My child’s public tantrum, exhausting!

The scene: Woolworths, Sandton City, Aaron is tired and cranky and being otherwise.  He starts to have a small meltdown, which spirals very quickly into a full-blown Aaron* tantrum.

*An Aaron tantrum is something truly special to behold.  He gets into such a state that he doesn’t know what he wants.  ‘Uppy Daddy, uppy!’ Paul bends down to pick him up.  ‘No uppy Daddy! NO!’  Paul puts him down.  ‘Uppy!!! UPPPPPPY!’  Paul picks him up.  ‘NOOOOOOO Dadddddy, NO uppy!’  Paul puts him down.

You can see where this is going?

It is not always about being picked up, it can be wanting/not wanting a bottle or a toy or the TV on.

We have learnt over the past 2 and half years that nothing, and I really mean nothing, can put an end to an Aaron tantrum except time.  They usually last about 45min at which point he calms down, says sorry and asks to give and receive loves.

So, back to Woolies in Sandton.

Aaron is having an up/down tantrum and this woman walks past and quite angrily tells us to ‘Just pick the child up!’  On the other side of the row a much younger woman passed a comment that she would have smacked him by now.

I saw red!  I literally felt my blood boil.  If they both hadn’t moved off I would have gone and confronted them.  I also started thinking maybe we were missing something; maybe there was a way for us to stop the tantrum in its tracks.

What a cheek!   The older women that told us to pick him up either has no children or her children are grown and she has forgotten about tantrums.  Either way she should have taken two minutes to observe the fact that we were trying to pick him up but he was not having it.

As for the younger woman, I hope one day that when she has children of her own she remembers this and realizes sometimes you just have to let things happen.

Logically I know we did everything we should have for our son.  He doesn’t respond to smacks, he doesn’t respond to ignoring/walking away, he doesn’t respond to hugs or being held.  I know that the only way to deal with an Aaron tantrum is to let it play out.

Emotionally I am wrecked.  That these two totally insignificant strangers can make me doubt myself and second-guess myself when it come to MY son.  I am so mad that they can make me feel that way!

As an aside, there were two very lovely ladies there, one in the queue with us who was so sweet and understanding and a lady that stopped to see if we needed any help and to commiserate with us.  She told us that she knew how we felt, she had been there and we should just stay strong.

How do you deal with public tantrums?

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Gina Jacobson

Gina Jacobson

Gina Jacobson, a wife, a soon to be mom of 2 , a leo, a procrastinator, sushi lover and Kindle fanatic. Her blog is made up of A Bit of This a Bit of That.

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8 Responses

  1. I was recently trying to explain to a friend how my perception of crying children in public places totally changed after Kweku was born. No-one seems to have told them (the children) how it is supposed to work so we all just stumble our way through. I haven’t had to deal with many public tantrums but what I try do it get him into the car and let it play out.

    Don’t let those two people make you second guess yourself. We are all fumbling our way through this. You know what is best for Aaron and are doing it.

  2. I haven’t experienced a public tantrum from son yet, but at 7 months he got so mad at being dressed after bathtime that he held his breath and passed out. It happened recently again (he is now 1), but this time I was prepared. A lovely first aid instructor reassured us after the first incident, saying she has seen 4-month-old babies doing it. Soooo, I have no illusions about what lies ahead with regards to public tantrums…

    Don’t let those people make you doubt yourself. As you say, they have either not had children or have trauma-induced amnesia. You have my full sympathy!

  3. Gina – get that book Raising a Spirited child!

    I went through this with Kiara! I eventually stopped taking her to the shops! It is only now that I brave it but only if I need a few things!

    Now that she is older I am more aware of her triggers and can see when they are about to start – but we have still had many many public tantrums. I stopped worrying about people a while ago purely because it took all my energy to try keep Kiara from ripping things off the shelves or throwing herself out of the trolley!

    My advice – shut the world out and do what needs to be done for your child!

  4. Oh Gina,

    I have been fortunate enough to have very few public melt downs…..having said that I have completel sympathy for you. It makes my heart melt for the parents that stand there not sure how to handle the situation as “other” people always feel it is their right to critisize. All I can say to you is to hell with them. This is your child, your angel (as they are tantrums and all) and your pride and joy (possibly not at that moment – but you know what I am saying). Forget other people – they don’t go home with you, but Aaron does and the fact that you understand your child well enough to know what works for him – well hats off to you!!!

  5. I have the same problem – my 6 year old has the worst tantrums that I have seen and it happens often that people in the shops have alot to say about how they will do things. I sometimes truly want to attack them and tell them to shut up as it just makes the situation worse as I get worked up and then take it out on my child. We try to avoid shopping centres and if we do have an incident we go to the bathrooms or a quiet spot and let him scream and carry on until he stops. No child is the same and each incident needs to be handled as best as you can ….. i am heartened to see that there are other parents out there that understand

  6. As usual, I’m coming in on the arse end of it all but here’s my two cents’ worth:

    My Megan used to have the most spectacular tantrums and she, too, would not repsond to any kind of attempt at calming her down. I say just do what works for you.
    Generally, the only thing that gets an angry child to stop being angry is to let them be angry. And as long as they’re not causing any damage to themselves or to anyone’s property, the worst thing that can happen is that they make a big, ugly scene. And if a bunch of snotty cows like the two you encountered at Woolworths can’t handle it, then that’s their problem. I would’ve told them both to mind their own damn business!

  7. I can totally agree as per the woollies tantrum. I have 3 all under 5
    I totally want to lash out at people who stare and pass remarks like control your child. We also try to avoid shopping centres cause it’s exhausting:and my husband and I do not take the kids shopping knowing that they will be tired and hungry and start the same routine, pick me up daddy, no leave me, want bottle mommy mommy mommy ..
    and yes ignoring them helps sometimes. Hubby gets upset when i give them what they want just to keep the sanity, telling me it’s not going to solve the problem : I CLEARLY KNOW THIS however it helps me

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