Beth Bornstein Dunnington was at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday waiting for her flight to Portland, Oregon, when the most incredible thing happened. At the terminal, as another flight was boarding, she watched a toddler have a complete meltdown—we're talking running between the seats and full-on kicking and screaming. At one point, he plopped onto the ground and refused to board the plane.
"His young mom, who was clearly pregnant and traveling alone with her son, became completely overwhelmed," Dunnington wrote in a Facebook post that went viral over the weekend and gave us all goosebumps.
Something extraordinary at LAX today... (writing this on the plane). I was at the gate, waiting to get on my plane to Portland. Flights to two different cities were boarding on either side of the...
The mom couldn't pick up her son, who continued the cycle of kicking, screaming and lying down on the ground.
"The mother finally sat down on the floor and put her head in her hands, with her kid next to her still having a meltdown, and started crying," Dunnington recalled.
Imagine the frustration and isolation the mom must have felt to fly solo with a toddler who was flipping out even before they were 35,000 feet in the air. Imagine the stares and glares she could have gotten (and honestly, probably did get). Heartbreaking, isn't it?
Traveling with young children can push even the most prepared parent over the edge. It can be so stressful that some parents have even confessed to giving their toddlers sedatives to keep them quiet, or opted to bribe fellow passengers with goodie bags to keep adults quiet.
But instead of huffing and puffing, eye-rolling or complaining, a group of about six or seven women who didn't know each other came together to help the struggling mom. They knelt in a circle around the mom and tot. Whether it was offering an orange, a toy, giving the mom a bottle of water or helping get the kid's sippy cup out of the mom's bag (Dunnington herself sang "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" to the boy), everyone did what they could to support her.
"It was so gorgeous, there was no discussion and no one knew anyone else, but we were able to calm them both down, and she got her child on the plane," Dunnington wrote. "Only women approached. After they went through the door, we all went back to our separate seats and didn't talk about it. We were strangers, gathering to solve something. It occurred to me that a circle of women, with a mission, can save the world. I will never forget that moment."
We're bawling just thinking about how amazing these women are. They just knew what to do, and with some sympathy and compassion, they went out of their way to help a stranger and show her that she was not alone.
I recently wrote about why we should be grateful when our little ones throw a tantrum. But aside from understanding that a tantrum is normal and even healthy, what else can we do when we’re actually in this kind of high-stress moment with our kids? I don't believe parents should ignore a tantrum. When children are truly out of control, that’s when they need us the most. We still need to set clear boundaries, but our response should always be full of love, respect and patience.
Here are seven suggestions for dealing with a toddler’s tantrum: