Have you ever been out in public and seen a child have a serious tantrum? How about watching as a child literally ignores everything a parent says and acts basically like a wild animal? Have you then thought to yourself either: thank god that isn't my kid! or wow! why doesn't that parent control their kid better? I used to think that too. I also thought: why doesn't that parent say anything?
Well, my son now is that very child I used to "hate". He's become that nightmare child in certain situations. The one where the words N O mean nothing and fall silently to the ground. (There are parents out there that don't actually tell their kids NO, and their kids are hellions.) I set boundaries for my kids, I say no to them. I don't give in to their every whim. I cut their sugar intake for the day at 4 pm (and it isn't that much). And I have never taken them to McDonald's. We don't set them in front of the television for hours on end either. I make them say please and thank-you.
And yet despite all of this my son yells at me, he acts defiantly and throws horrendous tantrums over the most silly things. I used to just hold my ground and think that this was just a stage because all his energy was focused at me. Now his rants are no longer limited to me. He will yell at his babysitter- "YOU NEVER LET ME!!!" He yells at his dad- "BUT I WANT THAT CAR!!!" And he has started lying to his preschool teacher-"nope, it wasn't me. I didn't hit anyone". The lists of his rants goes on and on.
My husband and I finally talked to our pediatrician because putting our son in a time out or taking away a toy really had absolutely no effect on his behavior. We've been to one session with a therapist where we learned that he's an anxious child. She told us that we needed to redirect his energy while he is in a fit towards something else. Basically distract him. We came home and tried that. Distracting only goes so far. And his behavior hasn't gotten better, if anything it has gotten worse. I am looking forward to our next session where I ask about how we make our child realize that there are consequences for his rude behavior. (mind you this therapist has yet to actually meet my child).
In the mean time I am sometimes yelled up basically from the time my son wakes up in the morning until the time he finally goes to bed at night. This of course is effecting my brain, my emotions, my decisions and my outlook on the world in general. Sometimes I wonder how any of us humans ever made it out of childhood over the last hundred years or so. This is hard work!
If you come across a very frazzled parent in the next few weeks who is being tailed by some very obnoxious kids don't jump to your first conclusion. That very parent might be trying their very best to hold it together and not go postal on the next unsuspecting person because their child just won't stop. Or in fact they really never do say no and indulge their kids every whim. Never assume. Observe. And maybe offer some sort of small kindness to that fellow adult.