Tough Love Parenting at Hollywood Studios

Posted in Blog | 10 comments

temper tantrum, parenting at Disney World, meltdown


This is a picture of SuperBoy last Monday in Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort.

No, he didn’t fall and hurt himself.

Amidst screaming, ranting and yelling while I directed him to a less people laden location, SuperBoy threw himself on the ground in one grand finale meltdown.

I struggled with posting this picture, which I snapped to show him in our post-meltdown breakdown.  I don’t ever want to embarrass my child, but a picture is worth a thousand words, right?

Tired, hot and dealing with a dad who was also tired and hot…. I had been waiting for this meltdown to occur.  I was prepared.  I had a plan of action. I knew I would carry out our normal melt down protocol right there in the middle of Disney …. so that SuperBoy would continue to learn how to bring himself out of these situations…and so that he would know that even in the most magical of places…. I will not tolerate that behavior.

It was harder than I thought.

I felt sorry for him.  The kids really had been holding up amazingly well.  This was day SIX …and the first sign of major meltdown.  I thought we would see it by day TWO.  This was not a melt down brought on by selfish desires, it was pure over stimulation on ten different levels.

I was embarrassed.  Horrified, actually.  Part of his melt down routine is to yell and scream about how I’m hurting him when I place my hand on his arm to remove him from a situation.  He stayed true to form and screamed and  yelled, loudly, in Hollywood Studios, that I was hurting him and to “Please just LET. ME. GO!”

The most awful part of this whole situation?

The judgmental looks and scoffs I got from the parents around me.  Parents who apparently have angels for children, or are only on day ONE of their trip.  When I removed SuperBoy from the Muppet 3-D attraction I took him to what was the most remote area I could find in the immediate vicinity.  One mother sitting across the street from us (reading a book while her baby apparently slept in the stroller) shot me a dirty look, huffed and puffed and then moved up the street and complained to the strangers around her about “some parents”.

The older couple that had been sitting next to her did not move, watching us without even pretending to look away, shook their heads and whispered to each other.

When I see other parents suffering the trials of a child melting down I either give them the silent, knowing and supportive nod … or I inwardly smile and breathe a sigh of relief because it was them….and not me.  Most of the time I do both.

Part of my strategy for addressing these melt downs is to simply be in his space, but to be silent.  I let him scream and yell and fuss….until he can pull himself together.  We’ve tried talking, we’ve tried rationalizing.  He’s old enough to know those words by heart … he needs to be able to soothe himself.  When he is ready I will hold, rock, hug and kiss the daylights out of him …but not until he has calmed himself down.

As I sat on the curb waiting for him to pull it together a mom walked up and looked at me with disdain (I really don’t think I’m exaggerating)…then went to SuperBoy and asked him if everything was okay…if he needed help. (?!) He looked at her, very confused, then continued on his tirade.  I looked her squarely in the face and said “He is over stimulated, overly tired and having a temper tantrum.  He’s six, he’ll get over it.”

I half expected someone to call the authorities on me.

After half an hour (yes, half an hour) SuperBoy pulled himself together.  We went on with our day and enjoyed the rest of Hollywood Studios.

During his meltdown I was encouraged greatly by the support I received on Twitter from my fellow Disney Social Media Moms parents…. reminding me that Disney World is the meltdown capital of the world (for kids AND grownups!).  It also served to remind me, yet again what a great group of people I had the opportunity to meet and spend time with during this phenomenal event.





  1. Thank you so much for this post. I have had similar experiences in grocery stores and at parks when I am use tough love with my children. You are a great example of a mother who truly loves her children.

  2. Well that is really kind of you :) A friend of mine says “It’s EASY to know what to do to be a good parent….it’s HARD to follow through” …these are those moments!

  3. Thank you for being brave enough to post this experience. I have a son, same age as superboy, who on the autistic spectrum and when the routine changes or he has too much sensory stimulation – a meltdown occurs. Things are gradually improving as he gets older and is able to regulate himself better. Poor superboy…but good on you for putting him before public opinion. BTW I came via your great last post about the seat belt pillows that I keep seeing all over Pinterest. Excellent idea and thanks for the humorous tutorial.

  4. Thank you! We actually sat with SuperBoy’s therapist (which is more of a private parenting class to be honest) before we left and mapped out a “what will we do if” for our trip so that SuperDad and I were on the same page and we weren’t thrown off guard.

    I figure judgmental people like this are karma’s way of reminding me of how quick to judge I was before I had kids…heck…when I only had ONE kid!!

    Thanks for reading!

  5. Jen,
    I’m so glad you posted this! I got a good laugh out of it because my youngest is the same way!! It makes me furious to see other people giving me dirty looks and looking horrified at the shrieking that usually is a large part of the meltdown. While I’m SURE their children were/are angels! I’m sure they’d be doing no better had they been put in that situation in that particular place with that particular child. My little monster actually had ALL of the dentist office staring us down, from the front office, all the way to the back personnel because of a meltdown a few weeks ago. She’s not two yet and I’m starting to wonder if she has ADHD… Your little guy did remarkably well for being on the SIXTH day!! Anyway, just wanted to let you know that I, for one, am VERY impressed with your composure in the situation and that you had a detailed plan and were consistent with it! :) (hope I can maintain that level at our next meltdown in public!)

  6. Also wanted to add–I, too, used to be judgmental to others, but more because it was obvious that the kid was having a meltdown as a source of control of the parent, usually for some material thing. I am a former teacher, have taught and interacted with children for many years, and am educated and experienced in behavioral management. My child is beyond the normal realm of kids acting out as they try to push their limits, etc. I am currently looking into dietary issues and more rigid forms of behavioral management. I am at the point of not doing errands some days simply to not have to take her out in public. Anyway, wanted to add that in, because I see these new ”permissive” parenting techniques that seem to do nothing but teach children to have zero respect for their parents, and don’t want you to think that’s where I’m coming from, lol!

  7. Jen, I thought for sure this was Eric!!! ha ha ha Reminds me of my oldest at times when he was about that age. Super funny pic. So good to see you at the LSA get together. Glad you’re feeling better. :)

  8. Thanks, Cindy. It was good to see you too!

    PS…I’ve always said SuperBoy was SuperDad’s mini-me….

  9. I didn’t think that at all :) Thank you for your kind words. I was lucky that a large number of my friends were in the parks that day since we were just on the heels of Disney Social Media Moms and I got a lot of support from them. I’m sure that added to the ill looks….kid throwing a tantrum…mom keeps looking at her phone. Oh well…grasp sanity where you can!

    We limit sugar with all of our kids and processed foods, we restrict red food dye with them all but ESPECIALLY with SuperBoy. I’ve also noticed that he is much quicker to dehydrate than the others and that almost always sets off a…um…”reaction”.

    Thanks for visiting!

  10. Hi Jenn, just found your blog and had to giggle about the disapproving looks you got. I live right outside WDW and I can assure you that tantrums can be heard and seen in any of the parks at ANY given time – and not always just from the kids! My youngest (who’s about to turn 7) used to throw tantrums and like you, I would just wait it out while he screamed. Drove my hubby crazy! But it’s impossible to reason with a screaming child, and why should we anyway? Silence and calm are much more effective.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>