5 Tips – Advice From Strangers During Meltdowns

I absolutely love being a dad and having a family, and I especially love taking them RVing! This week, we had the ultimate test by taking a three week old infant and a three year old toddler RVing to the Okanaghan. Lucky for us, both kids are very well behaved and travel well. Our youngest slept the entire time the RV was in motion and our daughter kept herself busy by asking us lots of questions about everything she was seeing out of the windows.

Our real test began when we stopped at a Walmart to pick up some supplies. Nothing can prepare a parent for one child having a public meltdown, but two… that was a real experience! Our toddler decided that she wanted to walk, and after being almost run over several times by other crazy shoppers, I asked her to sit in the shopping cart. That didn’t go over well, and she started to proceed with operation “Embarrass my parents until I get what I want”. We’ve learned in the past that we shouldn’t just give in or threaten to punish without actually following through, so we tried to talk to her about why she needed to be in the cart. As I am having this conversation, our three week old starts to wail as if we were torturing him. You know… that cry and look they get when getting their shots.

My wife is trying to calm him down, but he continues and we now have two screaming children with plenty of onlookers staring at us as if they were in the middle of watching a train wreck. Although there was a lot of noise, we did have everything under control and returning to normal when a women approaches my wife and says “Oh dear, I can hear him from all the way on the other end of the store, he’s probably hungry, you should probably feed him.”. Really? Thanks! We never thought of that. Wow… If we only knew that a couple of weeks ago than maybe he wouldn’t have been crying all day and all night. Haha. Don’t worry, we didn’t say anything like that to her, but the temptation was really there! I know that she was trying to be helpful and meant well, but my wife had just fed him before we went into the store. He is just a fussy baby and we just need to do our best to try to figure out what he wants, and at that particular moment, it wasn’t food.

The embarrassment of public opinion and having people offer advice in one of your most trying moments doesn’t really help the situation. Imagine pilots that are dealing with an emergency, and passengers yelling at them… “Have you tried the e-brake?” “What about changing gears?”. Everything is under control ladies and gentlemen… Just let the pilots concentrate to get to a positive outcome as quickly as possible – and by the way, there aren’t any e-brakes or gears to change while flying a plane. I only say this to illustrate that every child is different, and I probably know my children better than you, just like a pilot would know how to fly a plane better than I would. I certainly won’t be giving a pilot advice! The more people kept staring and talking to us, the longer it was taking to calm our two kids down and the more stressed out we became.

We finally retreated to a quiet aisle, and managed to quickly calm our children down without interruption.

Here are my 5 tipsĀ on dealing with advice from strangers during meltdowns;

  1. Stay calm and keep a smile on your face.
  2. It doesn’t matter what others think, so focus on your children.
  3. Retreat to a quiet section of the store where there are little or no people.
  4. If people offer advice, remember that they mean well and are only trying to help. Keep cool, smile, and simply say “thank you” to end the conversation quickly and return your attention back to your children.
  5. There are probably not as many people staring at you as you think. Yes, people are looking, but they are probably saying in their heads… “Haha… Been there, done that!”.

All-in-all, it wasn’t really that bad an experience, and the rest of our vacation went amazingly well! I’ll see if I can remember and apply what we’ve learnt the next time this happens. Haha…

Have you had a similar experience? Please comment on this post or send me a tweet to let me know what you do in these types of situations. I would love to hear your ideas and tips, so please share!

Author: Mike Granek

Michael Granek, MBA,CSEP,PID is a successful entrepreneur and an award winning event producer with two decades of experience in the special events and entertainment industry as well as in business. After selling his business and working for a large corporation, Mike decided to shift focus to spending more time with his kids and learning how to be the best dad he can be with his three children. For a complete bio, please visit: www.granek.com

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