Compassion and Understanding for Public Tantrums

Compassion and Understanding for Public Tantrums

Back-arching, jello legs, hitting, yelling, kicking, sobbing, throwing…a true melt-down or tantrum in progress…not very pretty nor fun and all while:

…in the middle of the cereal aisle in the grocery store–maybe with various items launching themselves out of the cart like one parent mentioned of recent regarding a jar of orange juice…and another, a jar of salsa…

…visiting your in-laws…you know, the ones who always leave you feeling less than adequate as a parent…

…exploring the museum that you finally got your courage up enough to take your child to because you REALLY wanted to show them the cool child-centered, hands-on exhibits that all your friends say are a must to see…

…at the restaurant squeezed into a tiny booth surrounded by dozens of other people enjoying their meals…enough said.

…all places public–you name it!

tantrum compassion parenting

All eyes upon you.

Embarrassment.

Anxiety.

Maybe even anger–the kind that leaves your hand twitching, as one dad recently said.

It feels like judging eyes, critical eyes, eyes that are saying, “Control your child!” “What a brat, can’t you make her behave?” “At least MY kids are minding.” We can FEEL the negativity emanating from all the adults watching as we (often) desperately try to “get our child to behave” (meaning, to stop melting down…).

You’ve been there…in some fashion or another–I know, because I have, too. It is a common theme for parents.

Just think, what could be different if, in those moments, all the eyes upon you were sending you support, understanding, and encouragement? What if instead of feeling negativity we actually feel accepting, affirming, uplifting energy?

What if all eyes upon us were really communicating

“Oh yes, it is TOUGH when our kids lose it in public!”

“I can see how mad she is that you had to say no to what she wanted.”

“He really is done with sitting still!”

“My little one had her tantrum right in the middle of my friend’s wedding!”

“When your husband was a little guy, he did EXACTLY the same thing. I remember feeling really frustrated about it!”

What could be different?

I believe you’d be able to feel calmer…more patient…to maybe even allow your child the space (maybe away from the broken orange juice and salsa jars or the popular museum exhibit) to continue melting down until they felt calmer once again.

I believe you’d feel the kind of support and encouragement that has you feeling bolstered, empowered, part of a team–even with strangers, or maybe especially with strangers–who can truly move through this big upset with grace. Confidence (yours) could lead the way–confidence that “This, too, shall pass”, that “My child is learning a bit more about his feelings and how to manage them and I know I can help him”, that “I can move through this positively…”

I believe things could be very, very different. Today look upon another parent’s potentially embarrassing, anxiety producing moment and send them thoughts of compassion, understanding, encouragement.

Intentionally think thoughts of:

“I get it! I know you can make it through this.”

“Your little one is having a tough time and I understand.”

“Hmmm, I wonder what I could do or say that could help this parent the most?”

And then, if inspired to do so, step into the fray and let this over the top stressed parent KNOW you understand, appreciate the BIG feelings–theirs and their child’s, offer a helping hand with a quiet cheerfulness. Or maybe just meet their eyes and give them an encouraging smile–one that says, “I’m comfortable in your child’s melt down, it is okay.” Whew. What a relief that can be, to have another let you know they are comfortable in the big discomfort you are in the midst of.

Just think, what could be different today, right now, if all the eyes upon you were encouraging, understanding, accepting?

What could be different if you felt the comfort of support?

©2015 Alice Hanscam

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Alice is a PCI Certified Parent Coach® with a B.A. in Child Study and a graduate level certification for coaching through the Parent Coaching Institute and Seattle Pacific University. She is a proud mother of two (nearly) grown daughters who are spreading their wings and leaving smiles behind as they go. Click here to purchase Alice's new book: Parenting Inspired: Finding Grace in the Chaos, Confidence in Yourself, and Gentle Joy along the Way

4 Responses to Compassion and Understanding for Public Tantrums

  1. HELLO:
    I’M NEW TO THIS AMAZING WEBSITE DO YOU KNOW ANY THERAPISTS IN THE HUNTINGTON GREENLAWN NY AREA?
    MY DAUGTHER IS 4 AND A HALF AND SHE’S HAD TANTRUMS STARTING AT 2MONTHS. ! I’M TRYING LEFT AND RIGHT TO HANDLE HERTANTRUMS BUT ARE RUNNING OUT OF SOLUTIONS. I KNOW WHAT ALL THE CRIES MEAN ETC. GASSY HUNGRY TIRED, TEETH HURT BORED ETC. SHE’S VERY DEMANDING AND IM NOT ALLOWING THAT IN MY HOUSE HOLD.
    ON TOP OF THAT ME AND MY HUSBAND ARE NOT DOING WELL AS A COUPLE. HELP
    JENNIFER M. GENESI FROM GREENLAWN LONG ISLAND.

    • Jennifer,
      I believe there is a family practice in Huntington, NY that is focused on helping families.They have a lovely website here: http://familyguiding.com/ and this is their phone number: Phone: (631) 223-8499 I do not know this practice personally, but they can probably point you in the right direction and help you find a counselor or other support that may be helpful if this particular place is not ideal for you. I wish you all the best on your parenting journey.

  2. Hi!

    My son is 2.5 yrs. And whenever we are in a class (my little gym, library) and kids start cheering, clapping and saying yay!!!! He gets overwhelmed and cries.
    I tell him that kids and grown ups cheer and clap whenever they get excited and happy! What can we do to help him to feel ok with that kind of situation?
    Thank You in Advance.
    Eliana

    • Hi Eliana,
      this sounds like it might be helpful to use play here to practice this situation at home. Maybe use some dolls or stuffed animals to pretend cheer, invite your son to follow along, and pretend along with you. With time and practice the cheering will become something he will likely get used to. In the meantime accepting his genuine feelings and just allowing him to cry and feel is ok too. While it may be a less usual reaction, it is not atypical for his age to be overwhelmed with so much noise or in a commotion. Stay close and kind, your calm and safety will help him through. best wishes.

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