How many times have we asked our children what's wrong and not gotten a satisfactory answer? I can't even count the number of times I have. Often, they have no idea or just can't articulate it. Maybe that sandwich reminded them of something else. Maybe they're just having a bad day. In my experience, if you let them cry it out while you lovingly support them, they will come through the other side and have a wonderful rest of their day.
So, what about those big disappointments? We can do the same thing. Just hold them lovingly and let them cry it out. It's important to validate their feelings. There are some things we can't fix, and that can be frustrating for us as parents. But, we can still acknowledge the hurt our little ones feel when they are disappointed. It can also trigger something in ourselves, but it's so important to let them know they don't have to deal with it alone. Then, when it's over, be sure to do something for yourself - a cup of tea, a conversation with another parent, there are so many simple things available to us. It's not easy to remain calm when our little ones are melting down. It sometimes triggers old memories in ourselves that have been long buried. I've found that my own children and grandchildren kick up memories from when I was their current age. Some of those memories are not easy to look at. We bury them for a good reason. Children are brilliant and have finely tuned instincts. They are not too old to have had them dulled by society. They intuitively know what will rile us up, and have very little desire to avoid those triggers.
What if your child is having a tantrum in a public place? I've had to deal with that multiple times with my own children and children I was care taking. It is not easy an easy situation. The best thing to do is to try to stay calm and ease them out of it. If that doesn't work, remove them to a more private place. I had a 7-year old friend of my son throw himself on the ground screaming, at Hoffman's Playland in Latham, because it was time to leave and I wouldn't buy tickets for one more ride. I knelt down on the ground and tried to reason with him. He was much too big for me to lift up. When a security guard came over and started aggressively questioning me, I leaned down and whispered in this young boy's ear, gritting my teeth and putting as much authority in my voice as I could muster, "Get up now or I promise you, you will be very sorry." I said this very slowly with venom in my voice. It was probably not one of my finest moments, but it worked. He got up, assured the guard that he was with me and was fine, and we left. I did not yell at him on the way home because it was over. I didn't tell his mother because she would have yelled. He was like another son, spending lots of time at our house including many overnights, sometimes more than one at a time. I needed him to trust me, and I'd handled it. There was no need for further drama, and he never did it again.
There are no rule books, no owners manuals, no real guidance given to us when we have children. We have to figure things out as we go. I was lucky enough to have elders whom I trusted and could ask questions of. Not all of us have that. It is the hardest job anyone could do. We make lots of mistakes, but hopefully, our children survive those mistakes and go on to lead productive lives. I know mine did, and I was far from perfect.
Now, for some wintertime fun ...