hope to look back with no regrets when it comes to my kids. The regrets I have are only monetary ones and the struggles I had as a single mother. But I will never regret the way I parent them. These mothers who leave their child abandoned to teach them a lesson or smack them should be ashamed of themselves.