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Temper Tantrums in the Grocery Store

Temper Tantrums in the Grocery Store

I was horrified as I stood in the grocery store aisle. My two-year-old daughter, Darcy, was screaming and flailing her arms as she sat on the floor. “Stop, Darcy! You’re not going to get cookies that way.”

Feeling my face flush, I tried to avert my eyes from the scowling woman walking by. I felt like a bad mother, overwhelmed with how to cope with my daughter’s disobedience. But in time I learned some important things to help me respond in a loving way, and I think they might also be helpful to you.

  1. I learned not to take my daughter’s behavior personally. I became frustrated because it felt like she represented my bad mothering. But Darcy chose her reaction, and I could only influence her through disciplining her effectively. Therefore, I didn’t need to become angry. I realized that even if every mother was perfect, our children would still misbehave because they are human.
  2. I learned that I needed to be consistent when it came to disciplining her. Our children will never become perfect, but they will obey more often because they know we’re always going to give a consequence.

I suspect this is why children misbehave in public so often. They sense there’s a greater possibility that we won’t follow through. That’s why we must be willing to inconvenience ourselves to be consistent. If it takes walking out of the store to take him home (eaving the groceries behind), we must see the value and know that it will pay dividends of future obedience. Hebrews 12:11 assures us, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”

  1. I learned I needed to pre-plan consequences and rewards. It’s much harder to be consistent when we don’t know our options. So before going out again, have a list ready. For example, for rewards, we could show an acceptable snack at the beginning of a grocery run and remind our children how they’ll get eat it at the end if they are good. (By the way, does your child know your definition of what “good” entails?) For a consequence, you can go home, not attend some desired activity, or allow no cartoons when returning home. The reward or consequence is dependent upon the age of the child and what he values.

And one funny option when your child is in the midst of a meltdown? Look at him and say, “Just wait till I tell your mom about this.”

At least he’ll stop crying enough to say, “But you are my mom.”

By: Kathy Collard Miller is a popular women’s conference speaker and the author of over 50 books including No More Anger: Hope for an Out-of-Control Mom. Check out Facebook: Kathy Collard Miller Author. Twitter: KathyCMiller

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