We were at one of my girls’ favorite stores, killing the 20ish minutes we had to kill before we had a lunch meeting. I had left the house early since I had a quick stop to make and having a potty trainee around tends to slow me down a bit. We had checked out, gotten our “doggy stickers” and were preparing to walk out the door, jump in the car, and head to the meeting, when my youngest child decided she didn’t want to walk (even though she had been whining to get out of the cart to walk the entire time we were in the store). I assured her she was perfectly capable of walking, and since I was carrying a large-ish box of wipes I didn’t really have an extra arm to both carry her and hold her sister’s hand. What followed may have been the most impressive tantrum I have ever personally witnessed.
My sweet, happy, innocent 14-month-old sat down, rolled over, laid on her stomach, and began to wail the most heart-wrenching/laughter-inducing cry she may have ever wailed. She would alternate between standing up, putting her arms in the air to make the “up” signal and throwing herself back down and wailing once more. Oh, did I mention this display occurred in the foyer part of the store – between the exit doors? You know, the place everyone is trying to get through to be able to get away from that random child who is screaming for no apparent reason. Once I was finally able to keep her on her feet for long enough to take the 6 steps to get us out the door she collapsed once again, this time on the sidewalk outside of the store.
To make an already long story a bit shorter, I eventually carried her, potato-sack-style to the car and buckled her in while her older sister climbed into her car seat. Then the older one expressed an imminent need for a bathroom.
I was late for my lunch meeting.
Here’s the thing – I could have given in to her to save time and make the meeting on time. I could have picked her up once she started begging and making a scene and throwing her tantrum. But there will always be something we need to get to. There will always be something we’re going to be late to if we stay the course and discipline appropriately. At some point we have to take a stand and just say no.
We have to make our children understand that we will not allow unacceptable behavior. The world does not revolve around them, as much as they want to believe it does. It would not be fair to her sister, to me, or really even to her for me to give in when she whines like that. Now, with that being said, there are times that I give in to our children; if they are over-tired, for example. Or if they are not feeling well. But as hard as it to do, even when we are trying to enjoy a nice dinner out, if one of them acts up, either my husband or I has to take them outside (or to the foyer/bathroom/etc) and show them that they will not act this way in public.
I think sometimes we are so concerned about being the “fun” parent we ease up on the discipline. Please don’t get offended by what I say next, but raising young children is a lot like training a puppy. Consistency is key. Setting boundaries and then sticking to those boundaries not only makes your life easier (eventually) but it also makes your child’s (or puppy’s) life easier. It tells him or her what he or she can and cannot do. There are consequences for every action; whether positive (rewards) or negative (punishment).
So please, fellow parents out there in the blogosphere, as important as it is to make plans and to stick to them, be ready to make some adjustments. Sometimes plans go awry and there is nothing you can do except to laugh, exchange knowing glances with other parents who have been through this problem, and stand there with an amused/embarrassed look on your face as your beautiful little baby attempts to scale your legs because she just doesn’t want to have to walk any further. Keep fighting the good fight. It will be worth it one day.
At least that’s what I keep hearing…
This post was written by my beautiful and talented wife, Bettina. She provides her perspective on life and parenting once a month here at DADandFATHER.com.