My husband and I took our son grocery shopping on Sunday. I wish we had a better day to go, but Sunday seems to be everyone’s best day to buy their groceries for the week. The aisles were crowded, and you could hardly turn the cart around. We were somewhere between cereal and coffee when our son honed in on a glass jar of pickles we’d already placed in the cart. He couldn’t be convinced that this might not be the best item to hold, and he was going to get those pickles! The second my husband and I were distracted and grabbing the Rice Krispies, he decided to undo his buckle and get up out of the cart for a better reach, and man, is he quick! Inevitably us grabbing him and settling him back in the seat led to ear shattering screams. Those screams sure do carry. I was once approached by a well-meaning restaurant employee, “Ma’am you have a very boisterous child.” Yes sir, I sure do! With boisterous child in full on meltdown mode, my husband and I were a little lost, a little embarrassed, and felt ourselves starting to get angry. Which leads me to this blog. Meltdowns are inevitable. They can be trying, but we will get through them. Here are a few ideas on how you can help yourself and your child through these moments.
Give them a task- Distraction can be your best friend. Ask them to count the ceiling tiles, sing their ABC’s in their quietest voice, play a quick game of ‘Simon Says,’ or help you check items off your list. Giving them a task may only work for a minute or may work for the duration of your trip. Stay positive and try a few different options if one does not stick.
Be prepared for problems- I always try to make sure I have my purse stocked with snacks and our favorite toys in tow. Being physically prepared is only part of the battle here. Make sure that you are mentally prepared as well. Be efficient and timely. Talk everything out with your child, even if they are not of the age to completely grasp what you are saying. If you tell them exactly where you are going, why you are going, and approximately how long you will be there, they will be better prepared for your trip. Verbalizing this will also help keep you on task.
Pretend you’re at home- Try not to worry about other people’s opinions. This is easier said that done and is one of my biggest setbacks. I have a pretty good understanding and handle on my child’s behavior and know his quirks. However, other people do not, and that is what forms a pit in my stomach when he gets a bit worked up when we are out in public. I need to remind myself that I am his parent, I know what is right for him, and that these other people do not matter. Their opinions do not need to affect me or how I parent my child. I find myself repeating positive mantras to maintain my cool and remind myself to ignore the judgment, that I am most likely projecting on myself.
Breathe with your child- Studies show that deep breathing reroutes neurons in your brain and has a calming effect. Deep breaths can be beneficial for both of you in a heated or tense situation. My son and I have a game that we play when he needs to calm down, we breathe in as deep as we can and when we breathe out, we try to make the others hair move. It’s silly enough to keep him engaged and helps him zero in on deeper breathes.
Stay calm, get creative, and always remember that this too is a phase!