How to Deal With the Grocery Store Freak-Out

K. Emily Bond

tantrumRemember the condom commercial that made the rounds a few years ago? Yeah, well. Some of us weren't parents yet.

For me, this commercial was quite "funny ha ha!" at the time, but it has since taken on a distinct wildlife documentary quality.

Thankfully my son and I have not had our meltdown in aisle three moment next to the Capri-Sun, but I know it's coming.

Forever preparing for the worst, I've sourced a few survival tips from some of the biggest names in the parenting aisle of your local Barnes & Noble.


happiest toddler on the block harvey karpThe Caveman Diet

In The Happiest Toddler on the Block, Dr. Harvey Karp suggests, "It helps to think of your toddler as sort of a caveman."

True. Their grunting and grabbing is all a bit primitive.

"To communicate with them, you have to speak in a primitive and almost prehistoric type of language -- Toddler-ese -- with lots of gestures. It needs to be as energetic and dramatic as the child is being." During an in-store freak-out, this can be achieved by aping short repetitive phrases and pointing with the vigor of a chimpanzee.


Mary Harmon WeeksThe Victorian Approach

In 1914, Mary Harmon Weeks wrote, "While [your child] is absent in his tantrum, let some nice little thing occur, so he may experience a loss, and say how sorry you are that he had not controlled himself sooner that he might have been there. Perhaps it might be the eating of an orange or some other dainty that he likes ... Never let his outbreak get him what he wanted."

A bit passive-aggressive for me, though he does like his dainties (I guess).


Tori Spelling toddler tantrum adviceTori Spelling Style

I'm not at all surprised that Donna Martin has grown up to become one of the country's most sought-after parenting experts. I'm just shocked that Tori Spelling is the actress that plays her. Nevertheless, she does dole out some sensible advice when it comes to public meltdowns.

In her bestseller Mommywood, she recounts how she diffused a red carpet meltdown by diverting attention away from the fit at hand with a Tara Reid joke. C'mon, Tori -- that's an easy out!

When a photographer looked at her as if to ask, "Seriously?" she admitted, "No, I'm just trying to make light of the fact that my son is having a tantrum on the red carpet, you're taking pictures, and I'm completely embarrassed." She and Dean let the tantrum run its course and it was gone.

That's a refreshing attitude. If people want to judge you in the check-out lane, who really cares? You're not going to end up in the tabloids unless you lose it, too. In which case, this next one's for you.


scream free parentingRemain Calm, Cool, and "Scream Free"

Full disclosure, I am the one who had a meltdown today. I'd planned my entire morning around getting my son Ezra down for a healthy two-hour nap so I could get some work done when -- woof, woof -- the dog pounced on him and woke him up. I was tired, preoccupied, and ravenously hungry. I flipped out and blamed Coco for everything that's ever gone wrong in my life.

My son (and the dog) looked at me like I was out of my mind, and I was.

As Hal Runkel writes in his book, Screamfree Parenting: The Revolutionary Approach to Raising Your Kids by Keeping Your Cool, "Our biggest struggle as parents is with our own emotional reactivity ... let's concentrate on what we can control -- calming our emotional, knee-jerk reactions."

After all, Fruity Pebbles and Coco Puffs will always be there to push our children's emotional limits. Our job is to model good behavior even when the rainbow of flavor comes crashing in.


Image via ryancboren/Flickr

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