What to do when your child throws a tantrum
Amber Strocel was seven months pregnant when she took her three-year-old daughter, Hannah, to the library. “I was trying to check out some books, and Hannah got fed up,” Strocel recalls. “She started to scream, then ran away. I chased after her, pregnant belly and all. I know everyone in the library was staring at me.”
Julie Drapeau was shopping with four-year-old Hannah, Kayleigh, two, and Rodryck, seven, when Hannah asked for a “special drink.” Drapeau said no, and Hannah shouted, “I don’t like you!” and started to scream. “She has, in the past, screamed until she actually passes out, and I could see it was getting to that,” says Drapeau.
It’s not just kids named Hannah who have meltdowns. Tantrums in the privacy of your own home are bad enough, but it’s the public ones — complete with strangers’ stares and unhelpful comments — that seem to be the worst. “It’s feeling like you have a spotlight on you, and everyone is watching to see how you’ll react, that makes it hard,” says Strocel. “I need to remind myself that my anxious negative feelings are my own embarrassment and if I act on those feelings, I’m only going to make things worse. I know — I’ve yelled at Hannah in public and it doesn’t help at all.”
Drapeau adds: “If you let yourself get upset, you just end up with two angry and frustrated people — you and your child — and that doesn’t get you anywhere.”
When she gets the occasional dis-approving stare or comment, she reminds herself: “I know I’m a good parent — not perfect, but a good enough parent. And the people who are judging me don’t know my kids or the situation. So I don’t let it bother me.”