You aren't the only one: Public Meltdowns

Katherine - posted on 05/10/2011 ( 4 moms have responded )




Re-posted from Cafemom

Once when my first son was a very young toddler I scooped him up in order to leave a playground and he instantly reacted by beating the living crap out of me with his tiny, still-dimpled knuckles.

I don't think I'll ever forget that moment, really: my beloved child smacking my face in pure fury as I staggered blindly toward the car, my overwhelming internal reaction of anger (HOW DARE YOU?) and self-pitying sorrow (my god, after all I've done for you ... how could you?).

It was all made worse by the fact that people were watching, of course. It would have been bad enough if he'd chosen to go all Ike Turner on me in the privacy of our home, but the fact that his tantrum occurred in front of a large group of fellow parents—whose children were behaving angelically, at least in comparison—was like a pitcher of salt in my wound.

I was reminded of the Public Humiliation Factor the other day when this same child (now nearly six years old) had a fairly obnoxious meltdown in his gymnastics class. He'd stubbed his toe and commenced to lying on the floor shrieking "NO! NO! NO!" while scootching away from the kindly teacher who was trying to help him. This has long been one of his most challenging behavior issues—the overly dramatic reaction to small hurts and the absolute refusal to allow anyone to 1) approach, or 2) withdraw so he can suffer privately (it's like he wants an audience to stand nearby and absorb his howls)—and I was dismayed that it seemed we'd made such little progress.

Plus, this is a class where all the parents sit around and watch from a nearby waiting room. As my son writhed around blatting like a dying goat, everyone started doing the slow chair turn to see what I was going to do.

I went in and called him over, feeling uncomfortably on the spot as all the adults curiously watched. (Truthfully, it was probably an entertaining distraction from their own kids' millionth awkward somersault.) I tried to comfort him, and when he continued whining "Noooooooooo," I gently reminded him that acting like that wasn't going to make him feel any better. I asked him what he wanted me to do (" Noooooooo…") and eventually I told him through gritted teeth that if he couldn't pull himself together we were going to leave.

The whole thing was just a thousand times more frustrating and awkward than it would have been in private, because I felt like I was on a mini stage, demonstrating a parental technique for the crowd. Not only that, but that my observers were mentally giving me a failing grade, since I probably looked like a callous asshole for not simply kissing his boo-boo and making it all better.

After our grim little chat, my son snuffled a bit more, then re-joined the class, and he was fine after that. I went back and sat down and thought how I wished the resolution to his problem would have involved him accepting a hug, instead of me eventually dishing out a threat. But that's where we're at with this particular issue right now: hugs don't work. Believe me, I've tried.

It makes me think of the pre-parenthood times when I've watched someone struggling with their kid and internally criticized their technique, and how I wish I could go back in time and kick myself right in the ass for doing so. It also makes me think how insanely, tearfully grateful I'd have been if someone in that gymnastics waiting room (or way back at that playground in 2006) had leaned over and murmured, "Oh man, my kid does that sometimes too—doesn't it suck?"

Do you find it more difficult to handle kid-related challenges in public?


Sherri - posted on 05/10/2011




Honestly no because any problems in public are dealt with the same exact way they would be at home. If for any reason there behavior is unacceptable it is stopped immediately and consequences are given. They are well aware of this and honestly I can count on one hand how many times it has ever happened in public between all of my kids. Consistency I find is the key.


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K. - posted on 05/10/2011




My 5 year old is the same way when it comes to the dramatics. She can stub her toe and act like she just got her leg amputated, whereas my 3 year old could be bleeding profusely from the eye and probably not even notice. It's only when she hurts herself though, it's like she's more embarrassed than hurt. And because of that she gets really angry and freaks out more than she usually would if people weren't around to see it. As much as I would like to comfort her when she gets hurt, I can't. I end up having to tell her to can it and calm down. Bruised pride or not, her behavior at that point is unacceptable. If she's not going to quit the hysterics long enough for me to help her, then suffer in silence dammit. Nobody else wants to hear it.

Mel - posted on 05/10/2011




yes! Its so hard. People think Im soft. Mostly my daughters daycare worker. I try to avoid yelling, smacking whatever while at a friends so she tends to muck up. So hard to deal with things when people are watching. However it depends how Im feeling at the time. Some days I dont even hesitate to give my daughter a quick smack while ast daycare when she misbehaves. At the park or shops I find it easier because I dont know the people so it doesnt matter what they think of me because how I dealwith something wlel I will never see them again, so when we;re somewhere like that I dont care

Katherine - posted on 05/10/2011




That's what I do: Ignore it. Really who cares what others think, chances are you'll never see them.

[deleted account]

yes absolutely. especially cuz i am young (22) i know people are looking at me and thinking "stupid kid, shouldn't have had a baby if you couldn't handle it. you clearly don't know anything:. my son is one of those kids who has an abnormal amoutn of energy (even for a toddler) and takes to shrieking and rocking his stroller on the bus and smacking me in the face. i just do what i would do at home and try and ignore the stares

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