Panicked Parenting

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panicked parenting

It happened again, this time as we were leaving the gym. A random, out of the blue, seemingly unexplained tantrum that was very loud and drew the side eyes of strangers and other moms. I panicked; I didn’t know what was wrong and I just wanted us out of the public eye. I tucked one twin under my arm while the other ran behind me screaming. 

This is panicked parenting and sadly its happened many times. Its happened in the library playgroup when my son wouldn’t let other children help clean up near him, at the park when turn-taking came into play, and when one twin pushed the handicap button to open the door at the museum and the other didn’t. 

I’ve read the books and know the tools to get myself out of these situations when they arise. I have a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and years of experience working effectively with young children, but when it comes to my own little ones I seem to be at a loss. 

I redirect, offer hugs, use calming techniques or act silly, but at times there is nothing that will bring them back from the tears and screams.

No experience has prepared me for the feeling I get when I want to shut down these tantrums, and fast. My flight instinct kicks in when a tantrum goes down in public. If I don’t think it can be resolved or that I can effectively stop what has started without a spectacle being made. I want to flee the scene. My self-conscious feelings of judgy onlookers and the fact that I am always outnumbered by three children sparks a fear in me like no other. 

Once we were home from the gym and my son was calm I asked him why he cried when we were leaving. He responded that he wanted me to wait for him. In my panic I walked ahead of him, causing him to become more upset. Had I slowed myself down and put on a more drawn out show for our lobby audience perhaps we would have left in smiles rather than tears. 

The trauma of these incidents haunts me. My panic and failure to stop and consider my child’s feelings leaves me ashamed and the spectacle of it all leaves me embarrassed. 

I want all the next times to be different. I will slow down, we will happily come to a compromise or solution, we will hug big hugs, and the tantrum will be a thing of the past. I can’t say that I won’t panic the next time I can’t help any one of my children through their very big feelings. I can’t predict that the setting and the onlookers won’t make me feel bad about myself as a parent. I can only try my best to be better and fight my own feelings to best help my little ones

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