Child Therapist Validates Mom's Gentle Parenting at Walmart, Even When It's Not the Easy Way

This Redditor scored more than just a deal at Walmart—she won at gentle parenting and earned much appreciated praise when she guided her child through a meltdown.

Young child yelling at parent while holding shopping cart
Photo: Getty

If you score a parenting win and no one is there to witness it, does it still count? Of course, but it sure feels good when you receive praise for handling a tantrum without losing your cool. As one parent shared in a recent Reddit thread, Walmart was where their child's most recent meltdown took place—naturally. The original poster (OP) set the scene for readers, writing their daughter is obsessed with "magic sand," thus the trip to the store.

"But, she wanted to open the package and play with it right then and there, and I've been trying to teach her that we have to pay for things before we open them," the OP explained, adding, "She doesn't understand that concept yet. So of course, she started screaming and throwing a fit from the toy section all the way to self-checkout, which had somewhat of a line." That's where this rock star parent employed some gentle guidance.

"The whole time I was telling her in a calm voice 'baby, we can open it in the car; we have to pay for it first, then we can open it.' But like many kids, the child kept up the good fight.

"I wasn't too concerned about other people because I didn't care," the OP said, who admirably also had thought of some distractions for the daughter by then. She explained that every time a transaction was finished she would alert her daughter to the green light that lit up over a register." The OP would tell her child, "That light just turned green, I wonder which one will turn green next, do you know? Let's watch and see!" And to her amazement, it actually worked.

After paying for the sand, the OP shared that her child's tears ended and her mood turned to joy. That's when the story takes a validating twist, with the parent recounting, "As I was opening the sand, the lady who was in front of us came up to me and said, 'I'll tell you this because no one else will. I'm a child therapist and what you did… you did everything right. From talking to her calmly, explaining the rules, trying to distract her, everything you did was spot on, you're doing a great job.'" The OP added, about this affirming encounter, "It really meant a lot to me because gentle parenting IS NOT EASY!"

Parents everywhere can relate to how sometimes it's easier to just give up and leave the store with a challenging child. The OP even confessed that her father-in-law has said spanking is the best way to discipline kids who act out, much to the parent's chagrin. Of course, experts say spanking is never okay and can it lead to all sorts of problems for children, from emotional to psychological effects.

In this case, Redditors quickly stepped up to support the gentle parenting win and celebrate the recognition this Walmart warrior received. "I love when people butt in with positive feedback for once," applauded one commenter.

Many parents shared their own stories of successfully employing gentle parenting and how it won them praise. "We should all give encouragement and praise to mothers and kids, it really means a lot," someone said—and we must add that dads and parents of all identities need uplifting too!

More than anything, Redditors' faith in humanity was seemingly restored by the happy ending this tale of discipline provided. "Awesome parenting story," commented another Reddit user. "Stores are EXHAUSTING. Keep fighting the good fight, setting that example. Being the bigger person with the cooler head and kinder heart."

Another person added, "This post actually brought tears to my eyes! Thank you so much for sharing! And way to go, mama! You brag away! Sometimes it is so exhausting and frustrating to parent this way because we often believe that it isn't working or that we aren't doing it properly."

We're nodding, because for us, the takeaway is really that gentle parenting, calmly speaking to your child, and remaining patient (at least outwardly!) is sometimes a long game. But in the end, this approach is so worth it as your child will learn the best way to deal with challenges now and later in life.

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