Manners Matter: Screaming Kids

Dear Mary Pat,

I was visiting Florida over Easter break, and every time I turned around, a young toddler was having a tantrum. I’m not talking about a little crying or whining; I’m talking full-on nuclear meltdowns: screaming at pitches that could pierce eardrums, little bodies flopping down on the ground in rage and red faces streaked with tears. As annoying as these poor little ones were, it was the parents who were to blame. I’m not saying that it’s the parents’ fault every time a child cries or carries on. Obviously not. It’s just that little children are pushed too much, and they are at their absolute breaking point after hour eight at the theme park, or after being paraded into their fifth store, or after missing their two naps of the day. They aren’t mini adults and shouldn’t be expected to keep up with their parents or older siblings. Why do people put their little children through this misery, not to mention everyone else within earshot?

Witness to Chaos
Kissimmee, Florida  

Dear Witness to Chaos,

I suppose not all parents are thinking rationally, and many want to get the most out of their vacation time. Unfortunately, there is usually a distinct expiration time on little ones’ good behavior in public. Children tend to do best when they can follow their routine. When they’re on vacation, it’s important to stick as closely to that routine as possible and not just chuck everything out the window. If an infant takes a bottle every two hours, that doesn’t change just because his or her parents are traveling. If a toddler has a nap for an hour and a half every morning, that still needs to happen. Parents should also consider their child’s age when making plans. Yes, a four-year-old may love the Disney Junior channel, but does that mean that the same child is ready for (or can truly appreciate) a vacation at Disney World that includes a packed itinerary four days in a row? My answer is no. Wait until they are old enough to appreciate their surroundings, or at the very least, keep reasonable hours for them. Your kids will thank you; people’s shattered nerves will thank you; and you will be able to end your days on a positive note without any visits to the time-out chair.

Good luck,
Mary Pat