Yes everyone’s looking at you – but what matters is your child
You know that moment when you think everything is going really well and you’re absolutely nailing this taking your kid to the shop thing, and then your child asks for some sweets, frantically grabbing at them on the shelf and your life flashes before your eyes because you just know you are on the edge of a monumental outburst! Unfortunately we’ve all been there and any parent who says otherwise is simply in denial!
So what do you do when your child starts to have a meltdown and what feels like hundreds of shoppers turn to look at you, their eyes oozing judgement? Put simply you remain calm and pretend that it’s just you and your child. Definitely easier said than done but has huge benefits not only for your self esteem and the future of your food shop but also for your child.
If your child is in the throws of a tantrum and things have already escalated then take a deep breath, get down on their level and let them know you are there for them. Then you just ride it out. As long as they are safe, let them experience the emotion and offer yourself to them with open body language. At this point no words are needed because your child’s brain has been completely taken over by the survival system so nothing you say (or anyone else thank goodness) will even be processed. The good news is tantrums show that your child’s brain is developing as it should but try to resist the need to shout this to the oggling bystanders.
Once your child has begun to calm down, you can offer them a hug and perhaps some words of support to validate their emotions and let them know that you are there for them and have their back. For example, Mummy can see that you are feeling sad/angry which is ok and I understand because I would feel sad/angry too if I couldn’t have something I wanted (of course you need to insert the relevant information here). It is then a great opportunity to engage in a hug, hold their hand or provide some sort of physical closeness that keeps you connected. You can then help them off the floor and carry on with your shop (although I would probably make it a quick one now). Ignore the audience who might now be pretending to stare at beans deciding whether they want the supermarket brand or if hoops will do, and distract your child by asking them to find something specific for you, or engaging them in something you know they are interested in. You don’t need to refer to the tantrum again, but if your child was old enough and you felt it was appropriate you could talk about the feelings involved (perhaps once back at home and in a comfortable environment for them) and discuss how else we can get our emotions out such as breathing or counting. This could be done indirectly via role play so that your child feels no shame or blame and can be done in a fun way where you can both really explore emotions and different responses.
What is important here is that you remained calm and your child felt that you were there for them. You also helped them to label their emotions and validated how they were feeling which helps to keep you connected but also gives your child the message that feelings and emotions are ok. Well done Mumma you just successfully survived a tantrum! Time for a well deserved chocolate biscuit I think (eaten half hidden in a cupboard of course).
For more tips on preventing tantrums or strategies for behaviour please follow The Positive Parent Coach on social media 🙂