Tales of the Mall Tantrum

Heres my tale of the mall tantrum. I took my kids back to that dreaded place today. I shudder to even write it…the Mall. Last time we were there, I made the grave mistake of thinking my two-year-old and four-year-old were capable of sharing a sweet treat from Jamba Juice, after playing in the germ-infested play area. What’s a little sugar to top off the mall experience, right?

Having thought I had done my due diligence up until this point of teaching my little ones how to act in public, I was quickly reminded that this education was nowhere near its end. My two-year-old’s screams pierced the ears of each meandering Saturday morning shopper. Heads turned and eyebrows raised as my redheaded toddler ferociously fought in protest when I gently reminded him that it was his sister’s turn to take a swig.

Somewhere in the recesses of my frazzled mind,

mixed between the thoughts of potentially annoyed shoppers, the sweat making my shirt sticky, the baby’s hungry cries, and now shock and frustration towards my son, I heard this quote… “Don’t be embarrassed when your kids misbehave, be embarrassed if you don’t do anything about it.”

Considering my already overwhelmed state of mind, the first part of the quote is all I could handle at that point. Besides, reasoning with a sugar-loaded, emotional toddler in the middle of the mall would be as effective as expecting an engaging conversation from a wall.

As crazed as I was feeling, that did take quite a bit of pressure off. I sighed. My kids are going to misbehave. I started to feel the tension draining. My kids are going to throw fits, lose control of their emotions, and yes, embarrass me from time to time.

This. Is. Normal. This can be expected. Mall tantrums happen.

When we all got buckled in the car and calmed down, my mind went back to that quote and to thoughts of training and educating… Right now, whether I think I’m qualified or not, I am a teacher and those three squirmy, emotionally-charged, and sometimes irrational kiddos in the backseat, are my students.matthew-henry-135657

(Just the thought of it makes me raise my eyebrows in the rearview mirror, and make that wide-eyed, sideways-mouth face that says, “Yikes! What was God thinking?!”)

I’ve had no training on what to do when a two-year old throws a tantrum in public or a course on how to handle a messy parenting situation while judgmental eyes are watching pit stains developing on my nice shirt…

It’s official: I have no idea what I’m doing.

I prayed for wisdom and then did my best to teach my little guy about how to handle this type of disappointment. Was it right? Did I succeed? I don’t know exactly, but I addressed it. I did my best to teach him. And that’s my job, right? To teach and train, sometimes repeatedly, until they learn.

Are we cured of all future public tantrums? I’m not going to count on it. You can’t teach the multiplication table in an afternoon and expect the students to grasp it fully without further instruction and practice. Hence, the reason that I took a deep breath when I walked through those double doors today, and the warm smells from the food-court hit my face…

Today was a success. We got our fill of public germs from the oversized walrus, and random shaped tunnels. Then I stopped by the counter lined with slushy jugs of fruity goodness and ordered an all-fruit, peach smoothie. Then with sheepish, wide eyes I asked the worker… “Could I get one smoothie in TWO cups?”

Have you ever dealt with a mall tantrum? How do you handle these sometimes awkward and very public parenting moments?

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  1. I try to redirect. Give a warning. If I can’t get it together we just leave. I have no idea if that’s the right or best thing.

  2. Ugh, it sounds like my morning, except we were at the doctor and it was two year old. I get upset but try not to show it. I give my kids the ‘look’ and they know Mom means business. If they do not listen, once we get back to our vehicle then they get disciplined.

    1. Aw, man. Hope your day has gotten better. Its hard not to get emotionally wrapped up in it all when they are having issues like that. Thats when you get home and feel like YOU are the one who needs the nap. lol

  3. Awwwwwwww sis. I believe as mamas, we have all been there. Honestly, when my babies are having a tantrum, I seek to get to the core of the cause. I try not to be bothered much by what others are thinking. This is a child that needs to be nurtured still. Yes they may need a spanking, a talk or a rub. Perhaps food. I try not to respond to my children’s behavior to satisfy onlookers. I handle them in a way that is beneficial to them; directly their hearts. So much love my dearest sis. You are doing well ???

    1. I guess thats where the challenge is and perhaps why there is not one specific answer of how to handle a situation like this. Because, we as moms, have to address our children in the way that is best for them in that moment, that would be directed to their specific needs. Good thoughts! <3

      1. Wonderful post sis. As we raise our children, these are issues we face daily and as parents or mamas in this case, ought to remember that our children’s hearts matter beyond how others view our parenting skills. ?

  4. You beat this grandma to the punch. All through this post I kept saying – I have to tell her to get a second cup. Children do not wish to share willingly and they each need there own drink or object. With 3 children in tow it is hard to take the time to discipline one. We use to find a friend with children of the same age and swap babysitting. One of us mothers go shop – the other mother babysits for a few hours. Ah, such peace at the mall.

  5. I’m not a mother yet but I really enjoyed reading this post. A great one! I’ll have it noted to ask for 2 cups in the future. As of right now I have to make sure I have 3 water bottles and food bowls for each of my guinea pigs because they’d fight over 1 lol!

  6. I feel your struggle. We go through this fairly frequently, but I honestly don’t get too embarrassed or flustered when there are onlookers. This might be due to the fact I helped raise my youngest sibling (13 years younger) who has mild autism and would thrown the most horrendous tantrums in public. She once bit me through my winter jacket hard enough to draw blood while standing in the check out line at Target. Fun times :/ …. So, anyway, I’ve had a lot of practice and I find that people tend to respond more to the parent’s reaction than the kid’s actual tantrum. Most thinking people understand children throw tantrums no matter how wonderful the parent may be. When I stay calm, quickly address the situation, and simply send a few smiles in the direction of the judgmental stares, people usually lighten up or even start a polite (sometimes encouraging) conversation with me. And then I just remove the kid from the situation as quickly as possible. I think the key is to pull off looking calm, cool, and collected no matter how tired or embarrassed you may feel inside. Fake it, smile at the strangers, and get out of there. 😉

    1. lol. Yes! And I’ve always admired your laid-back collectedness! That is a really good point–stay calm, cool, and collected no matter how you feel…and flee. 🙂 🙂

  7. Ha! Yes, I’ve been there. I will only go to the library now with a stroller. An armful of books, trying to check out, and wrangle two kids who are inevitably throwing a fit about something (having to go, wanting to scan her book herself, etc.) means that I need to be able to have one kid confined to a stroller. And I only have TWO kids right now! I still shudder every time we go to the library…

    1. lol. Yes, I have shuttering library stories as well, and that is why I now place a hold on any books we want and pick them up at the front desk. 😉 🙂 (or take one child at a time.)

  8. It can be embarrassing when they have a tantrum, but you just do what comes to mind to leave it easy on all sides , theirs and yours, You made the right decisions I know Jessica, Hugs, Terrri xoxo

  9. Ugh so hard! I always find myself saying “If you make it easy for me to take you out and do fun things, we’ll do fun things more often…” Plus I’m more likely to handle things like a champ when I make sure my blood sugar is on the steady! Otherwise, mommy meltdown will surely happen as soon as child meltdown begins! Love your reminder to give ourselves grace in the process. We don’t have all the answers, and there will always be judgmental onlookers, but all we mamas can do is do the best we can, with what we know in this moment, today!

    1. Yes, love this. Its so reassuring sometimes just knowing that I’m not the only one who muddles through these things. And to hear these much needed reminders to give ourselves grace and do the best we can. <3

  10. When I’m on my game I talk to my kids on their level and try to sympathise with the way they’re feeling. I’m not always on my game!

    It’s always interesting to me that people in Asia are so much more understanding of the fact that kids are sometimes loud and messy. This is a constant that had impressed me in every Asian country I’ve been to. Today on the bus my kids were being a bit loud. It wad understandable because we’d had a long day followed by getting on the wrong bus and taking an hour long detour through Ho Chi Minh City. While it was a great way to see the city, the kids were tired and just wanted to get back to the hotel for a swim. So they were being a bit loud, and we were not doing a great job at settling them. But nobody gave us a dirty look. They all smiled indulgently at the kids and told us how beautiful they are. This is something I try to bring with me in my life. There is altogether too much judgment from other people when kids are really just being kids. Smile at them, enjoy them, appreciate them for the treasures they are…and just make sure you’re stocked up on aspirin.

    1. Oh, you’re on your trip!! Safe travels! Sounds like you all are having a great time. It interesting to hear how different cultures handle things like this differently. Thanks for sharing! <3

      1. Really, it pays to remember that today’s worst experience will someday either fade from memory or make you laugh. Take it from me – The day my husband was interrogated for my murder was a terrible day, but now I laugh about it (and someday he will too, I just know it!) (To clarify, no, my husband didn’t kill me, he didn’t hurt me, I was perfectly fine, I just happened, due to an unfortunate series of map-reading mistakes, to be several hundred miles away from where he thought I would be. I wasn’t lost, I knew exactly where I was, and as far as I was concerned I was exactly where I was meant to be, but he didn’t know where I was and went to the police to file a missing persons report and ended up in interrogation.)

        I think we just need to be nicer to ourselves, and to each other, especially when our kids are little. It’s okay if your two year kid acts like a two year old. If he’s twenty and still acting like a two year old, then you’ve got problems. But if someone has a problem with your child acting in an age appropriate manner, that’s their problem. Don’t make it yours.

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