Tantrums in the Grocery Store – Part 1

Last week, we talked about the importance of teaching your children respect for their elders.  As parents, we are “elders” to our children and expect them to respect us as well.  This is never more important than when we are in public and our children’s behavior is being witnessed by “everyone in the world”.  How your children behave in public reflects directly on you as their parents.  Like it or not, right or wrong, other parents will pass judgment on your parenting skills based upon their observation of your children’s behavior.

Now that we are into our grandchildren years, we can look back and smile at all of those occasions in which we observed children going berserk in grocery and department stores. You know the 3-5 year old kids I’m talking about.

• Little Mary races around the grocery store display until she loses her balance and knocks the display over, soup cans careening across the isle.  The store employee shows up only to have the mother say “Sorry” as if it’s the store’s problem that the food is all over the floor, then turns to chase her child down another isle.

• Little Johnny thinks its cute to see how close he can swing his light saber to the dishes on display, only to find that he has grossly misjudged the distance.  Plates and glasses crash to the floor as, off in the distance, the store manager watches with a crest-fallen expression on his face.

• Little Susie decides that she doesn’t want to ride in the shopping cart where her mother placed her.  So, she begins screaming at 95 decibels and crying her little eyes out.  People nearby begin to disperse in order to get away from the ear-piercing noise while mother attempt to negotiate with the child to be quiet.  In the end, mother gives way and puts the child on the floor wherein, the child promptly stops crying and begins running up and down the store isles.

• Little Bobby takes the soda from his fast food meal and begin to play airplane with the cup.  Unfortunately, he dips the cup one too many times and the lid departs, sending soda all over the restaurant’s new carpet.  Some patrons stare at the scene while others view the restaurant manager’s angry expression and obvious mumbling under his breath.

We have all probably observed this type of early child behavior.  Assuming that the children in these examples were not suffering from a neurological or medical deficit, what would have been your impression of the parents?

When our children were young many years ago, my wife and I often asked each other why these parents would tolerate their children behaving in such an embarrassing manner. Some would try to quiet their kids but were unsuccessful.  Others carried the facial expression that showed they had resigned the battle before it ever began – their children were “calling the shots” and running the household.

Did we have that problem in our kids?  How did we solve it in less than two months with no recurrences of the behavior?  Stay tuned for Parts 2 & 3 of this blog.