When a child screams in public
July 20, 2012 Leave a comment
My daughter, at 23 months and 51 weeks, has taken up professional tantrum throwing. It’s a very competitive fine art among toddlers, usually predicated on the inability to exercise free will and recognize potentially dangerous situations.
I was always unsure of whether or not I would actually have kids. And this dilemma often occurred when I heard one screaming like a banshee in a store. So over the last few weeks, as my daughter has decided to exercise her lungs in public, I have become the mother that I often dreaded. The mother of a screaming child.
A toddler has a particular method of screaming that can make an adult cross eyed. It’s a pitch and decibel that seems to rise out of the soul. There’s no unhearing it when it leaves my ears ringing.
What do you do? I ask. What can you do? I am not the parent who gives in. The way I see it, we are now engaged in a power struggle simply because toddlers are self centered. They are supposed to be. That is their stage of development it’s not a criticism. They must begin to learn boundaries and she does. She understands boundaries at home. Now we are learning the boundaries outside of the home.
In restaurants we are fine. In fact, she tries to order for herself. We became fine in restaurants when I realized she was better behaved if she sat in a booth beside me as opposed to in a high chair. Of course, I figured this out as she was trying to climb out of a high chair but I got the point. That’s what matters.
As my daughter screams in my face and tries to climb out of the cart in Target, the screams get louder despite my de-escalation and distraction tactics. I picture my former self cringing. I cringe for myself. We are learning. What can I say. I am learning to be the mother of a toddler. She is learning to a well behaved child. It takes time.
I know one thing. Giving in and letting her take charge will not happen. I will not be one of those parents. I’m sorry to say, far too often there are children with screams that are completely unaddressed and those running wild in stores. They are ignored or unattended. Their boundaries are far wider than my child will ever have. It’s both a safety concern and a social issue. It’s difficult especially when you know your child is capable of behaving very well even if they appear to be momentarily feral. If this means I have to abandon my cart and leave for the time being so be it. I’m grateful for online shopping.