Mothers Speak: PDA

In this case, PDA stands for “Public Discipline Anxiety”.

Let’s just say, hypothetically of course, that you get a hankering for a cheeseburger. You call up a few friends for a spontaneous lunch at a favorite neighborhood burger joint and upon arrival the waitress seats you right smack dab in the middle of the dining room. You strategically position yourself on a corner end of the table so that both of your high-chaired babies are safely within reach. You hit up the waiter for a couple of straws per kid to serve as make shift drum sticks, and just as you begin settle in to peruse the lunch specials to satisfy your serious red meat craving, the inevitable happens. Here it comes. The meltdown of all meltdowns. Whether he lost his drumstick or his shoe fell off or you ordered cranberry juice when what he really wanted was milk…. whatever the infraction, your toddler begins to throw the epic fit of the century. Tear streaming, straw throwing, broken record demanding… you can tell this one is going to be a chart topper. You immediately feel the eyes of the other patrons beginning to bore a hole through you head who are not doubt thinking one thing: ” Can’t you shut that kid up?!” You quickly assess that your mommy instincts are somewhat lacking in the crisis of the moment. Do you:

a.) give into whatever he demands so to spare yourself and those around you from having a regrettable mealtime experience?

b.) ignore your child’s fit and therefore send the message to everyone within a 10 foot radius that they darn well better just deal with it?

c.) throw a fit yourself and mutter something about payback for all the times you gave other helpless parents that look in all your days of blissful pre-child ignorance?

d.) remove the fitting child from the scene, take him into the public bathroom or out to the parking lot and put the fear of God in him with that classic mommy line, “if you cry like that again, I’ll give you something to cry about”?

e.) stay home

Now I know this has never happened to you. But imagine with me that it did. Which option would you choose? Or better yet, what do you have in your mommy bag of tricks that you can pass along to the rest of us? Oh please…. do tell!



  1. beth said,

    May 25, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    oh man, well just in case that happens from what i have read they say take the child away from the situation, that way it shows them it is not acceptable and they wont get to enjoy anything if they continue to act that way. but sometimes when you really want to be where you really want to be i say semi give in, or at least take them to the bathroom to see if you can calm them down any so you can stay where you want to stay…just in case that happens ­čÖé

  2. Angel Radford said,

    May 25, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Salina – I say do the hard work when they are little and you can enjoy them the rest of your life. My kids are 9 & 11 and they are a pleasure to be around. We were very persistent when they were little about first time obedience. When you have a meltdown, be it public or private, I always remove the child from the situation. I would tell them, “When you have yourself under control, we can talk.” At home, I would sit them on the floor in the bathroom or on the stairs. Somewhere out of the way, so they do not get the attention they may be looking for. In public it isn’t as easy – the restroom or the parking lot will do – sit quietly until they have quieted themselves. Then calmly correct them about unacceptable behavior and using words to tell mommy what you need or want. Ask about their needs or desires “Did you want juice instead of milk?” I’m sorry you didn’t get exactly what you wanted, but you cannot behave in this way. Tell mommy what you need and I will do my best to make that happen. If I can’t, then we will try to make the best of what we have. Depending on the age and compliance of the child, I always try to use scripture to reinforce the desired behavior. My favorites are Romans 12 and Ephesians 6. Remember they are learning to obey and respect you so that ultimately they can obey and respect the Lord. The goal of good discipline is not to get good behavior or compliance so that you can do what you want to do – the goal is to correct a sinful heart, to bring restoration between the child and parent and the Lord. You may think your child is too young to understand alll this and that is true. That’s why you have to do it over and over and over again until they recognize the pattern. You do it a thousand times when they are little and you hardly ever have to do it when they are older. People comment frequently at how little effort it takes to get complete cooperation from my two kids – mild correction, one time usually does the trick. BUT it took tons of work when they were 2 & 3 & 4….It’s worth the hard work. Press on girl!

    • ladylullabuy said,

      May 25, 2011 at 8:33 pm

      Oh Angel! That is so encouraging. I am going to copy my husband on this, since he and I were just discussing our game plan for these meltdown moments. I am thrilled to hear that your children are a pleasure. I so want my children to be a blessing to those around us and nothing pleases my heart more as a mom then when the church nursery worker or a babysitter tells me that Salem was kind or that he obeyed the first time he was asked to do something. Consistency and being mindful of the big picture…. restoration between the child, the parent, and the Lord. That is beautiful. You are beautiful! Thank you so much!

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