Tantrums in the supermarket...

Joanne Te Paiho, June 2010

Tena Koutou. You are in the middle of your weekly grocery shopping, with your little ones in tow. You manage to make it to the check out, without too much fuss, and then it starts. "Can I have this bag of lollies?" and another voice is sounding off beside you "can I have this chocolate bar?" What do you do? Now one of your little people has started to perform the haka, right there in the middle of the aisle, because he is determined to have that chocolate bar. You give in to their demands. To avoid embarrassment you buy the chocolate bar and the lollies, end up feeling powerless, and your little ones have won, yet again. You have just been successful in teaching them that if they whinge and carry on long and loud enough, they will get what they want from you. If you are not able to manage this situation in a positive way from your children's young ages, these demands will get bigger and the tantrums may end up as physical violence towards you. Believe me, this does happen and it's no laughing matter for the parent or the young person involved. It may start with just the moaning and groaning at the supermarket, but it's not long before they get older and their demands are way greater then a chocolate bar. This behaviour is all around power and control. Part of a child's development is to learn about their own self power, but it's really important that there are boundaries and they don't use their power negatively.

So before you embark on your journey of the weekly shopping, it's important that you let your little people know what happens at the supermarket. You may have decided that they can get a treat, because they have been well behaved. Let them know when they will get this and what they can choose from. You may also have decided that you are not buying a treat this time and it is important that you communicate this to your young people before you go shopping. Pick the right time of the day for your little people, maybe when they have just got up from a sleep, or after a meal - preferably not when they are tired and hungry.

If you still experience a tantrum and lots of demanding behaviour, let your young person know that this is not acceptable and whatever you do, don't give in to their demands. Remain strong, don't worry about any onlookers, as every parent has had to experience this - nobody is looking down at you. Your children will be better for it and the tantrums will soon subside when they don't accomplish anything.

Lastly, the next time you are out shopping and you happen to see a parent with little people who are throwing tantrums, try and look the other way. Be more compassionate about the situation and remain mindful that this is a parent doing their best to practise some valuable effective parenting strategies which will have a positive impact in the lives of their little people.
Until next month, take care.

Nga Mihi