children & psychology //

Children & Psychology // A Chance to Contribute

DenaAugust 26, 2015

children & psychology //

I couldn’t count how many times I’ve witnessed full-blown toddler meltdowns in public places. We’ve all seen one at one time or another, haven’t we? A toddler, or a child, doesn’t get his way — fueled by exhaustion, hunger, sheer frustration, who knows what — he starts to cry, then scream, then finally throws himself on the ground in a fit of hysteria. I never really got it. I would see the look of sheer desperation on a mother’s face, but I didn’t know just how awful it could feel.

Gratefully Roman hasn’t reached epic meltdown mode yet. I am told lovingly by other mothers that it starts to rear its ugly head closer to age 3. (Can’t wait!) However, I have had a taste of it on the handful of occasions that I had to take Marina into a store at the height of her “colic.”

children & psychology //

It was bad, really bad. I never had so many looks of sympathy or disgust shot my way in a single outing. Her blood curdling screams were enough to, literally, send people speeding off in another direction. Those brave enough to get close would cautiously offer inquiries– Is she hungry? Is it nap time? Is she cold.

She’s just “colic,” I would reply, my cheeks turning red. I would smile painfully and just keep going, desperate to get back into the car where Roman & I would once again be alone with her screams. One time it was so bad that the cashier was actually shaking while handing me my receipt.

Hopefully these little glimpses into “the humiliation of parenthood” will help to prepare me for what’s to come. Of course I will do my very best to mitigate public tantrums, behavioral training is incredibly important to me as a mother. I believe that children are capable of good behavior and should absolutely be held accountable. Still, outbursts are an inevitable — hopefully occasional — part of childhood.

children & psychology //

With that said, I’d like to introduce an important study that is currently being conducted by Kayla Landis, an undergraduate who is doing research with her adviser, Dr. Nicole Overstreet, in the Psychology Department at Clark University. Her study focuses on how parents perceive other parents whose children behave disruptively in public spaces. This could include verbal outbursts, physical aggression, insubordination, etc. The study focuses on a scenario that is played out across several different conditions.

Things like this have had a spot in the news lately, especially with what occurred at that one diner in Portland, Maine and the diner owner’s reaction to the child and parents. Mental illness and childhood disability are also addressed in the study.

Studies like this are incredibly important, both to the parties involved in the research and also to the psychology community at large. This type of research is near & dear to my heart and I would be so grateful if you would take the time to complete the survey yourself.

children & psychology //

The study itself is anonymous and online. It contains a short scenario for participants to read, several short multiple choice questions about the scenario and other parenting aspects, and one short open-answer prompt. If you wish to provide your email address (which will remain completely confidential), you will be entered in a raffle to win either one $200 Visa gift card, one $100 Visa gift card, or one of four $50 Visa gift cards. Email addresses will be deleted after all winners are drawn and all cards are distributed.

* * * Click here to take the survey. * * *

children & psychology //

Feel free to contact Kayla at or her adviser, Dr. Nicole Overstreet, at if you have any questions.

This post is in partnership with Clark University. As always, thank you for taking the time to read & support my blog.

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