The Worst Part About My Toddler’s Public Temper Tantrum

I have to say that I’ve been VERY fortunate to not have to deal with a public temper tantrum for the entire 3 years since becoming a mom, until recently. To be honest, I’ve been dreading it because I don’t know how to react or how I would handle it. My daughter is really sweet and cheerful; and although she would sometimes cry in public, she would ALWAYS listen to whatever I told her. Things would never escalate to a temper tantrum. I guess she learned early on that when Mommy says no, there’s nothing she could do to change that. But, of course, my son is different. Although he is a happy and easygoing child,  he is also very strong-willed. When he says no, it would always be a challenge to get him to change his mind. And the same goes for when he wants something. And it was while I was out with him, when I got judged as a mother. He had a public meltdown; a full-blown temper tantrum that lasted for a while.

It happened in one of those seemingly normal afternoons, when my husband and I picked up the kids from the daycare. As soon as we entered my son’s room, he immediately told me that he wants to be carried; of course, I obliged. We spent around 10-15 minutes in his room talking to his teacher to find out how he did that day. And then we went to the playground to pick up my daughter. We spent another 10-15 minutes in the playground playing with my daughter while trying to find out from her teachers how she did that day. We then had to go back to my daughter’s room, on the other side of building, to get her jacket. At this point, my arms and back were already hurting since I’ve been carrying my son while we did all of these. I wanted to get the jacket as quickly as I could so I decided to leave my son outside the room, with my husband and my daughter, while I grabbed my daughter’s jacket. As soon as I went out of the room, my son told me he wants to be carried again. But since my arms and back were still hurting, and all we had to do was to get outside the building and walk to the parking lot, I told him that he has to walk. That’s when it happened, my son had a temper tantrum in public.

He sat on the floor, screaming while crying, and started kicking. I did what any parent would during the situation. I stood my ground so he’d know that he won’t get everything he wants just by crying. He would get up and walk a few steps, but then would go back to sitting on the floor kicking while screaming and crying. This went on for a while; and then one lady interfered. She looked at me like I’m the most horrible person in the world, and told me she was bothered because I wasn’t picking up my son and just letting him cry. And that really infuriated me! I managed to tell her to shut up because it was none of her business; before I focused my attention to my son again.

A few minutes later (but felt like eternity), I managed to get my son to our car and we went on our way home. After my son calmed down and I talked to him about what happened, I still couldn’t shake how that lady made me feel. And then it hit me, the worst part of a public temper tantrum isn’t the actual meltdown, it’s the part where you are being judged, by strangers, as a mom. Let me tell you why.

She Was Bothered Because I Wasn’t Picking Up My Son & Just Letting Him Cry

Who in their right mind would just let their child cry and not comfort them? Of course, it broke my heart seeing my son crying like that. I wanted so much to give in to what he wanted, hug him as tight as I could, carry him all the way to the parking lot, and just ignore the pain I’ve been feeling that afternoon. But if I do that, he’ll know that he’ll get anything he’d want just by crying. Not to mention that my daughter was watching too; so she’d also know that she can get away with anything just by crying, if I gave in.

It was really tough trying to do the right thing when all you want to do is the opposite. I knew in my heart, that if I stood my ground, it’s going to help how he (and she) reacts to things moving forward. And as a mom, that is worth standing my ground for.

She Interfered In One Of The Teaching Moments My Kids & I Have

She interfered while I was trying to teach my son a valuable lesson. She told me, in front of my kids, that she was bothered by how I was handling my son’s temper tantrum. Sure, my son probably didn’t hear her; but my daughter did. And what will that tell her? That what Mommy was doing was ALL WRONG! That I really should have just given in to what her brother wanted; but instead I was choosing to be firm and ignore his brother’s feelings. BUT THAT LADY WAS WRONG!

She Made Me Feel Like A Horrible Person

The moment she interfered with a disgusted look in her eyes, and said those words, I doubted myself; not just as a mom, but also as a person. All the while, I was confident that I was doing the right thing for my family; but all the confidence went out the door as soon as she entered the picture. And I felt like the most terrible person in the word.

Of course, I am not a perfect mom; I’m totally far from that. I’ve made a lot of wrong decisions in my life, and I did a lot of things I am not proud of; but those don’t necessarily make me a horrible person. I’ve recognized my mistakes and I’ve learned from them; and I always try to do the right thing moving forward.

She Only Saw A Glimpse Of Our Lives

Isn’t it just completely wrong to judge someone when you didn’t know the entire story? She didn’t know our story, what went on through our day, and what led us to that public meltdown. She didn’t know what it’s like to live my life, or our lives for that matter. She didn’t even know how I am as a mom, as a wife, as a friend, and as a person. All she saw was that few minutes when my son was having a public meltdown. And yet, she felt she had the right to judge how I was choosing to handle the situation?

She Simply Doesn’t Have The Right To Do That

No mom should ever feel like they’re a bad parent when all they’re trying to do is the right thing for their families. And we shouldn’t be explaining why we’re doing such things to anyone other than our husbands and our kids. No one has the right to question how we raise and discipline our kids, except our partners.

A Message To All The Judgemental People Out There

The next time you feel the urge to interfere with a mom handling her child’s public temper tantrum because you disagree with how she’s handling it, make yourself useful by letting the mom do her job and just walk away; and DO NOT aggravate the situation by telling her how she should discipline her child. Remember, it’s her child, not yours! And because unless your opinion is solicited, it won’t matter.

I do realize that this won’t be the last time I’ll be judged as a mom. But I will stand my ground each time. If how I raise and discipline my kids bothers strangers, then that doesn’t make that my problem. It’s theirs!

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Did your child ever throw a temper tantrum in public? Read on to find out what's the worst thing that could ever happen during temper tantrums. | temper tantrums toddler | temper tantrums in older children | public temper tantrums | public meltdown | mom problems | motherhood | parenting | motherhood problems | motherhood struggles | parenting struggles | parenting stress | motherhood stress

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  • Leah Jones

    Public temper tantrums are always a difficult situation to be put in! I’ve had people at the grocery store go get cookies from the bakery and give them to my crying child. I’m very non-confrontational so I just said “thanks” but would have loved to have been like you and tell her that “I’m trying to teach her that she can’t always have her way and a cookie is counterproductive.”

    • Oh my! That is just awful! Why do people feel like they can just interfere like that? I am so sorry you had to go through that.

  • Corey Wheeland

    When temper tantrums happen in public it’s so hard. Whenever that happened with my daughter, I always tried to get to the root of the problem as quickly as I could. This usually helped me communicate with her better and stopped the tantrum in its tracks. When I got worked up, too, was when it always got worse!

  • Ryan Sneltzer

    We just experienced this the other day at IKEA. It is always a tricky situation for sure!

  • Kari Chalene

    I’m so glad you stood up for yourself! That lady was horrible.. you’re a great mama!

  • I am glad you were able to say something. As a person who doesn’t have children and have watched children melt down. I really struggle with this, but I have never said anything to the parent. I figure if it’s bothering me it sure as hell is bothering the parents 10x more.

    • Thank you! Of course, it bothers us but it’s going to help them later on in life if we stand our ground rather than just give in. It’s so easy to just give in just so our child would stop crying though.

  • Kristina Paché

    Children have melt downs and tantrums. That’s how the express their emotions until they get older and learn to use their words. I just ignore people who stare when my child has one and quickly hurry to leave.

    • Yeah, that would have been a great tactic. If she just stared at us, I would ignore her. But since she said something, I had to say something to her as well.

  • Yolanda

    I always feel for the parents when I see a temper tantrum happen. It’s something that happens to all of us. Even me as someone who doesn’t have my own bio kids, my oldest stepson has had serious tantrums in public when he was younger and it’s SO hard. It catches you off guard and all you want to do is come up with a solutions and fast!!

  • You did exactly the right thing, and I’m so sorry that you had to deal with that lady when you were already in a tough position. I know how hard it is to drag a protesting toddler along! But it’s not unreasonable to ask a 3 year old to walk from the classroom to the car and that was the perfect time to stand firm and stop that expectation in its tracks. Way to go, Mama!

  • The judging eyes of strangers can be very uncomfortable. I am sad to hear of these types of situations.

  • Nita Okoye

    My neighbor can’t even go out because her child is always throwing tantrums which makes me really feel bad for her, but i personally believe that if are just a little bit patient this stage will be outgrown.

  • I totally understand and have been there!

  • Ruthie Ridley

    I love your openness and perspective. You are an amazing mum!! XO

  • I’m ashamed to admit, but I used to be on the side where I judged the mom when the kid had a tantrum, but that was back when I was a teenager and didn’t really understand kids, but even then I didn’t have the guts to say anything to the parent. I have no idea how people can just go up to a complete stranger and complain to their face! However, now that I’m older and have a daughter of my own, I totally get it and I feel for the parents who have to deal with public melt downs. I have no idea what I would do if I was in your shoes. I’m a shy person, so someone coming up to me, would probably scare me and cause me to panic more.

    • I am a shy person too. But having kids brought me a whole new level of things I didn’t know I could have, especially courage. 🙂

  • Helene Dsouza

    Ought that lady should have kept her thoughts to herself, so very unhelpful. That of course destroys some authority. I don’t have kids but my niece has tantrums. I would be old fashioned and try to get away from public asap.

  • I have lived through plenty of toddler temper tantrums and am sorry you experienced this. As well-meaning as some people are, they are not raising my child and ultimately do not get a say in how I choose to handle tough situations. There is always plenty of parenting advice to go around, but only you know what’s best for your children. So I say, take it with a grain of salt, a bit of grace and move on with your child. You did great, mom!

    • That is so true! There’s no one else who knows what’s best for our kids and our family except us.

  • Robin Rue

    I have THAT child that would melt down anywhere and everywhere. I know I got judged for it, so I would never judge anyone else for something like that.

  • Cassie Trin

    Thankfully we haven’t had a tantrum yet, and like you I’m not sure how I’ll handle it but I hope that I will be able to stand my ground to teach my child the lessons they need to learn….no matter who’s watching, or what looks I get. Thanks for sharing.

  • Kimberly Oxford

    Oh man! Luckily no one has ever said anything to me “yet”. I do the same thing. You’re doing great mama and it’s no one’s business how you parent!

  • Wow sorry that happened to you! It’s unfortunate that she interfered with a teachable moment.

    • Right? That’s a teachable moment! And I hate how she interfered just like that!

  • Cecil

    I personally think that just because your child has a tantrum in public, you should act differently because of appearances. I agree with how you handled the situation, even with the meddling outsider. Keep doing what you are doing, parenting is a family matter and no one else’s business.

    • I agree! At home or in public, you should be consistent. Or else, your child will get that you will act differently when you’re outside and might take advantage of it.

  • Ugh, so frustrating! I’m not a mom yet, but I nannied for 4 years and totally understand the judgement and stares. Love your perspective!

  • Luz Tijerina

    To be honest, I do not know what my reaction to that lady would have been. Part of me feels that I would have not been calm and I would have just yelled at her to f*&^* off. I also feel that I may have been so embarrassed I would have just smiled and nodded.

    • Oh believe me! Once you’re in there, you’re going to discover a whole new side of yourself you didn’t know exist. LOL

  • Emily Bendler

    I’m so glad you stood your ground. That lady really needs to mind her own business!!

  • There are really people who think they’re better parents. I hate how other people judge other people’s parenting when in fact what we’re doing is for our family. This is something I’m scared because we know how nosey people are and sometimes we don’t realize it but they might be already talking about us behind our backs ON SOCIAL MEDIA!

    I’ll share an experience wherein we were at a fastfood. The husband was at the counter so it was just me, my toddler, and my baby at the table. I carried the baby because he was sleeping and gave my toddler my phone so that she’ll just sit there (screen time helps if you want them to stay put hihi). Another baby was crying but I didn’t mind (some things became normal once you become a mom). But then I noticed these two girls from another table giving me that judgmental look. They probably think it was my baby crying (they didn’t know baby is asleep) or maybe they’re judging me for giving a phone to my toddler. Idk but I just hate it when I’m given that look like I’m such a horrible mom ugh

    • Oh wow! So sorry you had to go through that! Why can’t people just be supportive and understanding?

  • Hugs mama! I know exactly how this is! I have four and tantrums have varied between each one. My two younger ones seem to be on the extreme end. I remember being in the grocery store and having people look at me like I was the worst parent when my oldest who is now 13 would have a tantrum. But now I just don’t care.

    • Yeah, I guess once it happens to you a lot, you just start to not care. Thanks for sharing your story!

  • So sorry you had to deal with this situation! It’s bad enough when your kids are throwing temper tantrums in public, but having some random person try to judge you and tell you you’re doing something wrong is horrible. Good for you for standing your ground though and I think you reacted more politely than I would have lol.

  • Ann

    I know how you feel lady, I had an acquaintance who think they are better parents than us. But I told my husband that is good that they think that way, however the action speak louder than your words though. Sorry you had to deal with this kind of situation. It’s aggravating but sometimes we have to just take a deep breath and tell our-self that no one can ever tell me how to be a parent.

    • Oh wow! So sorry you have to deal with that! Yes, absolutely true! No one knows what’s best for our kids and family except us.

  • Mary Abbott

    Love your honesty! Thanks for sharing

  • People need to learn to mind their own business. It can be hard when you see kids acting up or screaming and the parents aren’t doing anything. But in reality the reason they are ignoring their children is because they aren’t giving into what their kid wants, which is attention. The best thing onlookers can do is keep their opinions to themselves.

  • It’s a shame we can’t give our opinions to adults who are acting like jerks. It sure seems they like to share their thoughts on your child rearing. I say good for you for telling that lady to shut up. I bet she was thrown aback, which is kind of funny.

  • Aw! This is such s good post and you make a lot of valid points.

    Liz
    http://Www.lizzieinlace.com

  • It seems to be a sad fact of life that strangers and /or those with NO parenting experience feel they have the right to “correct” parents in how they deal with their own children and even how to handle family issues that truly are NONE of their business. My daughter, who is now a mother of 3 girls (ages 9 months, 3 years, and 5 years old), often encounters these kinds of intrusive people. She and my son-in-law have these 3 and plan to have more children. So they get comments asking if the third baby was a mistake / surprise, or “Isn’t that enough now?” My oldest granddaughter has sensory processing disorder, and she often has the kind of meltdown you described. My daughter likewise gets the disapproving looks and comments at times about how she should or should not be dealing with the situation. 🙁

  • Meredith

    Ugghhhhh I’m sorry that this happened!! It amazes me that we still can’t stand up for each other as parents, and comfort each other instead of tearing each other apart 🙁

  • Nailil Ivaldi

    Oh no. And as if parenting isn’t hard enough. It is so hard when the little ones throw tantrums. I has happened to me with my second daughter. 🙁

  • Tamara Goyette

    I feel like I worry even more about these moments now because people film everything too on their phones. While it isn’t their place and they shoudnt be filming or taking photos of someone else, especially children. It freaks me right out.

    • Yeah, you are right! I would have probably freaked out more if I saw someone was filming me. LOL

  • Julie Hoag

    I agree, people don’t know the whole story of the day or of the child so they shouldn’t comment. She should not have judged or spoke out about it in front of your children. That was a bad move on her part and she should know better being a parent herself. So sad people feel they have to chime in in something like this. We need support not shaming.

  • The problem is if you relented your son doesn’t learn that YOU are in charge. Parent YOUR way. Don’t give into peer pressure, especially those that stick their noses into others business.

  • Becca Wilson

    Temper tantrums when they are out in public can be the worst. You want to just give in because they are making a scene but you can’t.

  • Yeah, she probably hasn’t. Thank you!

  • Thank you!

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