The great man is he who does not lose his child's heart. (Mencius, Chinese philosopher 372-289 BC)

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Screaming Child on Public Transport Dilemma

The perfect scene for a 4 year old tantrum
 Picture the scene.

A packed commuter train out of London. Not a seat left to be had. Rain teeming down outside. Passengers immersed in newspapers or electronic devices.

You join the train with your 4 year old.

You have just had a great day doing London's sights - Natural History Museum, 10 minutes on a double decker bus and then an additive packed tea at Burger King, Waterloo. It has been a memorable day.

But days like that come with small print. You are exhausted. You would like nothing better now than to sit on one of those occupied seats and fall asleep reading Metro's "Guilty Pleasures". But, a) there is nowhere to sit, b) 4 year old is wide awake and c) Since another kid pressed the "please let me off the bus" button on the double decker he has been in one of those moods. Nothing has been good enough.

The train is not blue. The Burger King meal toy was the wrong variety and he has just remembered that you said no to buying him the roaring dinosaur at the Natural History museum shop.

So, he kicks off. He complains about the colour of the train, he asks for another sweet and then when it becomes clear that you are not going to do anything to meet either of these perfectly reasonable demands he launches into a high pitched, peak volume tirade about how unfair everything is.

How do you respond?

I ask the question because this is the situation which faced my Dad on the way home from London recently. He was stood next to the father who was the object of said tirade on a packed train out of Waterloo station.

The father's response was not to snap back at his son with the righteous fury of a weary parent, nor was it to admonish the boy in any way whatsoever. Rather, the dad's response to his son's tirade was to ignore him.

The son eventually got the message and calmed down - but my dad had to endure the screaming which ensued whilst the message got through.

But, is that the right thing to do in a packed commuter train? By ignoring the child, was this well intentioned father actually subjecting the rest of the train to an ear bashing which a) they did not deserve and b) ruined their journey home?

Should we modify our disciplinary strategies to the situations in which we find ourselves? Or is consistency the key?

Speak soon

PS I am delighted to announce that Dad Etc has been shortlisted for the Brilliance in Blogging Family Blogger Award run by Britmums - hence the rather flashy looking button at the top of the Blog. I am up against some very tough competition (15 mummy bloggers and me - it takes a brave man!) so would be eternally in your debt if you felt that this blog was worth a vote. You can vote by clicking on the button above or by clicking here. Thank you so much - and fingers crossed.
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