Magazine Article

Are you tired of hearing
“Be Positive” or
“Be Understanding”
when you correct behavior?

I Know I’ve said it. Others have said it. And it’s true. One thing that’s missing from those words of wisdom is a solution. How are you supposed to be positive or understanding when you’re angry, reacting, or embarrassed about your child’s public outburst or behavior?

This morning I read an article from PopSugar titled, How to Deal With Your Child’s Public Meltdown Without Causing a Major Scene, from Elaine Rose Glickman, author of Your Kid’s a Brat and It’s All Your Fault.

It’s a good article, and much of it is true. But in my opinion one HUGE thing is missing—a concrete solution to teach a child about his or her behavior is missing.
Disclaimer: To be fair, I’m sure the person interviewed for this piece, Elaine Rose Glickman, included a solution, but the writer, for whatever reason, may have left it out. It happens. Yes, my lawyer says I just protected myself from a lawsuit! Phew!
To read this article click here. Don’t forget to come back and read my solution. This blog piece is about two statements that appeared in the article.

Here’s the main statement at the end of the article.
The expert says, “By taking the child out of the grocery store, you’ve given the child what they want. They want to get out of the store and now they’re out of the store, so be sure not to cave into their bad behavior and simply go home once they calm down outside.”

We’ve all been there
Your child is having a tantrum in a restaurant or at the grocery store. You’re embarrassed. You see other people looking at you. You want to run away or hide. So what are you supposed to do? Here’s where I have a slightly different point of view than the one stated in the article.

1. The expert states, “be sure not to give into their bad behavior.”
My question is, is this really “bad” behavior? Or is this a child being a child? It is annoying, true, but is it “bad?”

2. The piece explains the need to find the cause of the tantrum. I agree and think that’s critical. Ask yourself,

Is this behavior an unregulated expression of something?
Is the behavior how your child is telling you he can’t keep it together, or she’s hungry or tired?
Is this behavior a flat out refusal to cooperate?
Has someone in the restaurant or grocery store freaked her out?

You know your child best and you have figure out what’s causing the tantrum so you know what to do next. Does figuring out the cause of the tantrum mean you shouldn’t do anything about it, not at all. You need to teach her that she can’t have a full blown tantrum when she’s upset.

3. The expert states, “By taking the child out of the grocery store, you’ve given the child what they want.” I do not believe taking a child out of the restaurant or grocery store is giving him what he wants. It may appear as if you’re giving him what he wants, but it’s “how” you do this, and what happens next that determines what your child perceives is happening.

So a child doesn’t think his tantrum is getting him what he wants, begin by being silent.
As lovingly, and as gently, as possible silently take your child outside. The message your silent removal of him sends is not lost on him. It says, I may not be reacting, but I am taking action.

4. The author suggests “cut them off by complimenting them on the great behavior they’ve been exhibiting.” I agree, that can work, sometimes. However, she goes on to say, “and offer them a potential treat when you get home if they keep it up.” I do not agree. I believe that sends the wrong message. That’s a bribe plain and simple. It can create future manipulative behavior, and no one wants that.

5. Finally, the expert states, “be sure not to cave into their bad behavior and simply go home.” I agree with this as well. But that statement is what prompted this post. The article doesn’t say what you should do instead!?

You never want to remove a child from a restaurant or grocery store and put them in the car and take them home. Proactive Parenting is all about teaching kids about their behavior. The following solution details what you can do instead of going home!

  • As I said in the beginning, begin by being silent. You silently, lovingly, and gently remove the child from the situation.
  • This next part is up to you. If you want to, go ahead and apologize to those around you. This shows your child that tantruming is causing others to be uncomfortable. If that’s not important to you, skip it.
  • Take them outside and sit on a bench, a chair, or sit on the curb – silently. Wait for your child to begin calming down and quietly ask your child, “Can you tell me why you’re upset? It’s okay, I can wait till you’re calm enough to talk.”
  • Then say, “Tell me when you’re ready to go back inside and try again.” This process tells your child, we do not leave, I will always help you solve whatever is going on with you, I love you, and I will not allow tantrums.

This authentic solution has no drama. No punishment. Just clear boundaries. You’re able to be your authentic self because you know what you are going to do next. You are not consumed by the overwhelming screaming, you have a plan, so you’re able to remain calm. You are clearly showing your child that you’re not giving in to his tantrum. You know you are teaching him about your family’s boundaries. He calms much more quickly because he trusts that you’re there for him when he can’t manage his feelings. He’s dealing with intense emotions and shouldn’t be expected to manage them all by himself, not yet.

That’s the key, calmly being present to help him learn “how” to manage his intense feelings. Like it or not raising kids is “on the job training.” Kids learn far more when they’re in the middle of an experience than they do when you talk about it later, but only if you’re calm enough to teach instead of punish. Yelling, screaming and punishing is like pouring gasoline on the fire, it’s just not helpful here.

Sharon Silver, founder of Proactive Parenting, author of The Authentic Parent Series, and Stop Reacting and Start Responding: 108 ways to Discipline Consciously and Become the Parent You Want to Be