Mom Tells Onlookers to Stop Ignoring Kids’ Public Tantrums and Instead Support Parents

April 13, 2019 Updated: April 18, 2019

It can be embarrassing for parents when their children kick up a fuss and have a meltdown in public. A Pennsylvania mother who saw another mom go through this scenario decided to extend a little warmth to the other mom. Thanks to this kind act, she admits, “…we are both better for it.”

In October 2018, Katie McLaughlin, of York, was at Target when she “witnessed a meltdown of epic proportions,” she wrote on her Facebook page, “Pick Any Two by Katie McLaughlin.”

This morning at Target I witnessed a meltdown of epic proportions. Behind me at the checkout, this 3-year-old was…

Posted by Pick Any Two by Katie McLaughlin on Thursday, October 4, 2018

“Behind me at the checkout, this 3-year-old was kicking and screaming and flopping around on the floor like a fish out of water,” McLaughlin recalled.

Being a mom of two young children herself, she knew how it felt to have a toddler having a meltdown in public. She wanted to “catch the mom’s eye and give her an empathetic look.”

However, the mom was so busy dealing with the fuss her daughter had kicked up that she didn’t see McLaughlin.

As McLaughlin observed the situation, she noticed the mom was trying her best to calm down the toddler by speaking in a “gentle, reassuring tone,” and being attentive to the child while paying for her items.

Posted by Pick Any Two by Katie McLaughlin on Friday, July 25, 2014

“But despite her best efforts, the meltdown only got bigger and bigger,” McLaughlin recounted.

At that moment, McLaughlin wondered if she should approach the mom to give her some encouragement. She decided against the idea because … “it’s none of your business,” she reminded herself.

Still, McLaughlin couldn’t help herself from extending a little warmth.

When she saw the mom and child at the parking lot, she approached them.

“Sorry to bother you, but I just wanted to say you’re doing a great job,” McLaughlin told the mom.

Shout out to all the moms who can't get a picture without at least one child totally blurry.

Posted by Pick Any Two by Katie McLaughlin on Saturday, August 27, 2016

The mom was surprised.

“She looked up at me, blinked twice, and then visibly melted,” McLaughlin recalled.

“I think I feel as bad as she does,” the mom told her.

“I know it doesn’t feel like it now, but you are rocking this,” McLaughlin said as she nodded her head.

By now, the mom was already in tears.

“You have no idea how much I needed to hear that,” the mom said to her.

Of course, McLaughlin knew how it felt and wanted to encourage other parents to show some kindness like she had if they happened to come across a similar situation.

“Let’s take the risk,” she wrote. “That mom could have looked at me funny. She could have told me to mind my own business. But I took the chance and we are both better for it.”

And she has a few words of advice: “Empathy instead of judgment. Support instead of silence. Community instead of isolation. This is the parenting revolution.”

No one likes to be in such an awkward situation; thus, it is important for people to be understanding and supportive instead of passing judgment.

McLaughlin’s choice to extend a little warmth would’ve made this trip to Target one to remember for both her and the other mom. So, don’t underestimate the effect of a simple act of kindness—it can go a long way!