August 18, 2010

Don't Be Afraid to Follow Through

Working part-time in retail, I have the chance to see parents in various situations... some days they're in their glory, some days you can tell they just want to go home and hide from the world. Recently, I've started wondering why so many parents are afraid to follow through on their threats of punishment.
Here is a typical scenario: a parent, usually a mom, is walking through the store with a child who is having a meltdown over a toy, clothing, or something along those lines. Mom says "If you keep this up, we're going home." Child keeps screaming, wailing to be exact... mom repeatedly says "If you keep this up, we're going home." The tantrum continues... and a half hour later the mom and screaming child are still shopping.
I'm not afraid of the follow through. There have been times when we've had to leave the pool or a park because of a meltdown. It's not fun to be the bad guy, but that's part of being a mom. I always give a warning ("If I have to tell you again, then we're leaving"), but if we get past the warning stage, we're done. My daughters know I'm not afraid to leave no matter what we're doing.
I realize that some meltdowns are due to exhaustion... but maybe that, too, is a sign that it's time to throw in the towel and go home. Other meltdowns can also be part of a deeper behavioral issue, which is why I don't judge. I've seen people stare at the mom and child in question... or glare... or make obnoxious comments regarding their parenting skills. Sometimes the meltdown is part of the learning process. I get that.... but those tend to be the parents who are using other methods to calm their children and not using empty threats as the solution.

14 comments:

Mrs. Werginz said...

I am not a prent yet but I hope to be one that follows through! I have been with my sister and her boys and we have left the grocry store while shopping because she said she would!

I LOVE your blog...your girls saying what they want to be when they grow up melted my heart!! So cute!

www.werginznewlyweds.blogspot.com

Quadmama said...

My aunt told me she once was in the checkout at the grocery store when my cousin threw a massive fit. She asked the clerk to keep her stuff... took my cousin home and then went back and paid for her groceries.

Stephanie Barr said...

I have left on more than one occasion because my son lost it in a public place. It's one reason why it happens so rarely. He learned, when he's told to stop or we're leaving, we mean it.

Helene said...

I'm wishy-washy following through, I'll admit. It depends on the situation. I try really hard not to say we'll leave if I know we can't...but there have been times I've made threats and haven't followed through. Horrible, I know.

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

Our girls are 19 months, and I try to follow through with what I say to them, even now. I think it's imperative to establish ground rules as a parent, and follow-through is a biggie.

I can only imagine you have some stories to tell at the end of a day of working! :)

Kimberly & Alex said...

Wow, what a hot topic you've chosen. But a very important one. I think some moms make threats that THEY don't want to follow thru with, like leaving a shopping mall. I try to only make threats that I KNOW I am willing to follow thru with. Or offer rewards for good behavior.

Brooke said...

It's no fun to follow through, but it needs to be done. It's part of our duty as parents and benefits everyone in the long run.

I recently wrote about our experience with this: http://betterthanboogers.blogspot.com/2010/08/following-through-kinda-sucks.html#comments

Kim said...

SO TRUE! Sometimes I just have to scrap my plans, deal with my children, and go home.

Lana said...

It is crazy when you have to deal with a melt down. I am a mother of two girls, almost 6 & 8, and I am headed toward 49 in May! YIKES! I kind of took the easy way out and usually took just one with me to town (This is about a 40 mile trek! Our county has ONE red-yellow-green stop light, ONE fast-food place, Subway, and a few small grocery stores).

I'm a new follower. Please stop by for a visit at www.walkingtheoff-beatenpath.blogspot.com

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Quadmama said...

The follow through is never easy, but, hopefully it's teaching them something.

reanbean said...

We're all about following through and have removed our kids from all sorts of situations. So, they know we mean it when we say, we'll be leaving if this behavior continues. You're completely right, it may not be easy and it's definitely not fun, but barking empty threats just sends the kid the wrong messages.

MaryAnne said...

I'm with you on this. We've left stores, play dates, museums and play groups - and I think it's part of the reason my kids are very well behaved in public the vast majority of the time.

Marilynne said...

When I remember those times I feel really tired. My kids could be real beasts in the store. I finally began to bribe them with a treat if they were good the entire time we shopped. Once or twice not getting the treat and they knew I meant business. Still, I wasn't very good at managing that situation.

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