Public tantrums and strangers interfering - Mothering Forums
Parenting > Public tantrums and strangers interfering
LunaMom's Avatar LunaMom 12:08 AM 06-12-2003
I know these people mean well, but boy did I get irked today by a man at the mall!

I hardly ever go to malls with DD, age 4.5, as I hate malls anyway, and she's in preschool five mornings a week so it just isn't necessary. But we were there today and she was so cooperative, and then had a meltdown in a store right before we left. I took her to a bench outside the store and was handling the tantrum very calmly, thank you, when an elderly man came up and just sort of stood there as though he wanted to say something. Of course, this made DD feel embarrassed. So I said, "Excuse me, but my daughter is upset and you're making her uncomfortable." He started saying something to her and I said, "Please, sir, I don't need any help." He still didn't go away, so I got a little less polite and said, "Please leave us alone." His wife even tried to get him moving and for some reason it wasn't getting through! Maybe dementia? Still, shouldn't his wife have been a little more proactive? Finally I said quite loudly, "Sir, I've asked you politely to leave us alone! Please go away!" Sheesh.

The whole way home DD was asking why that man wouldn't listen to me (you know, because SHE always listens to me the first time... ).

There have been other times when strangers have offered her candy when she's throwing a fit about some toy I won't buy, and once a guy actually came out of a Payless Shoes and gave her some toy they were giving away to kids at the store. Again, I know they mean well, but rewarding my child for throwing a tantrum is not what I'd call helpful!

Anyone care to share a similar story?

calgal007's Avatar calgal007 12:24 AM 06-12-2003
No way! The only thing I've ever gotten is stinkeye from strangers during my kids meltdowns.
wwhippetcrazy's Avatar wwhippetcrazy 12:47 AM 06-12-2003
I had the pleasure of having my first "tantrum" and "audience" last week.
It was weird....I mean having an audience...I mean people actually were stopped and watching.......
I got down to dd level and was talking to her so I didnt' realize people had stopped till I stood up to put dd in her sling (she was calm at this point).....

Move on people....nothing to see here!!

Mommiska's Avatar Mommiska 07:53 AM 06-12-2003
Yeah - drives me nuts. DD1 had a meltdown at our church 'Tea Room' a few months ago. I took her to the bathroom to wait for her to calm down (Tea Room was full of old ladies with hearing aids!)...

In the bathroom, one of the old ladies there told her to stop crying, that she was a big girl, and then tried to grab her arm to take her back to the Tea Room! I couldn't believe it (and it only made dd1 worse, of course).

I just told her that I was handling it, and that dd1 and I would be back to the Tea Room when she was ready.

It really is SO annoying, isn't it?
girlsaplenty's Avatar girlsaplenty 08:41 AM 06-12-2003
I was stunned the first time a stranger offered my daughter candy when she was pouting in the grocery store. She wasn't having a tantrum -- just having a sassy attitude with pouting and backtalk. (She's 6, so we've seen a lot of that lately.) I was standing there talking with her when some old man appeared and pulled a lollipop out of his pocket, started to hand it to her, and told me, "Oh, Mom -- I just need to be loved."

Now, aside from the fact that I *hate it* when strangers address me as Mom, who thinks it's a good idea to give candy to strange children??

Of course, I snatched the candy, thanked him, and we walked away very fast. I put the candy in my purse (planned to toss it in the trash later) and then had to deal with a now whiny 6-year-old who was upset because I wouldn't let her have *her* candy.


When my girls were babies, we had many, many situations with "helpful" strangers. I always just said, "I'm handling it, thanks," and that usually worked. There was one time with my first baby when she was crying (not a tantrum, just normal want-to-go-home crying) and I was trying to pay for groceries quickly and head home, when the woman in line behind us just wouldn't leave me alone. Kept offering stupid advice, kept trying to take dd out of my arms (!), and I finally had to SLAP her hand! The woman was shocked that I'd hit her but I told her, do not grab my child, do not touch her face, please leave us alone -- just BACK OFF!

Some people.
Beloved's Avatar Beloved 09:30 AM 06-12-2003
OMG, the worst we have had is when DH took DS to the dr. and DS was scared and began to have a complete fit (DS was 7 at the time) So the dr. told DS that he couldn't see him unless he was quiet (in a very judgemental way...not trying to calm him or anything ) and DS realized that all he has to do to not be seen is to throw a fit...of course he wasn't seen that day (or any day since then) You know those dr.s and their time for an aprehensive child (??&*%#) I realize his being scared at a new situation bc we hardly *ever * see an allopathic dr.

We have also had the usuall relatives telling dd or ds to stop crying and be a *big boy or girl* that always gets my goat, at least they don't get that at home.

Girlsaplenty, i thing i wouldv'e slapped the grocery store womans hand also, would love to have seen the expression on her face LOL

Lunamom, What do you think was up with that man??how strange

DebraBaker's Avatar DebraBaker 10:40 AM 06-12-2003
The most I would do is try to *identify* with the mom smiling at her or, at the most, saying, "Boy, I've been there!" but, from experience, I know that offering a toy or candy or even a lot of extra *attention* only makes a tantrum worse.

Sitting on a bench and riding out that tantrum is the best thing!!

*I* am not as nice as you and would have likely told the old fart of shove off and if he didn't I would have likely reflected where the tendency of tantruming comes from and start threatening him with mall secutiry for *stalking* (not to mention some BS about my "karate skills" LOL)

Some people are so rude like no one who has children hasn't weathered a tantrum!!

1boy1girl's Avatar 1boy1girl 11:03 AM 06-12-2003
What is it with old men?

At x-mas time Ds and I were in the process of flying out to my mom's. We were waiting at the gate to board our second flight. Ds was almost 22 months at the time and was very cranky as it was an evening flight (I ASSumed an he'd sleep thru evening flights!!). He had a fit because I couldn't carry him and his huge AO carseat and the diaper bag all at the same time. He proceded to throw himself to the floor and do a stereotypical kick and scream tantrum. When he gets to that point the only thing I can do is make sure he is safe and let him get it out of his system, which is what I was doing. I sat down next to him and let him go.

This old man comes over, leans way over him and waits for a minute. Of course Ds is intrigued that someone is peering over him like this and pauses for a moment in his screaming. The old man takes the opportunity to yell "BOO!" really loud right in Ds's face!!! He turned and walked away and I yelled after him "What the h*ll did you do that for??" He didn't answer but my jaw was on the floor as was everyone else's!!
glh's Avatar glh 11:26 AM 06-12-2003
The other day I was in the post office with my 2 yr old dd and I was telling her to come stand by me, she was about a foot away and she was quiet and not having a tantrum. Well after telling her twice, some women who was not much older than me, said to her "You need to listen to your mom". Of course dd scurried right over to me and put her head down. After I left I thought, was I right to be annoyed, is this what we mean by "it takes a village"? I asked myself if I would ever say something like that to a strange child in front of his mother. NO WAY would I do that, it makes you feel like an incompetent idiot. I think people are trying to be helpful, but they do it in such a snooty way that you feel annoyed.
USAmma's Avatar USAmma 12:05 PM 06-12-2003
When Abi has a tantrum I pretty much pick up and leave becuase her's are BAAAD. Although once I was unwilling to give up my spot in line at the checkout since we were almost out of there, and they let me go next. :0) I think it's rude that people are interfering but they probably have the best of intentions. No one likes to see a little one cry. Sometimes with Abi people will come up and say, "Why are you crying?" or something like that and she gets embarassed about it and stops.

Liz's Avatar Liz 01:07 PM 06-12-2003
People do mean well they just aren't necessarily up to speed on all the latest parenting styles. Maybe we need to stop them before they open their mouths by putting up your hand and saying, "I appreciate your concern but I am handling this my way. Please do not interfere. Thank you."
oceanbaby's Avatar oceanbaby 01:51 PM 06-12-2003
Oh, my stepmother does this! And not even with tantrums, but just every day stuff. Like I had opened our drawer of CDs to get something out, and ds saw it and ran over to play in it. I saw him, and was going to let him check it out for a bit, and then maybe take a couple out to play with while I closed the drawer. And my stepmother starts telling him "no, leave those alone, honey - you can't play with those, no honey, come back here." I kept saying, "it's fine, it's fine," but it irritated me that not only was she jumping in on guiding ds, but that she was saying "no" to him.

Another time I was changing his diaper at her house, and he was being his usual wiggly self, and she started to sternly tell him "no, you need to lay still, give your mom a break" etc. I was so irritated, and kept telling her that I had it under control and that it was fine, but she just kept on.

I've asked if someone needed any help if they looked like they were in a tough spot with a kid, but that has been the extent of my interference.
Bearsmama's Avatar Bearsmama 11:08 PM 06-13-2003
Yeah, I've only gotten the hairy eyeball and the I'm-gonna-call-the-authorities look from people.

I am always astounded at the dirty or puzzled looks I get from strangers when DS is melting down. This usually occurs at Target (note to self: no more Target trips).

DS started having the occasional tantrum a few months ago (he's only 16 mo). One time in the grocery store parking lot DS was tantruming as I was trying to get him in his carseat. It was REALLY UGLY and must have just looked awful as I had to physically hold him so he wouldn't fall behind the seats and hurt himself. I noticed that there was this older man just staring at me in the car parked right in front of me. Like and OMG stare. I was so pissed that he wouldn't stop looking at us that after I got DS in the car I calmly walked to this man's car and asked him if there was something wrong with my car or something.

Real mature on my part, huh?
khrisday's Avatar khrisday 11:23 PM 06-13-2003
Try having a 7 year old with tantrums. It's not that cutesy "I want to help but I'm an idiot" kind of advice that you get anymore, or just a stare.
3boys4us's Avatar 3boys4us 12:02 PM 06-14-2003
I'll take the opposite view luna - as my mil has early-onset Alz. and so does now another family member (an uncle) it probably was dementia. Persons with Alz. and other related disorders can't make sense from what your words are. It's pretty common for them to go up to people and stare - while either trying to figure out who you are or just trying to figure out their surroundings. When visiting mil in the home, my kids are constantly approached by seniors with this problem. Seniors with dementia love to go up to children. The best thing to do is smile and walk away. They don't understand you. And I also sympathize with the wife. It's hard to take care of demented person and sometimes just going out is major event. It may be her only social outing all day or all week. She may have hoped he would engage your daughter or perhaps she is denial. Most patients with dementia have a hard time understanding commands.

I'm sorry you weirded out by the whole event - it made me sad because now when I go out, I feel I can actually pick out the seniors who have this problem, from losing their car in the car park to asking for help in the grocery store.

I have had people try to "help" me with my kids and can be a problem but I've never had anything too bad.
calgal007's Avatar calgal007 12:13 PM 06-14-2003
I agree with the above posting - seniors with dementia often behave in a way that appears weird, when all they're doing is trying to orient themselves.
The old man who yelled "Boo!" at the tantrumming (?) child, however, may be a different story. . .
And it's good to remember that seniors are coming from a perspective that has kids pitching fits w-a-y in the past for them, and one day it will be w-a-y in the past for all of us. Time has a way of shaping a person's perspective. When you're still in the trenches with toddlers, you have a different view of the world than people who don't have toddlers.
2much2luv's Avatar 2much2luv 02:25 PM 06-14-2003
O man! I hate this. DD Serra is so sensitive and shy. One time at the park she fell down and scraped her knee, nothing too serious. Well this dang woman kept talking to her "Are you ok?" "Poor baby" blah blah blah and Serra was burying her face in my lap crying harder and harder cause this freak was looking at her and talking to her. I was like "She's fine shes' fine" I am too timid to be rude. Finally she left and Serra calmed down immediately. I just don't get people. I never talk to another person's child unless they talk to me. What are people thinking. :
geekmom's Avatar geekmom 08:23 PM 06-14-2003
My kids don't have tantrums much, but it drives me nuts when people interfere in my communications iwth my kids. Now, I can understand interfering when there's hitting or yelling or whatever going on, but people usually interfere when i'm not doing what they want me to do.

Today I was in one of those big warehouse stores with my 3 little ones. My 5 year old is finishing up his last week of the preschool he's been in for TWO years and preparing for Kindergarten. He's a bit more difficult than usual for these reasons. Doesn't bother me much. I don't get annoyed by defiance or oppositionalness. I tend to ignore it and let him learn his own lessons.

Anyway, today he was sitting on the edge of the shopping cart. He certainly could have fallen off, but he was up against product and wouldn't have done much more than scrape himself. If I asked him to not sit there he'd have found another way to be oppositional. Two people told him directly to get off. I was standing right there. I told them I'm taking care of it. When the second one said it I actaully explained that if he fell he'd learn on his own that it was dangerous and that would be a more integrated lesson than if I nagged him.

I know it bothers me because of the subtle message that I wasn't being a vigilant enough parent. What I did appreciate is that my toddlers were next to each other in the front of the cart and bothering each other and getting antsy. I was playing with them, but then when I had to talk to the pharmacist a nice lady played peek a book with them. That was actually helpful and not annoying.
2much2luv's Avatar 2much2luv 10:17 PM 06-15-2003
My dh had an interesting story when I told him about this thread. The other day he was alone in the eating area with dd, 17 months, while I was in the bathroom with the other dd. Well, dd was sitting up on the table with the food, right in front of dh. This worker came by and started shifting our stuff to the middle of the table. She moved the food "Excuse me," said dh She moved the cup "Excuse me ma'am" Said dh louder. Then she scoots dd over. My dh yelled at her because she was ignoring him and asked her what she was doing. "Uh, she was gonna fall off" OMG. I am so glad I wasn't there because i would have been so ticked. He yelled at her to not touch our child and blah blah blah. Touching someone elses child is just going way too far!
Xenogenesis's Avatar Xenogenesis 10:46 PM 06-15-2003
Dear khrisday - my son (now twenty) also threw temper tantrums at the age of seven (and wayyyyy beyond). I understand.
DreamerMama's Avatar DreamerMama 01:06 AM 06-16-2003
I have only interupted a tantrum once. It was a four year old little girl my daughter was friends with. Her mother came over to pick her up and she started a holy crap tantrum with legs and all. Her mother was handeling it by reasoning with her. I got annoyed and suddenly I said (in my best mom voice) "Rachel, do you want to come back to my house?" She stopped, and said yes. "Then you have to stop and go with your mother today." She actually stoped crying put on her shoes and left smiling and saying she would come back.

I had said it on impulse, without really thinking about it. I have always carried a little guilt about this. I have wondered what her mother must have thought of me : They moved away a couple of months later so I never did talk about it with her.

I have an open mouth insert foot problem on occasion.