The 10-year-old baseball players excitedly dug into the hotel’s continental breakfast, chattering about the upcoming tournament and how far they had come. In the back of my mind, I was worried. Because we had gone much further in the tournament than expected, we were going to miss our flight to our summer vacation destination. Between bites of pancake, he figured it out.
His eyes welled up with tears. He put down his fork and hid his face in his hands as he cried. Suddenly, the long table of boys became silent—and then they started to whisper. Do you know how to help a child deal with embarrassment? It’s bound to happen and your response and how you journey with them is going to set the stage. Here are 4 awkward situations and how to handle them.
1. Bathroom Accidents
When our kids are toddlers, we are usually prepared for these kinds of accidents, even out in public. But as our kids get older and the diaper bag goes to Goodwill, a bathroom accident can take us off guard.
First, just knowing that older kids can have an occasional accident is good to keep in mind. Don’t allow shock and anger (or your own embarrassment) to overcome you. When you see that the accident happened, just help him or her to get home as quietly and discreetly as possible. If it becomes a habit, here’s what you can do to help your child.
2. Starting a Period
Even though you may have packed your daughter a secret “period pack” in her bookbag, the day she actually starts her period may still come as a shock and go through her clothes. Have her keep a sweater in her locker or backpack for her to tie around her waist and remind her that the school nurse is there to help.
If you are out in public, get her promptly home. Avoid showing your emotions at all costs. Whether you feel excited for her, shocked, sentimental, or all of the above, put on your calm-mom face—your daughter has enough emotions to deal with already.
3. Having Body Odor
Somewhere around middle school, you will get a whiff of your child that will cause you to gag. Do not exclaim, “Man! You stink!” or “You need a shower!” in front of everyone. There is a very good chance he has no idea how he smells. In fact, if he’s playing with a group, they probably all smell that way.
In this case, let it go until you get home. Then have a chat about body odor. Tell him it’s normal and that it’s time to start showering every day and wearing deodorant.
4. Crying in Public
In the case of the baseball tournament breakfast, my son, who rarely cries in public, was simply overcome by his realization. I thought he would get himself together more quickly if I just left him alone—and he did. Just giving him a couple minutes with his head down was the least disruptive thing to do.
Knowing your child and taking a quick survey of the situation will help you to decide what’s best when it comes to crying, as each one will be a little different.
“Discreet” is the key word!
Did you notice a theme in each of these solutions? A parent needs to be discreet. Be careful about what you say and do; don’t let your emotions and words cause more embarrassment. As the proverb says, “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
Be wise, moms. Be the calming force. Your kids need you in these awkward moments.
How do you help your child get through awkward situations?