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'Why do you let him do that?'


June 05, 2018

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My child is spread-eagle on the floor of the cereal aisle. I had refused to buy the so called, “breakfast item” that is actually chocolate chip cookies rolled in sugar. Random person asks, “Why do you let him act like that?” Inside my head or possibly out loud, to random person I say, “Oh…because I love it! I love the stares and being the main attraction here at the Wal-Mart Supercenter! It is the ultimate pleasurable experience to have a full cart of groceries and a child I must physically remove from the store!”

I have and still do, avoid the store with my children as much as possible. Although my children are older now, I’d rather skip a grocery outing with them. Sometimes they can be helpful. I make it a mission and send them off for specific items, especially if it is something of special interest to them. The problem is this can make a 20-minute trip into an hour while I wait for customer service to call their names over the loud speaker. Regardless of our massive technological advancements, the speaker sounds like it was made in 1983 and my children are deaf to it.

I still get shopping done at record breaking speed during my lunch hour to avoid taking them. Since their birth I have found ways to make lone, mission critical stops at the store. Being nibbled to death by ducks would be preferred over a full-on grocery trip with my two children when they were toddlers.

When my son was at prime meltdown age, my daughter would have still been strapped in a carrier or strapped to me, contained and immobile. I have made exits with my son under my arm crying and screaming while pushing the stroller containing my daughter.

My son was a loose cannon. He did not do well in large crowds and would become overstimulated easily. With this said, meltdowns were weekly and sometimes daily. I entered grocery stores with a game plan and predetermined exit route. Trigger areas were always in the peripheral vision; candy aisle, toys, etc. A successful trip to the store consisted of getting in and out while my daughter slept in her carrier and my son’s focus remained fixated on the hot wheels car in his hand.

I was, and still am, always prepared to abort. There is nothing — absolutely nothing — in that basket that I wasn’t prepared to walk away from. No hesitation! When drink orders were taken at the beginning of a restaurant meal, to-go boxes were already requested.

If children learn anything about us as their parents, it is that we will leave (with them, of course) an event, a store or restaurant, if we must. I never threaten if I cannot follow through. I don’t tell them that we will not be going to Florida when the trip is booked and deposits made. There are plenty of opportunities and outings I’d rather back out on to prove my honesty! (snicker, snicker)

Before one foot goes inside the restaurant, the ice cream shop, toy store, trampoline park or birthday party, the abort strategy must be in place and preferably announced to the entire family before entrance!

To answer the onlooker’s question, “why do you let him do that??” because, sir, if you spank a child that is already overstimulated and hypersensitive they will do nothing more than scream more and probably hit back. The solution? Time. Time driving and redirection will turn this meltdown around. This starts by getting them out of the environment they are currently in. Sometimes we have to do this to teach them consequences for their behavior. Sometimes we have to do this because they truly have an inability to emotionally deal with their surroundings. Too many people, noise, lights and excitement can send some children into a spiral of stimulation.

As adults, it is hard to relate to a child’s perspective or understand when a child is misbehaving or having uncontrollable emotions. They have yet to learn how to control these emotions resulting in what “looks” like a spoiled brat.

So, if you’re no stranger to the grocery store meltdown, and the random onlooker gazing in judgment, just remember there are those of us who see you and understand. It’s just a few moments of an eye rolling experiencing. If you chose to let them scream and stand firm in the grocery line, by all means go for it! You are a soldier with completed errands!


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