Saturday, January 21, 2012

Preventing stress in the supermarket isle...

"O Magazine. How to live your best life." A magazine title from a supermarket isle catches your eye. You leave your gaze hovering on the title for a moment until, in the cashier's line ahead of you, a child screams bloody murder from his grocery cart seat, "But I want it!!! NOO!" 
You witness the parent slapping the child out of blind frustration and your heart falls into your stomach while your body turns cold. The child is still not quiet. 
It's now your turn at the cashier's register and you stare at the duo as they leave out the door as a bawling caravan of neatly bagged goods. The bagger makes a comment on the incident "I would have given that child more than a swat. All this mushy parenting advice about 'don't hit your kid' is making so many delinquents these days."

I have been blessed to witness many of these events, mostly from behind the cash register itself. Which I am happily, no longer doing. Even so, I quickly learned to identify the warning signs as to when these situations where about to occur and stopped it before anything happened. I'll leave that for later...

The majority of the public are unaware that these situations never have to develop in the first place. It is actually quite possible to prevent a behavior from occurring, which is of course preferred. The human species seems to be obsessed with dealing out consequences for behavior instead of preventing these behaviors. Hindsight is 20/20, therefore I dub our species Homo hindsightedness (I know, poor setup).

Parents have ultimate control of preventing these kinds of problems, yet they are not aware of or empowered enough to implement these essential skills. Here is what Act Against Violence and Karen Pryor have to say about what parents can do to prevent tantrums in the isle:
1. Stressed and busy mothers find themselves shopping before dinner with their hungry children, this is prime time for tantrums. "Feed the kids before or while going to the market" Karen Pryor states as a preventative measure. 
2. Prepare kids for the checkout line. If you know your child will cause a ruckus in line let him know that he'll get a nice surprise if he can play the quiet game while your groceries are being checked out. Often times cashiers have coloring books and crayons to give just to the little ones to reward good behavior. 
3. Help children to develop an awareness of early signs of a temper tantrum. For example, say, "I see you are rocking in your chair now; what are you thinking?" With practice the child could learn to signal you when he notices that he is beginning to have a temper tantrum. Then help him with some of the above prevention strategies.
Tantrums happen. But they don't have to happen every time. Let's reduce unwanted behavior by preventing it rather than "correcting" it.
But what if it's not your child? I'll tell you what I do when it's me in the isle, in the next installment...

Copyright 2013 Caitlin Bird
The Sequential Psittacine Blog

Don't Shoot the Dog - Karen Pryor
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