On Father’s Day we went to the zoo and I witnessed some of the best parenting I have seen in a long time. I had not been to the zoo in several years and had forgotten how many small children can be found on the premises. One father and son came to my attention. The son was misbehaving. Granted, little boys have difficulty sitting still for any extended period of time, this kid appeared to be about six years old and should have been able to follow basic instructions. However, he chose not to. His father warned that if he did not stop jumping out of his stroller and throwing his toys and sunglasses on the ground they would leave.
I paid little attention since I had heard such threats numerous times from parents at different venues. Usually either the child stops, or the exasperated parent tries tirelessly to get the child to cooperate. I was pleasantly surprised to see this father actually take his child home. They left the zoo.
Having children I know how frustrating it can be when they decide to have an all out temper tantrum in public, and how sometimes it is just plain problematic to get up and leave. But it has to be done. If parents constantly ignore their children’s bad behavior, or worse, provide empty threats, then the kids do not learn to ever behave properly. Next time mom and dad say no, the children know they just have to push the right buttons to get what they want because mom and dad won’t follow through.
I know how inconvenient it must be to leave the zoo less than an hour after you got there, especially if you live further away. I know how annoying it is to pay for two tickets and a rented stroller only to realize you just wasted that money. But before you start letting your mind go there, realize that you did not waste that money, you spent it on a lesson that your children would not otherwise have learned. Of course ideally we would never have to dole out those types of ultimatums because our children would all be little angels, but in reality, you just taught your kid a great lesson. I am willing to bet that little boy will think twice about testing his father again.
How do you handle tantrums in public?