Everyone has a story about how their child had a meltdown in a public place over something which was realistically very minor but an onlooker may have thought you had actually just poked your kid in the eye repeatedly and then told him/her that every magical character who has ever brought them something (Santa, Easter Bunny, Tooth fairy et.al.) were not real and would never be visiting the house again.
The fact is all kids have tantrums because they’re kids who haven’t learnt that life isn’t all sunshine and lollipops (and they can be frustrating little buggers sometimes too. Gorgeous and loveable, but buggers nonetheless). They haven’t learnt that:
You can’t have a treat every time you go to the shops.
Being tired isn’t an excuse to be an arsehole.
Supermarket chains are dicks because they put brightly packaged chocolates right at kid height at the checkout where you have to stand for ages with your kids even with the robots they’ve used to outsource the humans. And they do this deliberately just so they can use little kids to make an inordinate profit on the inordinate profit they’re already making. DICKS!!
Being hungry isn’t an excuse to be an arsehole.
You can’t do XYZ because that could possibly lead to death or at least a hospital trip and we don’t have time for that today.
Eating off the dinosaur plate is actually very similar (if not the same) as eating off every other kind of melamine plate.
Santa has very recently visited the house which is now at capacity in regards to new toys and leftover Christmas crap so no, you can’t have another toy.
You can’t have that thing just because another kid has that thing because I physically don’t have that thing on me right at this very instant and I won’t be buying that thing because I don’t have any money on me right now either though I’d give away my most expensive and loved shoes in the world if you’d just shut this noise down right now.
Our latest offering to the gazillion paged Encyclopaedia of Reasons for Tantrums goes thus: I dragged the children to the shops in what was supposed to be a quick trip in an effort to get out of the house one rainy Sunday just before lunchtime (the best time to go shopping with kids #imadickhead). I managed to stave off requests for doughnuts, toys and colouring books throughout, but when I realised it had been a long time since breakfast, I consented to a squeezy yoghurt, which is a big treat in our house, to be eaten on the way home in the car. They chose their flavours, and on the way to the car, Sussie started dragging her heels, head down, shoulders slumped in a posture of abject depression.
Me: “What’s wrong?”
Sussie: “I’m just sad that I didn’t get to eat anything at any nice shops or get anything.”
Me: *head explodes* “You have a treat in your hand!?”
The yoghurt was taken from her sweaty palm and put into a shopping bag. What ensued was a jumping up and down, screaming, hateful, crying, pleading, rash promising of good behaviour, high pitched tantrum. We still had 100 metres before we got out of the building, so everyone there had a good look at this meltdown and my general dysfunction as a parent.
I probably could have alleviated this by letting her have a treat she was completely ungrateful for, or at least talking to her about it once we were out, but kids don’t have memories that long and my patience after a trip to the shops with two kids under six years old is even shorter. I also could have left her at home, knowing she was tired and would probably become hungry at some point on this trip. But I didn’t do any of these things because sometimes tantrums are Shit Storms which are really hard to avoid.
What was the point? I got a “Sore MuM” note when we got home and before eating dinner she had to think of a few things to be grateful for. I think it’s sunk in that we must be grateful for what we receive (and not every trip to the shops will always involve a treat), so maybe she’s learnt a valuable lesson. But not before a bit of the poise and serenity I used to have when pushing a shopping trolley through my local shopping centre had been lost. There were probably five different, less stressful, less heart wrenching ways to teach that lesson, but there you go, that’s how I did it. And we are all in the same boat. Sometimes as parents we nail that teachable tantrum moment. And sometimes we completely screw it up. All we can do is try to remember that tantrums are learning moments which are mostly about teaching your kid how not to be a complete arsehole. Just do the best you can.
What’s your best (or worst) tantrum moment?