Only once did I exit Toys R Us and actually enjoy my time spent there. Once. I had all four kids with me and our biggest boy had to use the restroom. Having the skill of knowing the exact location of every public restroom within a five-mile radius of our home is the mom talent for which I am quite proud.
There was a pay phone bolted to the wall between the bathrooms and when our boy was retuning to the shopping cart, he glanced at the pay phone and with shock, reached to grab the pile of money that was sitting on the ledge, forty dollars. We immediately reported the missing cash and no one claimed it. What joy. Toys for all! This was a good day at the toy store.
Most visits to the toy store involved screaming at children who were writhing in frustration because I wouldn’t pull out my wallet and throw money at them for unnecessary purchases. Most times, my youngest was rolling on the floor and I was dragging him out by his arm in full disgust to the rest of the consumers making purchases. Typically my visit would be littered with the words “not today” as we perused each aisle and each child would chatter on about why they needed something sitting stoically on the shelf waiting to be purchased.
One particular time, a woman who I knew, was horror-struck when I plucked our toddler from underneath the cart while he screamed and slugged me in the face. Every cashier had their fingers poised, ready to call social services while waiting for my reaction. It wasn’t pretty. Had any of the onlookers been mothers of toddlers, they would have watched with sympathy, and applauded my best efforts to not injure a child and the patience I exhibited by restraining from returning to the car leaving all children behind, which was tempting, and still is at times.
While there is truth to the fact that tantrums typically are a result of the selfish, narcissistic, innate make up of a child, tantrums can also be the result of hunger, agitation, loneliness, or fatigue. This proves true for all ages of children, and adults as well. I have been known to shed some ugly when I am hungry so I make a point to carry snacks and water to conceal any opposing foulness. I also carry snacks for our kids who also have a genetic propensity for hunger horror.
Look up the synonyms for the word agitation and it is no wonder that kids throw fits when this family of words is prevalent. Anxiety, worry, distress, nervousness, and all of their siblings are enough to make anyone throw a fit of rage. Finding out the reason for the agitation is part of the battle. When I am able to address the core issue, talking through the frustration before hand can often curb an outburst.
There is an unexplainable magnetic force that pulls words from a child’s mouth the minute I begin talking to an adult. When they aren’t getting my full attention they will do nearly anything to pull me away from meaningful adult conversation. A situation like this one hardly counts at their being lonely, but sitting in a shopping cart for 30 minutes without moving, or parents being gone or away for lengths of time can set off an emotional explosion.
In addition to my famish trauma, fatigue is my other archenemy. When I am tired I grab a caffeine-laden beverage to make the exhaust evaporate. If I am home, and can squeeze in a 15 minute power nap, life is good. Children need naps. One of our kids fought nap taking which resulted in a 45 minute routine to get them to fall asleep. It was worth every minute. Tantrums and tired are best friends.
Whether an outburst is a result of hunger, fatigue, agitation, or loneliness, knowing this can help any parent take steps to avoiding tantrums, however, there are no guarantees. Avoiding all toy stores is another safety precaution, unless of course you have gobs of money that you enjoy throwing away or can wear bubble wrap for protection from ensuing, angry, punches.