What Do You Do When The Big ‘M’ Happens In Public?

by Queenie on July 15, 2010

Image of QueenieI was in the mall the other day and I had a craving for some good ol’ Pinkberry. As I took my place in line, there was a family standing in front of me: mom, grandma and two boys. The older boy,we will call Braxton, was about 9 years old.  His body language and interest in the latest flavor illustrated his excitement about the family’s trip to get ice cream.  However, it was clear that the younger boy, who looked about 6 years old whom we will call Jacob, wasn’t thrilled by what seemed to him a ploy (Pinkberry).

In my 30 second observation, I noticed that he was looking outside the window and refused to move forward with the line.When his grandmother tried to figure out what was wrong with him, he shrugged his shoulders and pulled away from her. I thought the situation was akward, but I stepped forward to place my order.

As I  skipped out of PB, full of thrill cause I got my fix, I looked to the right and to my dismay what do I see? Jakob, sprawled on the floor, while his entire family is on the elevator calling for him to get on. Grandma shouted for Jacob to get on once more, but he didn’t move. His mother sent Braxton over to get him, but it was to no avail. He didn’t move. As mom held the elevator doors, grandma hurried over, picked Jacob up, and got on the elevator.About five minutes later as I was riding the elevator downstairs I noticed the same family, sitting at the tables eating and enjoying their ice cream. Everyone, that is, except for Jacob.

I looked left, no Jacob. I looked right, still no Jacob. I looked around the corner, and what did I see? I saw Mr. Jacob sitting on the floor with his arms folded, about 30 feet from his family.

At this point it was clear that he had an unresolved issue that occured right before the PB trip, and that he wasn’t interested in dealing with anyone except for his mother.

As I took my seat, I replayed the situation in my head and realized that the mother never interacted with Jacob.  “Hmmm,” I thought, “Isn’t this interesting-while Jacob is refusing to go along with the plan, Jacob’s mother is refusing to interact with him.”

Confusing? You might be asking, “What is wrong with her?” But she is not alone in here actions. Us adults tend to use this pull-power strategy all the time.

The truth is that it never really works for strong-willed children like Jacob. As she is pulling her power in one direction, Jacob is resisting and pulling in the other direction. Instead of dealing with the Big M (a meltdown), her actions, or lack of action, escalated the situation.

Next, week I will give a few different strategies that she could have used for Jacob, but first I want to know what you do when your child has a meltdown.

In other news, this mother didn’t yell, spank, or ignore. She threatened her daughter in an unconventional, yet disturbing manner. What do you think about this? Don’t forget to leave us some tips for handling meltdowns.


Queenie Lindsey is an academic coach and educational consultant. She is the founder of Tandem Teaching and Distinguished Learning Group, an academic coaching firm. Follow her on Twitter.


Melissa July 15, 2010 at 3:15 pm

This is one of the WEIRDEST things I’ve ever seen. I feel like this kiddo’s rights are being violated. How did you even find this? It’s so strange that we’ve gotten to a generation where they threaten to put kids up on youtube.

Heather July 15, 2010 at 7:07 pm

How can a mother violate her child’s right to privacy?? I think it is completely out of bounds to put this on youtube. We recently had a pretty horrible meltdown in the airport after coming home from a great trip. I would say that looking back on it. We could have handled it better Luca and I, that is. He was upset that I would not let him use my phone immediately exiting the plane and my “no” provoked a hit to the chest. Now fortunately this does not occur very often. I proceeded to talk with him about it but needed to hold his hands so I felt safe. He just decided to use another body part to communicate what he was saying. Being in the airport surrounded by noise, lights and tons of people was overwhelming. This situation did not work how it went. It might have been better to communicate no differently and continue walking not stop in the airport to talk. I also think that holding my son’s hands made him scared so he reacted bigger. All our children are so different no situation will be worked out the same way. Good subject to think about.. Thanks Queenie

Queenie July 16, 2010 at 12:14 am

Thanks for sharing your story Heather. I would definitely agree, when did we get to the point that it was okay to put your child on youtube crying? I’m actually wondering what the goal was? And, if the mother felt that she achieved it. I’m not judging her, but rather I’m trying to understand the thought process behind the decision. What does youtube really mean to a four year old, if its something negative, what does she even know about youtube at 4? I really want to know the answers to these questions. Truthfully, there are hundreds of videos on youtube that show kids having a Big M. I really want some insight. What do parents need in order to handle meltdowns more effectively?

I wish I could have supported Jacob’s family more- I hoped they worked it out when they got home.
Queenie´s last blog post ..What Do You Do When The Big ‘M’ Happens In Public

Melissa July 19, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Wow, Heather. Thanks for sharing that. Queenie and I were talking this weekend about how overwhelming it must be to be a parent whose child is having a meltdown in public. I’m really thankful that I got the chance to work with you and so many other parents who are so reflective when it comes to their parenting!