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Ben had a dentist appointment today. Confession: We are awful teeth parents. So this appointment was not a regular check up. It was for two fillings after having a tooth extraction last month. He did awesome at the extraction, but I think this time he knew what was coming and therefore was afraid. Or Mommy was with him and he really wanted Daddy. Or maybe some of both. He basically screamed the whole time and only one filling got done. The dentist was getting frustrated and I was worrying about Ben and the dentist and the other kids in the office and Ben.
Kids have meltdowns sometimes. They worry about stuff and have bad days because they are sick or tired. I doubt that there is a mother alive who had not experienced a meltdown. Some days those meltdowns happen at home, but more often than not they happen in public. Then what do you do?
Personally, I am always torn. Ben needs to know how to behave in public even on bad days. However he also needs to know how to work out stressful stuff. So I can't simply tell him to hush or else. I don't want to tell him that either. That isn't a healthy response to stress. He can't just bury it and go on about life. So he needs some comforting and some talking. After that he might need to be told to hush and not wallow in it. I have to make sure my response to his meltdown is about him and not me. I can't respond out of embarrassment.
I don't call these times tantrums because these are responses to stress, sickness or fear. Tantrums are responses to not getting my way. Ben has those too and he gets disciplined for those. Tantrums and meltdowns are not the same. Every mother knows the difference between her child's tantrum and her child's meltdown. It does not make you a bad parent that your child has a meltdown. It does not mean there is something terribly wrong with your child. It just means your child is having a bad day. It happens to all of us, but children don't know how to deal with it. So as a parent, I need to help him deal with those. I am comfortable with this. What am I not comfortable with is what everyone else is thinking while I'm trying to help Ben through it. I don't worry about it to the point of abandoning one of my most cherished parenting beliefs. It is just a worry that bounces around my head. I doubt that other people really understand what I'm doing or appreciate that I am parenting good in that moment.
So if you see one of my children crying or maybe even acting out and I'm not disciplining them, now you know why.
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