We've all been there. The shopping cart is full of groceries and you're just a couple of shoppers away from the checkout clerk when your toddler goes ballistic. A minute ago she was nibbling on a graham cracker, but now she wants "wa wa NOW," and is out of control.
You want to disappear through the floor. The thought "Should I stay or should I go?" flashes through your mind. Should you make a beeline for the door and abandon a grocery cart full of groceries, not to mention your relationship with your local clerk (who will have to retrace your steps and return all the perishables)? Or, do you let your kid scream on while you try to ignore the vicious glares of strangers?
When my three kids were toddlers, I always fled. I did so frustrated and frazzled, knowing full well that if anyone in the house wanted to eat, we'd have to return for round two later that day. I preferred the disappointment of a job left undone over withstanding the stares of other shoppers and the misery of soldiering on with a tight grip on my wailing child's arm. (One older relative actually told me that she would keep a hard pinch on her kid's arms through the whole store. This was obviously before the days when bruises on your child's body were grounds for a visit from Child Protective Services.)
I've come to the conclusion that as much as we try with various tactics - making sure they've napped, are fed and have their favorite toy with them, we can't always control when toddler tantrums happen. At least there's comfort in knowing you're not the only mom whose toddlers go crazy in public. Many Circle of Moms members have shared tales of grocery store meltdowns -- as well as great ideas for handling the shopping store meltdown without melting down yourself.
Jennifer, for one, says she simply ignores the stares of fellow shoppers and tries to find the humor in the situation. "When my 5-year-old was younger and she used to throw a tantrum, as long as it wasn't on the concrete or something, I would let her have her tantrum and stand or sit nearby," she says. "These people that stop and look don't usually have children themselves and have no idea what you're going through, but usually no one flat out stops."
Nichole I. agrees, saying bring on the stares. "My 19-month-old does it and I just let her go on with it and eventually they will tire themselves out," she says. "If people stare, let them. In most cases they don't have kids."
Some moms find that serving up choices mid-supermarket works. "I tell my kids that their behavior is unacceptable and then I offer them a choice," says Karli B. "They can choose to behave properly or they can choose to go home and I will come out without them at a later time. I find that giving them a choice, even at 2 years old, puts the responsibility for their behavior on them and they will usually choose the right one. I give them three chances and then I tell them that they have made [their] choice to leave and we are going home. "
In an attempt to keep her own composure, Karli B. says: I just stay focused and concentrate very hard on staying calm, taking deep breaths and no matter what they say or promise I just keep walking. I follow through with what I have said and they learn very quickly that I mean what I say and they usually don't push too much anymore."
But like me, there are many moms out there who just panic and flee.
"I usually give my son a VERY stern word and pick him up and leave," says Circle of Moms member Carmina B. "I hate the embarrassment of looking like I have a naughty child, especially because I'm a young mother and people are extra judgmental."
And Andrea E. says she leaves too, but not before she smiles at the people who are staring. "When people stare at my 'awful' child, judging me, I nod and smile. If I feel like I might lose it, I pick up the child and leave the store. It's inconvenient, but they get the message that that kind of behavior will not be tolerated and if they want to act up they can do so in their room at home. Then I sit down and have a glass of wine."
How do you keep from losing it when your toddler melts down in public?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.