What to do with a kid’s tantrum tears
I wheeled my cart to the front of the store and waited for the mom in front of me to finish putting her items on the conveyer belt. Seated in the cart was a toddler, probably two or three years of age. She was a blond pixie, and cute as a button. When she asked to get down her mother obliged.
Pixie’s cuteness left when she ran to the shelves next to the counter and begged for the small bag of chips. Her mom told her no. She asked for pretzels. The answer was no. Miss Pixie begged for gum, for candy, for anything else she could find and she touched item after item, begging. The answer was always no.
Finally, Mom told her to come back to the cart, which she did.
Now the tears came. Mammoth tears. Pouring down your face tears. Woe-is-me tears. Won’t-you-feel-sorry-for-me?! tears. Pouting tears. Buckets of crocodile tears.
Along with the tears, there was a lot of noise. Loud, moanful wails. Sobbing wails. Gasping for air wailing.
One by one, customers and a clerk came by and asked the little gal what was wrong. From their actions, one would have thought the child was in danger or in pain. Their glares toward the mom told me what they were thinking. Definitely, there was one side to this story, and it was not the mother’s side! How could a mother be so uncaring? How could she continue loading groceries into her cart while her child sat there crying?!
Because it was the right thing to do, that’s why.
Before the tears had ever begun, little Pixie and I had exchanged smiles. I’d said hello and she had smiled back at me.
When little miss Pixie turned and looked at me with those mournful eyes after the crying episode, I gave her another smile.
Seizing an opportunity, I spoke loudly enough for mom to hear.
“You have a goooood mommy. You are so lucky to have a mommy who cares about you. I saw that you begged and begged, and your mommy kept telling you “no”. I’m so glad your mommy loves you enough to keep saying “no” when she has told you “no” once. She didn’t change her mind because you cried and pouted. She’s a good mommy, and you really don’t need to cry.”
Her tears stopped at once. Eyes wide, she seemed to contemplate what I said. I saw a hint of a smile in her eyes. Uh huh. This kid knew what she was doing all the time. Her tears were gone. I find it interesting that when people offered her sympathy, her tears fell faster and her crying was louder. Perhaps, instead of encouraging kids to misbehave by giving positive reinforcement, we should try encouraging moms to “stick to their guns”!
When it was my turn at the counter, I turned my attention to the pile in my cart and started putting my groceries onto the belt. I’d forgotten about the conversation because all was quiet in the grocery cart now.
I almost missed it, but just as mom turned her cart to wheel the groceries and cart outside, she caught my eye.
There was a faint glimmer in her eyes as she mouthed the words, “Thank you.”
Certainly. Moms need all the applause they can get when they are doing it right.
Applaud the moms who are doing it right.
I remember those days.
Folks critiqued our parenting when they didn’t even know our names. There was the senior citizen who told me that she couldn’t believe I didn’t care if my son electrocuted himself. We were in the doctor’s waiting room and he had crawled underneath the fish tank to see how it worked. She seemed to know more about it than I did.
Another day, a clerk in the store told me I just needed to whip my kid. We’d traveled for six hours with a toddler who had spiked a fever and was sick the entire trip. The young whipper-snapper was obviously too young to have any kids of her own, but she knew exactly what should happen. Somehow she missed a runny nose, pulling at ears, and feverish face of the kid whose head was on my shoulder. (You see how I remember this over a quarter-century later?!)
I especially remember the time an older woman gave me the encouragement I needed. I think she made a practice of encouraging moms, especially when they needed it. You can read about that here.
What Fun it is to Pass it on!
On this day in our Food Lion, I paid it forward. Instead of nailing the mom (or the kid), I chose to affirm what was right and good. Encouraging moms is a wonderful way to empower them in their parenting.
It’s so easy to sit back and make a judgment call about a behavior when we don’t know the whole story. It is so much better to find things for which we can applaud and then do it heartily.
Encouraging moms is more important than critiquing them (unless they ask). How much better to look for the good and begin paying it forward? It will make this world a better place. Plus, it’s guaranteed to give our kids better moms!