It’s the one thing that all parents dread…you are shopping in the supermarket or trying to enjoy a family lunch and suddenly one of your little bundles of joy decides to kick off into a rage that can only be described as a volcanic eruption!
Children always manage to time their ‘little moments’ to perfection and inevitably these episodes leave you feeling exhausted, frustrated, angry and embarrassed. However, no child is an angel and at times they ALL decide to have a little tantrum and it is perfectly normal. If your child is being consistently difficult however, this is a very different thing to have to deal with as it can impact on others as well as you.
Children who ‘act out’ in public or at home or while visiting friends, at school or nursery, in the dentists surgery and so on can create huge amounts of stress both for their parents and those people around them. There is nearly always a valid underlying reason for behaviour like this, and elsewhere on this website you will find information about how to get help from professionals to manage your child’s behaviour appropriately. However, the impact of that behaviour can have long term implications and make life difficult.
Good Times…Bad Times
As parents we see our children at their best and their worst and we want others to see them that way too and to understand why they behave the way they do. It is therefore very difficult for us to understand why people react so negatively to behaviour that we may have had to learn to deal with and now consider to be quite normal. Being stared at in the street by complete strangers while your child lies on the floor kicking and screaming because they can’t have what they want is never easy, and we have to learn to deal with those moments in a civilised and calm way.
It can be very upsetting for people who are not used to your child’s behaviour to see them upset and angry, and it is important to acknowledge this and accept that although you see their behaviour as normal, other people may not. It is difficult not to get angry when you see people react in this way, but try hard to focus on your child and try to ignore other people.
People can be very judgemental but just remember that in the case of complete strangers, they have no idea whatsoever about what you have to cope with on a daily basis and ultimately whatever they may think, it’s none of their business anyway. Instead, stay calm and in control and speak clearly and slowly to your child. Try not to raise your voice and get angry as this will just make the situation much worse.
Ultimately, your focus and responsibility has to be your child. Try to stay calm if people question you about your child’s behaviour and although it is important to acknowledge that it will impact on them, think about who is being affected the most and find a strategy of managing that first. For example, your own children, your partner, teachers and fellow pupils at school spend the most time with your child and therefore they will experience the most impact and will need to find their own ways of coping.
It’s really important that you can explain to them what is going on, and leave complete strangers out of the equation. Unless your child thrashes out at them violently in the street, calls them names or behaves in other inappropriate ways, your child’s behaviour should actually have very little impact on them.