You read about a tantrum, but have you experienced one in public?
Last week me and my little mini-me went on an outing, to the local Spar (Yes, it counts as an outing)! Everything went great until we approach Spar and Minki saw the mini trolleys (Super cute, but quite unpractical for grown-ups). She literally pushed me to the mini trolley section, grabbed one and then pointing her little finger to another mini trolley saying “Take that one Mamma.”
By now a few innocent bystanders were already looking and I could see what they were thinking. It was as if the one lady’s stern face was saying: Discipline your child right now. I tried to tell Minki that Mommy is taking the big trolley for lots of yummy stuff, but that didn’t resonate well. Her voice steadily raising and her little finger going up and down more aggressively I decided to lose this battle and just grab the mini trolley. Dodging the stern lady disapproving looks we entered Spar…
Me, bend over like the Hunchback of Notre Dame and Minki strolling around like the coolest shopper ever. More curious looks ensued… Saying to myself “Just get the basics Helene” I headed for the bread section.
Unfortunately Minki had the same idea and started piling enough bread to feed an army in her little trolley. By now the bakers were peering from behind the bakery, laughing and pointing at this little bread lady.
I tried to direct Minki to the next aisle, all the while silently repeating “You can do this, you can do this.” But then she saw the vegetable section (damn your perfect layout Spar)! And headed straight for the potatoes.
Throwing potatoes into her trolley like a madwoman, attracting even more looks… Still the end wasn’t near. She grabbed some sort of pumpkin (I’m not a MasterChef), and put them on her head. And then into her overflowing trolley.
I think the pumpkin-boobs was definitely not on purpose! But still rather embarrassing…
This trip was going south very quickly… I realised that, while trying to grab potatoes rolling over the floor because her trolley was already packed to the brim. I definitely got a few sympathetic glances, but now my patience was long gone and I was feeling hot from head to toe.
I need to get her out of here now. I literally put my foot down and said in my sternest voice: “Minki Mariette put down the potatoes!” She stopped and for one blissful second I thought: It worked, take that Nanny McPhee! But then her lower lip started quivering… O oh… I know the signs… wait for it… wait for it….
Ba-haaaaaaaaaaa!!!! Minki started crying at the top of her little lungs.
Trying to console her, even bribe her with cheese curls, definitely not working. She planted her feet firmly in the ground and just stood there and throw a full blown tantrum. Now EVERYBODY was looking. The stern lady from outside, the baker, the managers and even the till cashiers were stretching their necks to see what was happening.
This is how public humiliation feels, I thought for a split second. Standing next to your two year old, surrounded by bread and potatoes, while she screams louder than Sharapova on the tennis court.
Nothing worked and then I turned to my last resort: The fake goodbye. “Okay Minki, Mommy is going now. Bye!” Didn’t work. Just got more crying. Pretending not to notice I walked away (just to get her to follow me), please please please follow me, but no!
The Spar manager took her hand and console her, which of course made me look and feel like the worst mom ever. I could feel the judgemental atmosphere. I was a failure as a Mom. As a human being and worst of all I didn’t even get to buy sweet chilli sauce.
My point: Public humiliation is real. Especially when you have a very stubborn 2 year old. Can anyone relate?
So what do you do when your toddler decides to publicly throw a tantrum, resist all discipline methods and draw all the attention to your (poor) mothering skills?
How do you temper a tantrum in public?
You become a ninja mom! Duh!
You know that mom, the one that stays cool, calm and collective while still being stern and in command.
How to channel your inner #ninja-mom:
1. Avoid hangry kids
Keep snacks on you at all times. Also be mindful of your toddler’s naptime. Hungry and tired toddlers are more likely to throw tantrums. Pretty much like grown-ups!
2. Chill Mama
Give her the pack of cheese curls and let her run around in the store. Some fights are just not worth it. Save your energy for the big ones and loosen the reins (just a bit).
3. Do not lose your cool
Easier said than done. Try to keep calm. Repeat a mantra (You can do this Helene, you can do this). Or try a breathing exercise.
4. Say the magic words
Your kid just wants to be heard. Labelling the emotion will let kiddo feel you understand what she is going through. Here’s an example: “I know you want to buy all the bread and not being able to fit 200 bread loaves in your trolley makes you feel frustrated and sad.”
See what I did there? #ninjamom
5. Go back
This is my least favourite part, but if you are planning to visit the grocery store again you need to talk to your toddler about what happened and explain that her behaviour was unacceptable. Role-play the situation and show her the correct way to handle the situation.
Don’t give in, don’t ignore and don’t reason during a tantrum. According to the experts.
And if all else fails… hold on to this:
According to Potegal’s research, the average tantrum lasts about three minutes.
1. Glance at a clock
2. Take a deep breath
3. Repeat after me:
You can do this! You are a #ninja-mom!
Helene (& Minki)