March 28, 2011

Use Your Words

I was inspired to write this post by Adriel over at The Mommyhood Memos. She wrote an excellent four part series on Toddler Tantrums, to read clicky. Even though my kids are older-ish, 6 & 4, they still have tantrums. I still have tantrums for goodness sake. So take a read, and you'll know how to deal with me! So Adriel thoroughly covered what you need to know, in the heat of the tantrum, the aftermath, etc., good info. After reading the series, I just thought I'd expound on the subject a bit. While we are waiting out these tantrums, public...under watchful judgmental eyes shouldn't we be cheering each other on, encouraging each other? Takes a village right? Often we {please note when I say “we” I mean “I”, just makes me feel better okay} don't enforce patient, gentle parenting, but take the easy road, the lesser teaching road, to make it easier on everyone else around us. But making it easy on the complete stranger rolling their eyes at me doesn’t help my child. It just reinforces the behavior, and you get a kid who throws a whopper every time they don't get a cookie at the grocery store {I know nothing about this}. So I wanted to share two stories about giving public encouragement to parents when they are in knee deep, because Lord knows we get enough discouragement. I'll be your cheering section, because someone was mine once, and I needed that more than I knew I needed it, and I'll never forget it.

My Story:

In the grocery store, nine people deep in the checkout line, the boy decided he'd had enough. He was maxed out, sensory overload. Now I either stick it out {did I mention, this was a grocery run of necessity, procrastinated a week, we needed food} or I leave. Apparently everyone else procrastinated too, and looked as if they were shopping for the apocalypse, I couldn’t do this again. Okay, I'll stick it out. Being calm, keeping cool. Dodging daggers people are throwing my way, ignoring ignorant comments...this will all be over soon, silent prayers kick in. Just then...well roughly when I reached counting to 29 upwards to 100...a woman walked by, gently patted my shoulder and said, "Hang in there Mom". Best feeling ever! Well not ever, but in that moment. I felt recharged, cry on son....I'm hanging in there. That is a great moment that has shaped the way I look at other parents parenting their children.

So here's my pay it forward moment.

Having coffee at the mall one morning before stores open, ALONE! What, when, where, I know right! And the angels descended....and well it was over before I knew it. I saw a beautiful parenting moment take place. The scene is Dad, stroller, and two boys; I'd say 2 and 4. Four year old was meandering around, being quite good, 2 year old on the other hand; tantrum city. Full on screaming about to hit the floor flailing tantrum. Dad was mid storm here. The apparent conflict had arisen when toddler decided he did not want to ride in the stroller, but also did not want to hold Dad's hand if he walked. These were his two choices. No negotiation {nice} no bribery {huh?}. Might I also interject that having it to do all over again, my children would have never touched the grocery store floor and still be riding in the cart at 6 and 4 {sigh}. Dad had squatted down eye level with toddler, calmly restating his choices; walk with hands or ride. And he waited...and waited, every now and then restating the choices for the record. There was no "hurry up", "come on", "no time for this", or just strapping toddler down into the stroller and moving on. {Who would do such a thing...ahem} Just then 4 year old chimed in, after waiting so patiently, he was growing restless, and said something about going to the toy store. Here was Dad's reply, "Just a few more minutes son, your brother is working something out". True to his word, less than 5 minutes passed and toddler stopped crying, grabbed Dad's hand and they were on their way. Bravo! I quickly walked up to Dad, and told him I'd seen the whole meltdown and congratulated him on how skillfully he handled the situation.  He seemed surprised by my comment, but grateful.  We chatted for a moment about how nice it is to have a parent notice the good moments instead of the bad.  Hmmmm, kind of like what we do with our kids too, scold the bad, forget often to praise the good.

I always find when I can parent patiently and kindly {this does get harder as the fatigue factor and frustration level increase} will always yield better results. Sometimes we get so caught up in OUR to do lists, that we forget the most important job on our list is raising these beautiful kids to be thoughtful human beings. Look, I am no perfect parent {surprised? How kind of you, stop laughing}. Who is? Well mall Dad maybe.  I have my moments where I don't want to take the time, or have the energy to help them work it out. I have my bedraggled moments when I'm clenching my teeth and coffee cup just to stay afloat. But I want to teach my kids that life is not a power struggle, rather, it is full of choices. And parenting is not about who's bigger.

My thanks to those two parents for giving me a gentle reminder that I carry with me always.

Do you have a parenting moment when you received encouragement from a stranger?


  1. wow, these are great stories! it's so awkward when you see another mom in a store with her kid chucking a tantrum... i totally empathize with her but often just don't want to make eye contact because i don't want her to think i'm judging her or i don't want to embarrass her any more than she already is. i LOVE the idea of saying a simple "hang in there mom". that is wonderful and may give just the encouragement a desperate mom needs in that moment!!

  2. I saw one of those 'hang in there, mom' moments at lunch today too. I was in line at the mall for lunch when a mommy and her three young (under 5-ish) girls spilled the youngest's drink. It went everywhere. Mommy had her hands full with the tray from the fast food place, book bag, diaper bag, sippy cup, etc. Myself and the woman standing in line in front of me helped pick up the drink cup and called over someone to help clean up the spilled soda. I couldn't help but feel sorry for the mom and a 'hang in there smile' was offered by those of us in line.

  3. I love this post. I've been where you were and where Mall Dad was so many times. You both parented like pros. It is so hard to keep yourself from getting sucked into the meltdown and going into full tantrum mode right along with the kid. It takes a massive amount of intestinal fortitude to handle things as calmly as you and Mall Dad both did. Well done!


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