Be willing to “turn the car around”. Kids need to know your threats are real.
This started for me when I was much younger. I used to hear moms in the grocery store yelling at their toddlers as they struggled to finish their shopping. “Mommy’s getting very angry at you…” she’d say as she reached for the Jiffy peanut butter. The kids of course never really believed her and carried on with their tantrum. This dance plays itself out all over America and on every day. You see kids at Disneyland, Comerica Park, Grandma’s house, and everywhere in between yelling, screaming and generally behaving badly. It’s as if they know instinctively that we parents have invested so much time, energy and money into going wherever we happen to be going today, that we won’t really turn the car around and go home.
Yes we will.
We have to be willing to end our day, our vacation, our Thanksgiving dinner or whatever plans we may have had from the most trivial run to the grocery store to an airplane trip to California, we must be willing to turn that car around. Why? Because the kids must become certain that you’re willing to do so. They must become familiar with the notion that, if they behave this way we get to go to great places and see fun people. If they behave that way, we simply go home because we are not ready to be out in public.
With five kids I understand that actually following through with this can be painful, expensive and embarrassing. But usually it’s only once. And it sure beats a lifetime of kids who don’t believe you when you start speaking.