TODDLER PARENTING: BALANCING STRONG EMOTIONS IN PUBLIC AND RESPECTING OTHERS

As we start to venture out more into the world and enjoy a little bit more public places, albeit outdoors, we have experiences a strong emotion in a public place that is also being enjoyed by others. So how do we honour and respect the emotions of our toddler while still being polite and respecting others?

Above all else, I need to be realistic when it comes to outings. If the girls are hungry, close to a nap, or having a rough day–going out is a no-go as I know we have a recipe for tantrums and upset. There have been a few times we have rescheduled plans due to a missed nap or an off day. One of these times was when we have lunch plans with their Abuela on holiday. Was our time limited? Yes, but I want them to have quality time together, and having upset toddlers who missed a nap from being in a new place just wasn’t the best idea. We did do lunch another day and everyone had a wonderful time.

I will first try to talk to my child. Acknowledge their emotions, validate the way they are feeling, and then redirect when able.

If I’m unable to assist them in a few minutes, we remove ourselves. They have every right to their big feelings and I never want them to feel they don’t. That being said, there are more appropriate areas to discuss and work through them. At home, we have a calming area we retreat to that allows us to feel our emotions, deal with them in a healthy manner (often talking about them), and then recover and transition to leaving. This same can be done in other places–it’s often the restroom we remove ourselves to as it’s a quieter area and allows us privacy.

Others also have a right to public areas and deserve to enjoy themselves as well. I feel that giving my child a moment to express and compose themselves is completely acceptable. However, for more than a moment and I find it rude to others. So removing ourselves allows all of us to be respected.

Once we are ready, we return to our activity and carry on as if nothing has ever happened. There’s no guilt or shame in needing to take some time away to decompress, it’s actually healthy.

If we are just having an off day and peace can’t be found, we leave for home as this may be the underline cause for unhappiness. Sometimes you just want to be home among your familiar environment and materials. Are there times that I would prefer to stay? Of course! But, as a parent, I need to do what is best for my child and if that means leaving an outing early or avoiding certain places until a later time when they are a little older, that’s how it will be for the time being. That being said, we don’t always know what our children are capable of until we try it, so we always have a plan in place in case we do need to leave early.

*Tip: Outdoor spaces for the win!*

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