As I was checking out of the grocery store and in the lane next to me a young mom walked with her son over to look at the matchbox car display while grand-mom paid for the groceries. Then all of a sudden when the word “no” came out of mom’s mouth the tantrum ensued.
The boy looked to be about 3 years old; he was jumping up and down screaming about the car he wanted to have and mom said something in Española to the effect of, “you can only look at it, not touch” as she grabbed his hand and backed up so that he was far enough away to not be able to touch the display. The screaming got louder; and mom got louder along with him. After a few minutes of this behavior mom gave in and bought the toy, but put it in a grocery bag and refused to let Junior have it.
Thinking I would be clear of the family drama I left the store through a different than the family was departing. But much to my dismay the drama followed me to my car as our cars were parked side by side. Agh!
Yes, you guessed right. By now mom was angry and impatient; she had forgotten all of her parenting skills; she was reacting to her son off of the embarrassment and frustration she experienced with him inside the store. If that was not enough, grand-mom was putting her two cents into the scene with her verbal barbs.
What kind of lesson are you teaching, I asked the mom as she was putting her son in the car. Her response was that I should mind my own business. What you don’t understand, I said, is that it becomes my business when you allow your son’s behavior to impose upon my life. But just she got in her car and left.
It does not matter whether as a parent you are into Free Range Parenting; Helicopter Parenting; Authoritarian Parenting or any other parenting method there were several teachable moments the mom missed out on that you should not.
Lesson 1. Small children need naps. Just because they are dressed in polo shirts, shorts, tennis shoes and you call your son your “little man” does not mean he is. According to WebMD: Charles Shubin, Medical Director of the Children's Health Center of Mercy Family Care in Baltimore discusses why naps are essential for toddlers.
Lesson 2. Let your yes be yes, and your no be no. This Biblical lesson is timeless. Standing on what you have said not only builds trust but provides stability; children need to be able to trust their parents. Trust begins with parents supplying their child's basic needs and teaching them the simplest of tasks: like picking up their toys when playtime is over.
Lesson 3. Remove Junior from the situation that is causing him to escalate. Mom could have simply taken Junior to the car and met grand-mom for curb-side grocery loading. Parents have the opportunity every day to impression their children with positive or negative lessons every moment they are together. How do you choose?
Lesson 4. Last but certainly not least: Parents, control your temper. Children imitate what they see and hear. If you do not believe me go to YouTube and watch any of the endless hours of videos that highlight children imitating their parents. Decide how you want to be portrayed when your video is aired and live by it so your children will be imitators of a gentle, tolerant spirit. Yes, we all make mistakes, but make sure your mistake is a one-time occurrence and not a habit. Debbie Pincus, MS LMHC, discusses how parents can gain control when their anger is getting the best of them in her article at Empowering Parents website.
It is important to remember: our actions speak louder than our words. Yes, we live in a difficult world, with lots of influences and distractions, but shy of being a hermit; our children’s behaviors do affect others. What affect to you want that to be?
Let me jump ahead and connect the dots for you.
One foggy morning in Wyoming several years ago my colleague and I drove up to my Client’s home to find dad standing at the curb in tears. As I exited the SUV I listened to bellowing screams of anger and hate-filled verbal abuse coming from inside the house and listened as dad related what happened. Dad said he thought it would be helpful if his daughter could get a shower and wash her hair before she traveled with our SafePassage Transport Team to the RTC. But instead of her being appreciative she was yelling and throwing things at him…just like his ex-wife used to do.