Sometime around 9 p.m., before the second leg of a cross-country flight, my just-turned-4-year-old decided she had had enough. She let out a scream and went full noodle right at the end of a moving walkway in Chicago Midway. I had the baby in a carrier and a death grip on my older daughter’s hand, so it was up to my husband to scoop up our enraged, sweaty middle child and keep hold of her and all our bags as we made our way to the gate.
The poor kid had been traveling all day. Offers of treats were no longer effective. Neither were our warnings. She was exhausted, pushed well beyond her capabilities to self-regulate at that point in our journey. Though I knew this, I was still mad.
Sometimes you just have to white-knuckle through these extreme parenting moments of high stress and little to do about it. But when things calm down, these wild outbursts almost always make me think hard about discipline, and what might work better next time.