Katie McLaughlin, a mum and blogger, knows that bringing a toddler out in public can be challenging, especially if your kiddo is set on making your shopping trip difficult. She explained in a Facebook post how she stepped in when a stranger's 3-year-old daughter was having "a meltdown of epic proportions" inside Target, and frankly, we should all take a page out of her book.
"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," she wrote. "I tried to catch the mom's eye and give her an empathetic look, but she was too busy wrestling with her daughter to notice me."
Despite the fact the little girl was completely losing her sh*t, Katie remarked that the woman was "doing everything 'right'" as far as she could see.
"She remained calm. She spoke to her child in a gentle, reassuring tone. She was as attentive as she could be while also attempting to pay for her assortment of $10 tees and seasonal decor," said Katie. "But despite her best efforts, the meltdown only got bigger and bigger. The mum still stayed calm, but I noticed her cheeks were very flushed as she apologized profusely to the cashier."
"Empathy instead of judgment. Support instead of silence. Community instead of isolation. This is the parenting revolution."
Although Katie wanted to assure the fellow mother that she was doing a great job, she felt hesitant to approach a stranger who clearly had her hands full.
"Say something kind to her, I thought," said Katie. "She's embarrassed and alone and feels like a terrible mother. Remind her that none of those things are true. But then I thought, no, it's none of your business. LEAVE THE POOR STRANGER ALONE."
Eventually, Katie made up her mind and caught up with the other mum in the parking lot.
"I took my time on the way out," she said. "The girl continued screaming at the top of her lungs all the way to the parking lot. She fought fiercely as her mum strapped her into her car seat . . . 'Sorry to bother you, but I just wanted to say you're doing a great job.'"
In the moment, the struggling mum completely broke down: "She looked up at me, blinked twice, and then visibly melted," wrote Katie. "Tears started streaming. 'I think I feel as bad as she does.' I nodded [and said], 'I know it doesn't feel like it now, but you are rocking this.'"
The stranger's reply made Katie's efforts completely worth it: "'You have no idea how much I needed to hear that.' I did though. Every parent does," said Katie.
Katie has some advice for people who want to help parents who are having a hard time: just say something nice.
"So let's start saying it. Let's take the risk. That mum could have looked at me funny. She could have told me to mind my own business," said Katie. "But I took the chance and we are both better for it. Empathy instead of judgment. Support instead of silence. Community instead of isolation. This is the parenting revolution."