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.