An Open Letter to The Mom Who Almost Hit Her Child Leaving the Big Box Store

I was walking in back of you recently, leaving a local 'big box' retailer in the early evening hours and watched you struggle with your child. She appeared to be about seven or eight years of age and she was refusing to walk with you and kept lagging behind. A few times she even stopped on purpose and it was making you extremely mad.

First of all, let me say that I've been in your shoes, having raised three children of my own and helped care for a few grand children as well. It's not easy dragging children along at the end of the day when you're on a tight schedule and feeling rushed, stressed, and tired. 

I first want to thank you for not hitting that little girl, although you came awfully close to doing just that, a few times. I could see that she was testing you to your limits and your voice began to increase in volume and tone. I prayed that you didn't hit her when you got into your vehicle or when you got her back home.

If I could have offered some assistance to you, I would have. Unfortunately, witnesses to incidents like this have learned to mind their own business and pretend not to see it. Many years ago in a busy shopping center, I stepped in to offer help to an angry parent just like you. The woman responded by telling me to mind my own business and that she was going to call security and complain that I was bothering her, if I didn't leave.

Your little girl's refusal to walk cooperatively at your side is
communication. She is trying to tell you something and you've not be trained to get past your anger and frustration long enough to see her behavior for what it really is. When children are feeling something, they communicate through their behavior. Trust me, she knows that you want to get home quickly but her defiance is a way of either getting revenge or demonstrating the need to feel powerful over you and it's working.

Perhaps there was something she wanted and you said no, or it could have been that she felt rushed and bossed around and her defiance was her way of letting you know how angry she was feeling. The response to the little girl's behavior should not have been to give in to her to buy something, and it was probably good that you didn't do that. But getting angry to the point of nearly hitting her wasn't either.

Since you probably wouldn't welcome a stranger's offer for help, here are some suggestions for avoiding these incidents in the future. Please refrain from taking the children shopping when you're feeling tired and stressed. If this isn't possible, then set expectations on purchases for your children before going into a store. Finally, please make your relationship with your child a priority in your life, not just an afterthought.

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