So you're standing in a line — at the post office, the grocery check-out, a restaurant — and your toddler decides that they have HAD IT. Cue full meltdown, tears (yours and theirs), that hot flush that starts at the base of the neck and takes over your whole face as you run out of public view, certain every stare from surrounding strangers is judging your every parenting decision. Good times.
Yes, sooner or later, the public tantrum happens to all of us, and it feels pretty awful. But could it be that we parents are taking on too much responsibility and guilt for our children's public (mis)behavior? In a recent interview with Babble, "Bad Moms" actress Kristen Bell asserted she doesn't get embarrassed when her young daughters with husband Dax Shepherd, Lincoln, 3, and Delta Bell, 2, throw a tantrum.
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"If my child is acting a fool in the grocery store, the embarrassment is on her,” Bell explains. “In truth, that shouldn’t make me feel a certain way," Bell said.
"She’s going to act the way a child acts,” says Bell, “and I’m not going to let that reflect on me or bring me down. That shouldn’t make me feel ashamed or embarrassed in any way. Only you can make you feel a certain way.”
So instead of taking our children's behavior personally and going home with our parenting tails between our legs and drowning our sorrows in chocolate (just me?), Bell advocated that parents take a hard look at their own self esteem and the way they manage their own feelings before taking on their children's. She also suggested that we not let strangers' stares make us feel worse.
“How I feel about situations is up to me, and it’s exhausting sometimes to hear so many people say, ‘How can I feel better about this?' Feel better about it. That’s the answer," she said. "That’s not to put down feelings. Feeling exist, they are important. They deserve to be felt and processed, and then you make your choice after you’ve processed the feeling. Once the negative feeling starts to own you, it’s on you to put it in the trash and let it go. You are the only person that has the power to change your feelings.”
The next time our precious offspring decide to go DEFCON 4 in the middle of Target, it's worth a shot.