A Tantrum Hero and some Lessons Learned

This morning I told a friend that I thought my three year old had really turned a corner, that he had more of a handle on his emotions and that he had gone almost a week without throwing a tantrum. I was delighted that he had matured so much, even smug you might say.

I got my comeuppance this afternoon.

I made some classic mistakes, doing things that I really should have known better than to do which all culminated in this small boy standing in front of the buggy (which was laden down with shopping) and hopping up and down screaming, while purposefully blocking my path, in a (thankfully very quiet) foodcourt that I had bought the wrong thing for him to eat and he DID NOT want it. I spoke reasonably to him, I tried to get around him and he moved to block my route.

Six times.

In my attempt to balance my overstuffed hand/nappy bag with the groceries in it and the tray with snacks, the 16 pack of toilet roll that was precariously balancing on the handle of the buggy fell. (WHAT was I thinking?) I’m sure it was a comical sight to onlookers, despite the assault on their eardrums.

Four men at an adjoining table watched sympathetically, and one did a dog whistle, a brilliant diversionary (and not interfering) tactic. Alas, this boy was resolute and it didn’t work, but I liked his style.

Just then, my hero arrived. A lady working at another store in the foodcourt saw my plight and rushed over, took the tray with hot food on it from me and followed my older boy over to a table. This lady is my tantrum hero, it was as if she had read my previous writings on tantrums. She swooped in and removed one thing that was causing me difficulty without interacting with the upset (enraged) child at all. If I had a “tantrum hero” award, she would get it. This is how a stranger can make things better. Thank you tantrum hero.

We sat at the table, except for the upset boy, who despite my chatting to him, trying to bring him close, speaking calmly to him and trying to reason with him, continued to sob and scream interchangeably. The colour of the chairs at the table chosen offended him and he refused to sit. There was nobody next to us and the area was big and almost empty, but one thing was clear, we needed to leave quickly. My older boy and I ate and when we were almost finished and I got up to get the buggy sorted to move a switch flipped. The sobbing stopped. “I didn’t get my share” the small voice said and tucked in. End of tantrum.

I was hugely proud of myself that I stayed calm, and didn’t get stressed. This is because I am very used to his tantrums now, or partly because I have now put myself out there as someone who can deal with tantrums so I needed to keep my wits about me, raise my game and be that person. Either way, it was good for all concerned.

Today was a learning experience, and I found that I have learned a lot (sigh) about public tantrums recently.

I’m only human, I made some mistakes today that helped cause the tantrum, or at the very least made it more likely. Here, in the interests of helping others avoid public meltdowns are my self confessed errors.

There’s no rocket science, I’m just a mother sharing what mistakes I have made and what lessons I have learned. It’s common sense, but I think that it deserves repeating and remembering.

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Mistake 1:

Bringing three small children to the shopping centre after school– these errands are always best done in the morning and with as few children as possible. I didn’t have a choice today, the boys both needed shoes so they had to both come.

Mistake 2:

Bringing a tired three year old anywhere– even though he won’t nap, he gets exhausted and is much more likely to have a meltdown when he is tired. I should have known better.

Mistake 3:

I needed to make some phonecalls this morning so the three year old was parked (very willingly) in front of the TV while I did it. Too long have I been in denial- I must admit that too much TV brings out the worst in him. I must prepare for the consequences.

Mistake 4:

We had a very early lunch so by the time we’d done our jobs he wasn’t just tired but he was hungry too. I had brought some snacks in the car but I didn’t offer them until it was too late.

Lessons learned. Til the next time.

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