Since before the days of the smart-aleck boy sassing his mama (Listen, Linda!), kids have been giving their parents a fair share of attitude. Anyone who understands early childhood - parent or not - will tell you that these years are a time of huge emotions in tiny bodies and even tinier vocabularies. Worse yet, the toddler years are a time to learn independence and free will - to develop likes and dislikes - and yet, toddlers have very little (if any) control over their own lives. They get no say in the family schedule, where you go on vacation, or what they're even wearing for the day. Sure, maybe you let them pick out funky clothes my themselves every now and then. But let's face it; it's gotta be insanely frustrating to be so helpless in nearly every aspect of life.
And so, toddlers throw tantrums. It's not new and your kid certainly isn't the first or last to have a meltdown. While tantrums that happen in private are still frustrating, those that happen in plain sight are the worst. Not because it's harder to soothe your child in public. No, they're worse because you can feel everyone staring at you as your kid shrieks and kicks and wails.
Sometimes, people who don't have children of their own are extremely judgemental of parents. They see a toddler throwing a tantrum and think, "Well, that parent is doing a horrible job. If I were a parent, my kid would be a perfect angel."
HA. Hahaha. Whatever you want to tell yourself, Linda. When the cold hard truth of your overly-emotional, cranky, hangry toddler is literally headbutting you so you cut your own lip on your teeth - we'll talk.
Remember: judge not lest ye be judged. Karma will give you a terroristic toddler tornado in retaliation if you sit there on your high horse and look down on that poor struggling mama. She just needed to get some milk for tomorrow morning. Yes, she knows it's late. Yes, she knows her kid nap-skipped today because their doctor's appointment ran long. Before you assume the worst about someone's parenting (and thus their character), think of the myriad ways that little tyke's day has been upended. Have a bit of compassion.
Recently, I've noticed an alarming trend. Beyond base judgement, which is bad enough as it is, some folks are now recording toddler tantrums as they witness them. One mother recounted her own struggle to calm her screaming child on the floor of her local Target when she felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. Frozen in place, she noticed an observer recording them on their cell phone. This poor mama didn't know what to do, and I can't say I'd know how to respond either. The bold part of me wants to say, "Are you just that horrible of a human being that you find a child's emotional agony entertaining?" Or maybe, "F*CK OFF!"
Next time you notice a parent struggling with their child's meltdown, don't just stand there. HELP. Wink at them knowingly as you walk by. Approach them and tell them they're doing a great job and that we've all been there. Offer to distract their other children so it doesn't become a full-on pack howl (you know, where one kid crying sets off another kid and another kid and so on). And if you notice someone else staring at the poor kiddo and their parent, confront them. Tell them to move it along or to leave the family alone. If you don't think you can find your words, stand between them and the meltdown as a shield. Notice someone recording? Ask loudly why they're recording someone without their consent. While that's not technically illegal in a public place, being called out on the rudeness can sometimes startle people enough that they rethink their choices.
Bottom line: don't stare or judge. Acknowledge that this tiny human is jumping through some crazy developmental leaps and might have growing pains. That's human. That's the toddler life. Soften your heart a little and you might be surprised how much less annoying those shrieks become.
Have you ever encourages a parent who was dealing with a tantrum? How did they take your support? Tell me what went down on Twitter @pi3sugarpi3.