Highest Court in the House

Everyone is talking about who will be next on the United States Supreme Court. Today let’s talk about your household’s Supreme Court…you and your partner.

I was standing in line at the grocery store the other day and this two-foot-tall kid came barreling through, not just my line but all the lines at all the other checkout counters. Most people looked at him with exasperation. A few smiled. (I will never understand people who think this kind of behavior is cute.) His mother called after him weakly. Heads swerved to look at her…judgmentally.

Bad mother, right? Too lenient. Not in control. We’ve all heard the advice before. You can reason with your child, let her make her case, maybe even make a concession if it seems reasoned. But if all this fails, No means No! You are the highest court in your household.

Rules are great, right? The theory behind them is rock solid. It’s the execution that can get a little dicey. And the toughest of all situations are those that occur outside the house — the super market meltdown, the sit-on-the-sidewalk, refusal-to-walk kind of battle – where it seems like the whole world is watching and judging YOU!

Here are a few tips from my many years of experience:

  • Describe the outing to your child before you leave the house. This does not mean map out every step. Keep it simple, be clear. It helps everyone, even little kids, to have the basic plan in their heads.
  • Anticipate potential weak points in the outing for your child. If you are going grocery shopping, feed them before you roll the cart past the candy. Pet peeve: The candy rack sits right next to the checkout. You AND your kid get a good 5 minutes staring it down. Let’s be real. Sometimes you feel like reaching for the Snickers just as much as your child does.
  • Build in some fun. If you have the time, include a stop at the park or the children’s section at the bookstore. If you don’t have extra time, sing songs or tell jokes or just make funny faces along the way. Maybe some passersby will give you a dirty look or roll their eyes. OK, a little embarrassing, especially if your singing voice is like mine. But it beats the look you get when your kid has a meltdown. Oh yeah.
  • Anticipate the meltdown and take a break. If your kid is getting fussy or loud and wild, or is giving you pushback on your funny faces and singing, try to build in a quiet break. If possible, stop home for some rest. For both of you.
  • If all else fails and the meltdown occurs, stop and remove your child (and yourself) from the situation. He will eventually calm down. So will you. Your grocery cart will still be there when you get back.

Is it easy? Sometimes, sometimes not. Does it always work? Nope. But regardless of what happens, always remember… you’re the boss, boss.

Share your favorite meltdown stories.

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