Regardless of what some (childless) people believe, parents only have so much control over their kid’s behavior. Tantrums and public meltdowns aren’t necessarily the result of poor parenting — they’re just the result of kids acting like the small, half-formed adults that they are.
Actress Kristen Bell has two kids of her own, and she says she actually has a very zen way to deal with her children’s spontaneous bouts of unpleasantness (like crying over not being able to have a candy bar at the grocery store). She says it’s simple: don’t let yourself feel responsible for the embarrassment.
“If my child is acting a fool in the grocery store, the embarrassment is on her,” Bell tells Babble. “In truth, that shouldn’t make me feel a certain way.”
“She’s going to act the way a child acts,” Bell continues, “and I’m not going to let that reflect on me or bring me down. That shouldn’t make me feel ashamed or embarrassed in any way. Only you can make you feel a certain way.”
Bell says that this philosophy actually applies to most of life’s unpleasantness.
“How I feel about situations is up to me and it’s exhausting sometimes to hear so many people say, ‘How can I feel better about this?’” she notes. “Feel better about it. That’s the answer. That’s not to put down feelings. Feeling exist, they are important. They deserve to be felt and processed and then you make your choice after you’ve processed the feeling. Once the negative feeling starts to own you, it’s on you to put it in the trash and let it go. You are the only person that has the power to change your feelings.”
Which makes sense, but is also sort of mind-blowing. What if you just … decided to feel happy instead of feeling like crap? Is that allowed? Can you do that? Apparently so. Either that, or Kristen Bell is some sort of magical Feelings Wizard.
But keep that in mind the next time your kid is going into nuclear meltdown mode. At a certain point, their childish tantrums can’t be controlled by your desperate reasoning, so why sweat the few glares you get from other adults?