Archive for Saturday, February 14, 2009

Setting boundaries

February 14, 2009


To the editor:

Children screaming in a store represent the universal parenting challenge: Who’s in charge. All shoppers find screaming irritating. But, we’ve all been there, so have some sympathy for parents. They have the most important job in the world. And it’s not easy!

Parenting must often take precedence over doing what you want or need to do. It might mean you don’t get to finish your shopping.

I still have vivid memories of carrying a child out of a store, hands gripped like a vise to a tricycle he couldn’t have, screaming bloody murder. I could barely pry his fingers off the handlebars. Try carrying a kicking 3-year-old and a tricycle with a smile on your face!

On one shopping trip, the Screamer started screaming 10 feet from our car. You know, those memory-makers when you pick them up from the ground and can barely hold them with all their writhing! It took three attempts of returning to the car to gain compliance from the Screamer.

The psychologist had taught us the importance of teaching clear boundaries. Thus, I have left a full cart of groceries in the juice aisle and walked out, screaming child in tow, as the entire store erupted into applause. Sometimes we sat in the car for a few minutes; sometimes we had to go home.

Why? Giving your child boundaries helps them feel safe and to learn self-control.

One final note. The Screamer had the world’s largest Hot Wheel collection. Why?

“If you’ll be a good shopper today, you can get a Hot Wheel!”

Karen Anderson,


mom_of_three 9 years, 3 months ago

And if I had to leave a cart of groceries in the store for a child that was crying, we wouldn't eat that night. Every person has a different example. Mine probably threw a fit once out of 25 times out to the store, but I couldn't leave. There was no one to watch the kids, and I needed those items in the cart to feed the crying kid.
Yes, you need to set boundaries, but every once in a while, a crying kid is just a crying kid. The world goes on.

John Hamm 9 years, 3 months ago

One can always leave the cart in the store after informing an employee they were returning after the child settled down. That option seems to evade most people.

Confrontation 9 years, 3 months ago

So, bribing your brat with hot wheels didn't work. He came to expect something from each trip. How is that teaching anything? No wonder he wanted the tricycle.

ayres 9 years, 3 months ago

Those with negative comments re. the hot wheel cars have never heard of artistic license and obviously missed the entire point of the letter. No parent can be perfect every hour of the day. Some days you have to "choose your battles." But, if you at least establish boundaries when a child is young, studies will likely show that children are less likely to grow up into adults who are driven to write sarcastic or nasty comments anonymously.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 9 years, 3 months ago

A good spanking certainly never hurt me, except at the time, and it clearly set boundaries. So take him home and spank him, he will thank you for it later. Thank you, Lynn

womanwarrior 9 years, 3 months ago

Teaching your kid to behave or they will get hurt, or teaching your kid to behave and they will be rewarded. I guess either one might work, but I'd like to think that kids learn to behave, because there are good consequences. Of course, when you don't behave their are bad consequences too. Nobody is perfect, but others need to have a little patience too.

WhiteDog 9 years, 3 months ago

Ahhh, I was wondering when spanking would come into the discussion.

I'll never understand why it's reprehensible for a 180 lb man to hit a 150 lb woman if she doesn't behave, but it's perfectly acceptable for that same 180 lb man to hit a 30 lb child if s/he doesn't behave.

One of my kids never ever wanted to leave our house when he was small. Taking him out of a store would have been a wonderful reward for him. If I'd done that, he would have made a point to behave like a howler monkey on crack every time we needed groceries just to be able to sit in the car.

Instead of dragging around the howler monkey (or beating him), I found ways to engage and involve him in the errand. Knowing ahead of time what to expect ("we're buying NO toys today, just groceries"), knowing how he was to behave ("begging for a toy/snack/whatever is not acceptable and will not work"), having a task to accomplish ("your job is to help me pick the cereal and the apples"), and knowing that there was a good thing at the end ("if we get done in good time, we can get a cookie from the bakery") and I think my son had all of maybe 2 tantrums in a store in his life.

His kindergarten teacher has repeatedly told me that he's one of the best behaved kids she's every had. And I'm pretty sure that someday he will thank me for never having hit him. I've certainly never thanked mine for having hit me.

1wetwilly 9 years, 3 months ago

In many cases, the screaming kids are not the problem; irresponsible parents are the problem.

Those parents blame others for their circumstances. They say, "my child can't function because the school, because the state, because the government does not provide for their child."

In many cases, their child can't function in society because they were too irresponsible to correct misconduct when their child was young.

WhiteDog 9 years, 3 months ago

No thanks, Tom. I'm way too worried that I might raise a child who might turn out like you.

Strontius 9 years, 3 months ago

"And sorry to you Dr. Spock, Mr. Rodgers adoring parents, a few good swats on that little crum-snatchers ass and a vein-bulging, eyes-popping, guttural scream about 2 inches right back into their faces will “develop” a child just fine."

Who's the child in this circumstance, because honestly I can't tell the difference. A small child starts screaming and crying, and you think you've the right to lose your temper? What sort of example are you setting? Yell and impose your superior physical force because you can? Yeah, that has always had good results. All you do is plant the seeds for future problems. Your previously screaming child then becomes a bully or just plain rebels against you later. And then of course, you blame society for your child's issues. Video games are too violent, teachers aren't doing their jobs, or the pornography industry is just too damned appealing. It's always someone else's fault when your child grows up and hates his parents because they never learned how to be adults themselves.

I feel sorry for any children that come from you. Your physical assault on them just creates the next generation of violent offenders.

Linda Endicott 9 years, 3 months ago

What in the world is wrong with some of you people?

Spanking a child is not the same as beating them, though some of you misguided souls seem to think so...A spanking is not abuse, though I agree you should never do it in public, as there are far too many do-gooders out there who just salivate with glee at the thought of turning someone in...

I was spanked as a child, and I can say it never damaged me physically nor emotionally...I received far fewer spankings than I think I deserved...and a couple swats on the butt was not a beating, thank you...and I WILL thank my mother here for having the insight to correct me when I needed it...though in the era I grew up, no one batted an eye if a child got spanked in a store...

I was spanked, and I grew up to be a person who has respect for others and the property of others...things that far too many children now do not have...

Gee...come to think of it, I watched Warner Bros. cartoons all the time while growing up...and I never once had the urge to jump out a window or throw an anvil on someone...because I knew they weren't reality...duhhh...

rtwngr 9 years, 3 months ago

I have found that refusing to negotiate with my children was very effective. No always meant no. I never bribed them to elicit good behavior. They received quick and meaningful punishment immediately for bad behavior. Sometimes it meant spanking and sometimes not. By the time my children were 4 years of age they were well behaved wherever we went in public. They would even sit through church services without having to have a toy to "keep their hands busy". Best of all they have grown into great adults, great parents, and never negotiate with their children. Never negotiate with a child!

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