About Public Tantrums and Car Crimes

tantrumThe following guest post is by Jean Hamburg, LICSW  who has just published Cooperation Counts! Life-Saving Strategies for Parenting Toddlers to Teens, an effective guidebook for parents, to defuse family conflicts and help children make responsible choices.

Jean earned her B.S. degree from Springfield College in Springfield, MA and her MSW degree from the University of Denver, Graduate School of Social Work, specializing in Child Welfare Services. Her experience has included clinical specialties in the areas of child abuse and neglect, family therapy, developing and implementing treatment plans for at risk adults and children, anger management, crisis intervention, and classroom management issues

The Tantrum

The kids in Ms.Tucker’s class had been excited for weeks. Timmy was having a birthday party at a favorite children’s restaurant.  Everyone was invited and everyone was coming.  This was way cool, especially since Todd was going with his friend and her mother!  The big day finally came and so did all of the kids, including Todd and his friend, Alissa.

Everything went smoothly until Todd’s Mom came to pick him up at the end of the party. Although everything had been picture perfect for two hours, as often happens, the last minutes did not go as hoped.  It was all because of a gumball machine that had been placed in a strategic location so that anyone near the exit could spot it clearly, and that’s what Todd did.  Not only did he spot it but he wanted a gumball really badly, and NOW!

In the blink of an eye, everything had changed.  When the answer was negative re: the longed for treat, all heck broke loose…A Tantrum: Todd was not exactly showing his best self.  Actually, he started screaming about the gumball and the screaming turned into SCREAMING!!

Unfortunately, to add to the chaos,  Mom’s car was parked in a no parking zone and Todd’s little brother Bobby was in it.  Mom could see Bobby (she was just inside the front door), and she definitely HEARD Todd.  So could everyone else.  This was the dreaded ‘big scene in public’ situation that every parent longs to avoid, but there it was.  What a nightmare!

Mom grabbed little Bobby from the car, left the emergency lights blinking, and hoped that her car would avoid being towed or ticketed.  Everyone was looking at the screaming Todd, who let everyone within hearing range know that he wanted a gumball, and he wanted it NOW.

Mom kept her cool.  She had been under this sort of pressure before.  She knew, and Todd knew, that she was not going to have a discussion under any such (tantrum) circumstances. 

As a matter of fact, all she said to Todd was, “Are you all set?  Are you all set to get into the car?”  Of course, he was not!  All Mom said was, “I see you’re not all set.  I’ll be chatting with Alissa’s Mom,” and she proceded to do so, removing her attention-briefly.  Todd kept screaming.  Within just a few seconds, she returned to Todd and kept to her script of “Are you all set?”, etc.  Todd was most certainly not all set, but Mom was not going to converse with anyone in wailing mode. She was not ignoring.  She was consciously disengaging.

In the meantime, the other parents had all sorts of advice for poor Mom.  She thanked them but kept to her script.  She also asked one of the parents to get the manager of the store in front of which she was parked, to request permission to leave her car where it was.

Soon, the other kids and their parents all left.  Mom, holding Bobby, hung around, continuing to use only the same script.

There was no gumball. There was no audience.  There was no discussion.  Finally, Todd gave a little nod, and the threesome got into the car.  The only thing that Mom said was, “I’m so glad you’re all set to get into the car.  Would you like the radio on?”  That was it.  Period.  There would be plenty of time to figure out the ‘issue’ at another time, but right now it was time to re-group, and that’s what they did.

There are no easy ways to handle a tantrum in public, or anywhere else, for that matter. This is only one way, but at the very least, Mom was being respectful and clear with Todd, while being  able to hold onto some adult  dignity, and that’s always a good thing.  There was another good thing.  The car had not been towed or ticketed, even though it had been left in an illegal location for quite a long time.

tantrum“Cooperation Counts! Life-Saving Strategies for Parenting Toddlers to Teens” is based on years of personal and professional experience.  The Cooperation Counts program offers useful tools to busy families who are looking for positive ways to get through the inevitable tough parenting times, minus yelling, punishments, bribes, begging and threats. The program is designed to help adults provide a respectful, predictable framework for discipline and praise. The chaos that results when a child decides to be uncooperative is dealt with calmly and effectively so that family stress is greatly reduced.

For more information about the book, program, and blog, visit: www.cooperationcounts.com

Jean can be contacted directly via email: jeanhamburg@comcast.net


Eximius Theme by dkszone.net