1 Yr. Old Acting up in Public

Updated on November 25, 2008
M.M. asks from Orlando, FL
23 answers

So, yesterday I had my first "Embarrassing and I don't know what to do and wish everyone would stop looking at me" moment. My son is almost one and thought he doesn't talk he does babble quite a bit. He does like to do this really REALLY REALLY high pitched squeal whenever he sees our cat. He does it out of excitement. I've been encouraging him to use a lower voice since this really is loud and because I didn't want him doing it when we're at the store one day. Well, low and behold yesterday we were at Publix and he started doing it. Only...he wouldn't stop when I said "No, we don't scream like that." He only started to laugh and do it repeatedly. I was in the dairy aisle and people all the way in the produce area were staring at me. I was very firm and serious when I told him no but he did not relent. He's a pretty good listener and understands no (most times) and really he's been a great baby so far. I guess that's why it was so frustrating to me. I was just about done with my shopping list so I finished up and tried to ignore all the stares I was getting. Once I got in the car I just sat and cried. I guess since this is the first time he's ever acted up like that it was just an "Aw hah" moment. I'm sure he'll do it again and I'll just get used to it...but I was wondering...what do you moms do if this happens? How do you contain the tantrum/bad behavior and save face? After I thought about it I was thinking I should have just picked him up out of the cart after a couple of times of him being disobedient and left the store. I know he's a baby, and my husband tells me not to worry and that nobody goes to the grocery store to relax and that it just happens...but I guess it's hard for me because this is the first time that I've really realized that maybe my perfect little baby isn't always going to be perfect. I know, I know he's a baby. Well...thanks for listening..I think I mostly just needed to vent.

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K.A.

answers from Jacksonville on

Sorry to say... he will do it again. I have two boys (ages 2 and almost 4). Even at those ages, they don't always listen when you say "no". The only thing I can say is that all those people looking at you are probably thinking, "Wow! I remember when my kid did that to me. I'm glad to see someone else has to go through it too."

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K.M.

answers from Miami on

At his age, probably distraction is your best bet while you ignore it. Ask him to put things in the cart for you. Ask him to help you find stuff. Go get a free cookie from the bakery. ;) It's hard to squeal with food in your mouth, you know? Really, we've all been there with our kids doing embarrassing things.

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S.S.

answers from Miami on

M.,

As a mother to 3 boys, ages 13, 6 and 3 I can tell you that this is normal at that age. You can bring things into the store to distract him, bring snacks with you, but the best thing to do is to understand that it doesn't matter what the other people in the store think. He is a baby and babies do these things. Think about it this way, when there children were that age they were not perfect no child was; so how can you expect your child to behave perfectly. This will continue to happen and you have to find creative ways to handle them when they do happen. I know that it is hard but if you don't come up with come ideas now you will only make it harder on yourself later. Try toys, snacks or singing to him; anything that you think might work.

Good luck.

S.

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C.W.

answers from Miami on

duct tape. and if you can't go through with that, know that it happens to every mom. and sometimes we are so preoccupied trying to keep the little ones quiet that we don't realize that some of the looks are sympathetic and even a lillte wistful. so just grin and bear it, it won't last forever.

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J.R.

answers from Miami on

Hi M.,

Sometimes I think parenting is all about the art of distraction and your own attitude. My son is almost 10 months old and sometimes does that high pitched shrieking thing too. I know I love my son, but I can't expect everyone else to (especially in restaurants) so I try to contain the shrieking to when we're at home - but that's not always possible. I don't think your son is shrieking to be 'bad' - he's doing it because of your reaction and the way it sounds. I try to save my 'no's for things that I really don't want my son to do - like touching the hot radiator. So when he's doing things like shrieking, I try to distract him and get him to do other things. For example, he loves crinkly noises, so in the store I might have offered him a bag of something (like pasta) that he could rattle and wave around. If the shrieking continues, I can start to loose my patience. Another mom friend I know just starts laughing and says he's "calling his people" or "calling the dolphins" - this helps me to relax about it and think about how I can creatively distract him to do something else - cause telling him no rarely seems to work. Hope that helps -
J.

1 mom found this helpful

V.W.

answers from Jacksonville on

If it makes you feel any better, almost every mother, EVER, has been through something similar. All those stares... if they were from women, they were probably sympathy stares from having been there themselves. You were just self-conscious so were probably thinking the worst. But really, it sounds like you handled it great. Don't give in and don't get worked up. Any reaction from you (other than calm, monotone) just encourages his behavior (whatever it is he is doing). The real tantrums will come soon, and if you handle the first couple as well as what you just did, then they'll go away almost as quickly.
Good luck, mama. You are doing great.
And yes, the first time we realize that they are not perfect angels, it is a little upsetting. But it will pass too.

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L.H.

answers from Miami on

it's hard. but it's ok.
just keep talking to other SUPPORTIVE mamas!
your BABY is still a BABY and does not understand fully
what you want when you say to be quiet-
your baby IS a PERFECT baby!!! he's doing what BABIES do!

I would go to the parenting forums of www.thebabywearer.com/forum
and at
http://www.windsorpeak.com/vbulletin/forumdisplay.php?f=75

to find support :-)

Hold that BABY! "SPOIL" (yes I said SPOIL bcse I do not believe you can spoil a baby- food spoils, not babies) that baby!!! ENJOY THAT BABY!!!

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R.E.

answers from Orlando on

I went through the same thing with my daughter. She is four now and still has occational boughts of high pitched screeches. The approach you took with your son now works on her. She understands the difference between good attention and "she's in trouble" attention. But this did not work at 1yr. This is what I did. Whether they are in the cart or down walking, you immediately get a mean face and go eye level and say "That is unacceptable behavior" or what ever phrase you choose but use the same one each time. Then walk away. Stay in eye sight and you don't have to walk far but close enough that know one things you have left your child but far enough away that the child thinks you have. Don't look directly at him. Go about "shopping" being completely focused on what ever is in front of you. As soon as he stops and gets composure, go back with a happy or normal face and continue shopping like nothing happened. You'll have to change your tactic a bit when the unacceptable behavior is running off while in a store. For that, I use the "you scared Mommy's almost going to cry" face and "someone could have taken you and I would cry. Do you see my face? How do I feel? If you run off, I will cry." The best way to deal with these those is to prevent them. I always bring food. If I don't have food, then I open packages in the store so they can eat. I pay for them at the end of the trip but as long as the price isn't based on weight, then this is OK. And everyone understands. best of luck and remember that those with kids will understand and everyone will get over it.

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A.G.

answers from Mayaguez on

You could give him his water bottle---for a distraction? Or some keys. If he still keeps at it and makes you unconfortable, take him down from the cart. Maybe it wont even be necessary to get him out of the store. And don't mind the stares, it's not like he's the first child ever to do it.Good luck with your little angel.

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P.B.

answers from Boca Raton on

Does he enjoy going to the store? This next time, tell him he will stay home with you or your husband when someone shops the next time, and explain to him first why he is not going. Then also explain why he is not to scream in the store. And I agree, you should have taken him through the checkout immediately, then finished your shopping later, without him.

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M.C.

answers from Daytona Beach on

As a Gramma, I always grin from ear to ear when I see kids behave that way!

In other words, I understand perfectly and - really - your husband is right: there IS nothing you can do about it...just do NOT let your son use that to get things from you... Don't bribe him to stop! People who never had children are clueless, don't worry about them. Those who DO have children recognize that all you COULD do is belt the poor little baby, and - well - clearly having him scream in outrage and pain would NOT solve the problem, now, would it?

So: Yep, you're right on target. And - bad news: he'll do MORE stuff to annoy the heck out of you. But - as I often joke: Let 'em live, because - he'll make you a gramma one day and then it will ALL be worth it!!!

Have fun!

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L.W.

answers from Miami on

We've all been there! I can tell you what I've done. First, I go shopping with someone else whenever I can so that if they act up, I can do my shopping and they can sit in the car with the other person or vice versa. If I have to go alone, I leave if I can. If I have to get it done, then I just deal with it. Tell them right before you go in how they are to behave and what the punishment will be at home if they don't. I've found that often it's an attention thing. I tell them no at first, and how it's rude etc. in public. With my youngest (2), I just continue this and be patient, there isn't much else you can do. With my older kids - 8, 6, and 4,- I tell them that I don't really want to shop with someone who is being rude and to please be more quiet. If they don't, I ignore the behavior and even just walk away. (only to the next aisle of course) They generally quiet down because they don't want to be alone. If they continue, just ignore it, and the stares you will get. It is awful, but it is best not to let them think this is a great way to get attention. Then when you get home, carry out your punishment. My children all went through these time periods, but I haven't had any trouble in a couple years. You will occasionally get people who will respond horribly to you. Once when my oldest son was screaming, my husband calmly picked him up and carried him screaming to the car. (he was 7!) Some lady came up to me and told me we were horrible.... But just be confident in yourself, and patient and it will pass.

Also- I let them take one small toy to play with and my oldest helps me with the list.

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S.M.

answers from Miami on

Hi, M.. Oh, Sweetie...I understand how you feel, but yes, it's true -- he's a baby. He doesn't understand how to behave in public yet. As far as people staring...yes, I truly, truly understand how that feels. I actually have a kind of a phobia about people staring, and the only way I got over it is to understand that when people stare, THEY are the ones who are out of line, not me and not my child. Nobody is supposed to stand there and stare at you as though you were a big TV set, so THEY are the ones who are out of place, not the young Mommy with the very young child. You are doing nothing wrong.

Now, about the baby's behavior. At his age, babies love nothing more than seeing that something they do causes a reaction. They don't get it that they're making you miserable -- all your son knows is that he's getting a reaction, and it's very gratifying to him.

I actually got my son out of the screaming thing by gently getting in his face every time he made that awful sound and speaking to him very, very quietly. Every, every time, from the time he started screeching until he got the message -- a couple of weeks or a month, I can't remember. And then I modeled other ways to get attention. It worked; I don't know if it would work on every baby. But the point is that if he gets a big reaction from screeching, he'll do it much more and very enthusiastically. It's not your fault. It's hard to not react.

I have to go help my boss, but I hope I've been helpful. Don't blame your self.

Peace & hugs,
Syl

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S.J.

answers from Orlando on

Just wanted to give you a few more tricks for shopping. In Publix, I have used the "cookie" bribe, wherein the kids have to behave the whole trip if they want their free cookie. Also, as I shop, I give them the things that they can't destroy or hurt themselves with to put in the cart themselves. Boxes are great because they want to play with it first before putting it in the cart, which give you more time. Pick anything off the shelf that will keep their attention, then give it to the check out clerk and let them know you don't want it.

And ignore the other people -- those with kids understand.

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L.W.

answers from Orlando on

Welcome to motherhood!! Ignore the stares. Most of them weren't against you but sympathetic. We have all been there. Try distraction, although I have had four boys so good luck with that. You can , and I have done this, make a big deal out of saying "No, No that is unacceptable", and if he won't stop, immediately remove him from the seat, and take him out of the store. You can always go back when he calms down. or not, it's up to you. Repeat as necessary. Makes shopping longer, but you feel as if youa re doing something and shock value works.

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T.B.

answers from Miami on

Welcome to motherhood in its purest form of the word. I'm assuming this is your first child. I can promise with complete confidence that something like this will ultimately happen...again at some point. I know, because I have 3 children, the youngest is two. Grocery shopping or any other excursion is never a great experience 100 % of the time. Babies get tired, hungry, bored, and you really have limited resources when baby is strapped to the cart. With all that said, your husband is a great encourager and is right. Don't worry about people staring and God forbid ANYONE dare say anything to you, you simply smile, shrug your shoulders,and walk away.

Next time your sweet angel decides to squeal with delight, tell him in a low voice, that his screaming is not acceptable and that the customers don't like to hear screaming. If he continues, I would ignore him. More attention to the unacceptable behavior = more unacceptable behavior. You have to understand that the more you tell him to stop, the more it becomes a game. Babies LOVE to see their mommy's all frazzled. It's truly a game. Ward yourself next time with Cheerios, fish crackers, ANY snack you approve of, a drink, and maybe a toy. He is a baby. Babies are unpredictable but because you can predict it will happen again, you can be better prepared by bringing something to distract him with. Distraction is key and crucial for times like this. Sure you could have plucked him from the cart and left the store for 5 minutes but I can guarantee that the moment you put him back into the cart, he may have been worse off than when you left. Smile at the onlookers and walk away. The truth is that most people at the store have been parents at some point and if they are older shoppers, then they are grand-parents and they are not judging you. If anything, they are looking at you with sympathy and compassion. Those who do not have children are the ones who would dare give you a dirty look and it's not your fault that your baby is having a moment. Most people who are annoyed by my screaming child walk away in a huff anyway. Pat yourself on the back and stop beating yourself up. You're a mom just like the rest of us. Welcome to motherhood.

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S.S.

answers from Miami on

Look up the a book by alan kazdin. The kazid method forparenting the defiant child.
It is really such a wonderful book based on 30 years of his own studiy working with children and familys on behavior .
My daughter is almost three now and I sure wish I could have read it when she was one,I truly believe it would have helped many many moments of frustration and anger and almost depression that have come and gone many times
My daughter is a WONDERFUL ,loving kind ,funny , fun little being, but man when she gets her moments,it can somtimes last for hours!!!
This book is truly helping me to understand "behavior" in general and what we can do to work together to create the behavior desired.

Best of luck

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J.M.

answers from Pensacola on

I am also a mother of three boys, an almost 5 year old, a 2 year old and a 10 month old! It will happen like that with every one of them. So don't feel bad. Next time he does it (and I'm sure he will) just push your buggy to the front of the store and tell a cashier to watch your buggy while you deal with the screamer. Then take him to the car and strap him into his seat and tell him that when he's done screaming you will go back into the store. It may take a few times, but he will get the picture. You don't have to be angry or upset (or cry :). Just tell him like it is. It's the only way they learn. A good way to help him along with this is to go to the store when you don't really need anything and the whole point is to teach him how to act proper in the store. I won't ever forget the look on my sons face when we were all 5 in Walmart and he started throwing a fit. At almost 5 years old, no way was that going to be allowed. Daddy stopped dead in his tracks, picked him up and rushed him out of the store to stay in the car. That particular day, we didn't get what we needed, but sometimes that's just the way it goes. Best of luck to you! Jen

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E.D.

answers from Orlando on

Try not to threaten to leave the store. That really only punishes you. As he gets older and figures out that grocery shopping is not very fun he might start acting out just to get to leave the store. Try distracting by pointing at familiar objects and talking about them. He is young so if you tell him to stop it once and then ignore it and talk about other things, he will probably stop.

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C.H.

answers from Jacksonville on

Don't beat yourself up! It happens to EVERYONE. The worst thing you could have done was stop what you were doing and left. My son just turned two, but when he was around 1 yrs he started with the public outbursts! So embarassing! I found the more I ignored that behavior, he would stop. He wants a reaction, and he's getting it. Try distracting him, sing a song, etc. Its a stage, and eventually, it will get better.....then worse (terrible twos) SOrry! but by the time he's in the two's you'll be able to handle the feeling of embarassment. If people have a problem with it, oh well! You have your hands full without worrying about everyone else! So relax and try to roll with it! Good luck!

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P.E.

answers from Panama City on

Don't worry about other people they just wonder what's going on, Yhey may be remembering when their child did it too. If he is allowed to do it at home thatgive him permision to do it any where. Brigfht side his lung are good. My story at the check out line my daughter wanted some chapstick. I said oick one. No good enough for her time to fuss. Lady behind me said she'd buy them for her,I thanked her then explained that I said one and my child needed to know I meant what I said.
he learned that fussing wasn't going to get her anything. When she tried it again we left the store with out any.

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T.B.

answers from Orlando on

Your husband has a point, only in that I just give people a wide eyed "dirty look" type stare when they do that to me. I mean, when I see someone's kiddo acting up, I know they are probably already embarrassed enough so I don't stare at them unless I think I can help out or unless they are hitting their child or something. The polite thing to do is pretend you don't notice, then wipe the blood out of your eardrums after you round the corner. (ha ha, only kidding)

There are so many different methods of discipline; Don't do time outs, Do time outs, etc. Anyway, it really doesn't matter what consequence you choose, just do something quickly, and know what you will do BEFORE you enter the store.

By quickly, I mean that you look him right in the eye and say please stop doing x or I will do y. You may want to allow a "by the time I count to 3" statement to give him a few seconds to change gears. Then at the time you hit 3, DO whatever you said you would do, CONSISTENLY, without fail, every time.

This will actually help the child learn to control their own temper or actions. He is obviously testing you and asking for a limit, so this is a great opportunity to teach him just exactly what will happen.

Another thing this helps with is your own temper. If you are nipping things in the bud, they don't escalate to the point where your child is being trained not to listen to you because you keep repeating yourself and doing nothing when they don't listen, and the top of your head is not blowing off because again, you are not repeating yourself over and over and being ignored.

You have to gauge each situation, but it is also helpful to find a distraction that always works. I use Mr. Hand from a discipline book I was reading. They said it always works, and I KID YOU NOT, every time I pull Mr. Hand out and have him start talking to my child, it pulls her right out of the tantrum. I usually opt to use him instead of a consequence based upon the emotional"ness" of her tantrum. If she is really totally in emotional freak out mode, I feel the distraction is more appropriate than the consequence. Or other situations where the consequence is not practical or appropriate. You have to judge each sitation separately, and quickly! LOL

Here is what I do for a consequence in stores. I tell her she is going outside to time out. She knows she is in trouble because my face and demeanor are serious, and I take her strongly out of the cart and hold her kind of stiffly (not hard or anything!) and walk briskly while telling her that's it, we are going outside because you are not listening to mommy. Then we stand together outside of Publix and I make her face the wall while I am crouching down beside her. We're facing the wall because if she is having fun waving to people going by it's not very effective. It truly doesn't matter how long, you can start with two seconds! That always snaps her out of it and then we can finish shopping, and she knows there will always be some consequence, taking something away, putting her in the cart if she's out, going out of the store, etc. Start now, and he'll know what is expected of him before he turns the dreaded 2!!

I always bring 3 or 4 snacks, toys, juice into the store, and give things to her spaced out so we always have something new. I let her put cans into the basket, hold the list or a green pepper, stop and play with a ball or stuffed dog that they sell, get a balloon when we arrive instead of when we leave...etc. And my list is always very organized so I can get in and out. Just to keep her from getting bored. Then I talk to her about what I'm doing the whole time we are there to keep her involved. "Oh now this is dairy, that comes from cows, can you say moo?" lol

Hope that helps, and hey, I have a friend with 2 close in age who always act up at the store. At least you only have 1! :-)

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B.B.

answers from Jacksonville on

YOu will definately have more times like this, and some even worse. That is what having children are all about. When my kids break down I make sure they are safe i.e. strapped into the stroller or grocery cart and finish what I am doing without giving them any attention> i smile at the people looking at me, knowing full well that the ones with kids feel my pain and the ones who never had any wouldn't understand. Kids break down in public it is normal. My pediatrican said she would take her kids out and put them into the car seat until they calmed down, then they would leave. She said it only took her 3 times and they never did it again. For me with 3 kids under 3 yrs of age, I would be leaving every store and would never have groceries. Normally they act up towards the end of my trip and I can't bare starting all over so I have ignored that advice but with one I would try it. Another thing I do is make my trip as quick as possible> i have a list and only get the necessary items, so we are out before they have a break down.