Thursday, November 10, 2005

Dealing with Toddler Tantrums

By Christina VanGinkel

With all the hustle and bustle and overcrowded aisles, long waits in lines, and just an overly busy feel associated with stores this time of year, it is no wonder that some children who are normally well behaved when shopping, show a bit of 'melt down' as I like to refer to it, at this time of year. My grandson experienced a bit of it today, to my daughter's horror, in the middle of a very busy Wal-Mart. He decided while shopping that he was not going to sit in the cart any longer. No amount of prodding, no firm 'No's', nothing, was keeping him in the cart. While many two year olds may be kept stationary to a point by the seat belts that many stores such as Wal-Mart provide in their carts, he has mastered the art of unbuckling them, several months ago in fact. So, when he asked to be taken out, it was at that point safer for him having his hand held as he walked along with his mom, then leaving him in the cart where he was intent on unbuckling his self and climbing out.

He then went from these insistent pleas to be taken out of the seat, to walking alongside of his mom holding her hand, to finally sitting in the back of the cart, where his 'eruption' occurred. A friendly Wal-Mart associate commented to my daughter, who was pushing the cart by the side, so that she could keep one hand on her son, that it would be easier if she just put him in the front seat of the cart. No kidding is what she wanted to say, but my daughter, ever the congenial person, just replied that it worked better this way. As the woman began to say something else to her, my grandson stood up, with my daughter still holding his hand and proceeded to punch my daughter, not once but three times. He then started to cry and wail and as I said before, and have a meltdown. The sales associate made a remark about a spanking doing wonders, for which my daughter said she glared at the woman and made a remark back at her that spanking an already upset and tired child was not going to solve or help anything.

My daughter, ever the calm one, told him that was not acceptable, quickly finished her shopping, checked out, and headed home. Why did he do this? He is two, he was probably tired, and he most likely felt overwhelmed by the whole shopping scene itself, with the associate pushing the whole scenario just a bit too far.

When I asked her if he received a timeout, she said he did, in his car seat on the way home, while she talked to him about what had occurred. (It was a timeout because he was not allowed to have any toys or a book.) It would have done no good to wait until they got home she explained, as he would not have a fresh mindset of what just occurred. If you have to shop with a toddler during this busy time of year, and they experience an unexpected tantrum, try to remember that they can become quickly stressed in all the commotion that comes with the holidays, but staying calm yourself will go a long way towards calming them down.

No comments: