Can you please not stare when a kid is throwing a tantrum?

Don’t be fooled by this innocent-looking face! She can throw one mean tantrum!

Imagine that you are in a public place such as a shopping mall and your kid suddenly throws a tantrum, screaming on top of her voice (actually, if you are a parent, I don’t think you would need to imagine this scenario as it would have happened to you already….)

Anyway, how would you want the strangers around you to react when you are trying to calm both yourself and your kid down? Would you appreciate their smiles of sympathy? Or have them gawking at you as if you are putting on a performance for them? Or would you rather that they pretend not to see or hear your screaming child and your terrible effort at calming your kid down?

Isabel and I had such an episode ourselves last Saturday. It was just like any other Saturday where we sent Ethan to his extra-curricular class. It was 1pm when we dropped him off and we had 2 hours to kill. So I decided to go to a nearby mall which we had frequented many times while waiting for Ethan to finish his class.

Isabel was in her usual cheerful and talkative mood. When we reached the mall, we didn’t have any specific shops to go to so she suggested to visit Toys R Us. Usually, I would warn her that we are not going to buy any toys and she is not supposed to beg or cry. But that day, I did not mention the rules and maybe she was expecting me to buy her something.

So off she ran to the Baby Alive section and started admiring all the dolls. Then she asked me to buy her the doll that can pee and poo which costs RM249! Of course I said no. I am not going to spend such an amount of money on a toy! Isabel then set her aim lower and tried her luck on the cheaper toys – all of which I said no to. When it was time to go off, she refused to leave if I did not buy her a toy. I carried her up and headed to the exit. She would usually just cry a little bit and stop. But this time, she threw on a mega tantrum, screaming and wailing on top of her lungs.

I told her to stop but she cried even louder. I could feel everyone’s eyes upon us. Kids were staring as if they had never done so themselves. Parents asked their kids to look as if there was something amusing happening. And worse, the mall was so small that Isabel’s scream could be heard from one end of the mall to the other end. Everyone was looking as we went down the escalator from the second floor to the basement.

Some of them were smiling – maybe they were giving me smiles of encouragement but it looked more like they were smiling because they were so glad that it was not happening to them. Some were downright staring and gawking as if they had never seen a screaming child.

As the basement were full of people eating at the restaurants, everyone looked up and watched us. Even sales assistants came out to have a look.  The sales promoter who was conducting sampling session stopped to enjoy the show.

And it made matters worse when Isabel started hitting and scratching me. Those little fingers which always looked so cute and adorable like they belong to the hands of an angel were definitely capable to causing some serious pain! Look at the photo on the left to see the ‘wounds’ she had inflicted on me. You can see the five red spots where her fingernails had dug in.

Anyway, all that I am trying to say is this – can you please not stare when a child is throwing a tantrum? Really, there is no show to watch. And really, there is no need for that sympathetic smile nor the smirk. Ok? Just ignore like it is no big deal. That’s how you show that you understand that this is how children behave sometimes and that you are still doing fine as a parent.

Unless, of course, you suspect that the woman is actually not the kid’s mother and that she is trying to snatch the kid away. Then you can all stare and someone better do something about it!

So if there is no suspected kidnapping going on, please do not stare!


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