Toddler Tantrums: Sorry Miss, you can’t cry here

Toddler tantrums

So today the story about the mum who was asked to leave John Lewis because of her tantruming toddler has caught my eye. First of all I thought oh man, that is going to happen to me one day and when it does I am going to cry, Greta has some epic meltdowns when she’s tired. But then I thought it’s ok though, they’ve apologised, it was just one crazy person acting out of line, everyone else will be morally outraged and probably even start being nicer to me when Greta is throwing a hissy fit in public, hurrah! But apparently not so, because twitter was full of people agreeing with the John Lewis worker. And I’m not entirely surprised to be honest because I’ve seen the looks and I’ve heard the tutting and I’ve been there pleading, begging her to stop, throwing sweets at her and promising her a pony if she will just be quiet so people will stop staring.

Happy toddler

In a moment of happiness, only made possible because I let her eat frozen blueberries

So, to those people with all of the judgement but none of the answers, can we just clear something up? Tantrums are normal. Toddlers don’t have tantrums becuase they are naughty, they don’t have tantrums because their parents can’t control them, and they don’t have tantrums because they really want to offend everyone in John Lewis. Toddlers have tantrums because they are toddlers. Tantrums are the biological norm for the under fours. Their brains haven’t yet developed to a stage where they can even begin to control their big emotions when they feel them. It’s not the parents fault, it’s not the child’s fault, it’s their immature pre-frontal cortex. So when you see a toddler having a tantrum, you don’t need to stare, you don’t need to ask what’s wrong with her, because my answer will 90% of the time be ‘I don’t bloody know, she’s 2’, you don’t need to say as one lady did to me in Aldi ‘They scream a lot these days don’t they?’ as if screaming toddlers are a new phenomenon. Next time you see a toddler having a tantrum you can just think oh look, there’s a child being a child, how developmentally normal.

Because as much as I do try to meet her every need and avoid anything that might set her off as much as I possibly can, eventually I’m going to have to pop out for some milk, and she’s going to want to get out of the buggy when I have my hands full, and if she’s tired, or hungry, or the sun’s in her eyes or the wind’s blowing in the wrong direction….. we’re going to be in full blown tantrum city quicker than you can say super nanny. And then what do I do about it? Well not a lot to be honest, what can I do? She wants to do something that she simply can’t do, she’s really upset about it, it’s sad but it’s not going to change anything. All I can do is empathise and wait for the storm to blow over, then hopefully she will accept my offered cuddles to make it all better. Because she needs to get it out, she’s frustrated and angry and stressed and she needs to express that the only way she knows how. It’s basically the toddler equivalent of a good old swear, and who hasn’t done that in John Lewis when you realise they’ve discontinued your dinner service? I could try and bribe or threaten her to suppress her emotions, but it wouldn’t do any good for her little developing brain and her future mental health. Except of course when I’m in the close confines of a shop or something similar and I feel the pressure and the judgement, and then against my better judgment, I do.

I know it’s annoying, I know it’s an awful sound, I appreciate you don’t like hearing it, neither do I. I hate tantrums as much as the next person and some days I hear nothing but that sound all day long. It’s draining I’m not going to lie. I just think we should stop pretending that all tantrums can be avoided or stopped, they can’t and they shouldn’t. Let’s stop making parents feel like their child’s tantrum is their fault, it’s not. Let’s stop treating kids like second class citizens who shouldn’t be out in public unless they can sit quietly, smile sweetly and basically act like an adult, they aren’t. Let’s all just practice a bit of empathy and laugh at the ridiculousness of a toddler throwing themselves on the floor because they’ve just noticed their socks are green.

Toddler tantrum

The 3 year old has her moments too….

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  1. March 9, 2016 / 2:10 pm

    Well said. Parents really can’t win. Those same people who give you the look for the tantrums would be the first to call you for spoiling your child if you gave in and bought them they toy/sweets/removed their coat or whatever else it was they wanted. I think the employee should be ashamed of themselves as should everyone agreeing with him/her.
    Random Musings recently posted…St Patrick’s Day Cocktail Recipe: Baby GuinnessMy Profile

    • Louise
      March 9, 2016 / 11:15 pm

      Thank you. You’re right you really can’t win with some people so mostly I just chose to ignore them. All we can do is concentrate on raising little people with the empathy they are clearly lacking!

  2. March 9, 2016 / 3:19 pm

    Spot on! I’m always amazed at the amount of people who don’t seem to understand that toddlers have tantrums and it’s a completely normal thing. I often get the ‘what’s wrong?’ comment when my little boy is having a tantrum – either I don’t know, or it’s because he’s not getting his way, and I’m not about to cave in and reward the tantrum!

    I was staggered when I read this news story yesterday, and even more amazed to read so many comments in support of the worker. It made me quite sad about people to be honest. God knows it’s worse for the parent than it is for the people around to witness the tantrum – they can just walk away if they want!

  3. March 9, 2016 / 10:00 pm

    Thank you! YES Tantrums are normal. They are uncomfortable, but are a normal part of their development. People are not patient if they don’t have kids of their own, speaking from my pre-mom years heh.
    Julie S. recently posted…Healthy Snacking for ToddlersMy Profile

    • Louise
      March 10, 2016 / 10:47 am

      Yes exactly, they all have to go through it, it’s an uncomfortable fact of life, like childbirth.

  4. Louise
    March 9, 2016 / 11:16 pm

    Haha exactly! If anything that mum needed sympathy and a hand with her shopping, not to be asked to leave! Thanks Katy x

  5. March 14, 2016 / 6:14 pm

    Exactly!! To date we have been lucky with tantrums outside of the house he’s only resorted once to laying on the floor in the middle of Tescos kicking and thumping the floor because I wouldnt let him buy any plastic eggs for easter last year. Thankfully Hubby was with me and we walked of (within reason obviously) and got lucky because he stopped. At home he chucks a mental if the cheese has been cut wrong… go figure! I hate that everyone has an opinion and its funny how people see to forget about raising their own kids! Thank you for joining us at #BloggerClubUK hope to see you again next week x
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    • Louise
      March 15, 2016 / 10:11 pm

      Oh that’s lucky, Greta doesn’t seem to mind causing a scene in public, she doesn’t care where she is, she just goes for it! I definitely think people seems to forget once their children are grown up, quite what the baby and toddler years are like. I promise I will not forget!

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