This Monday, a 61 year old Wal-Mart shopper got so frustrated with someone else's crying toddler that he slapped the child. Unbelievable, but true. The gentleman was restrained and arrested for felony cruelty to children. Which seems appropriate.
Of course, every person has been in his shoes - a screaming child in a store, on a plane or any other enclosed space can test your patience. And every parent has been mortified when they cannot get their toddler (or worse, non-toddler, non-baby child) to stop screaming. Obviously, it's inexcuseable (and generally ineffective) to slap the child into silence. But what can you do?
First - parents need to take precautions to head this off at the pass. If your child is over-tired, hungry or dirty - help them succeed by helping them address their needs prior to enclosing them.
Second - parents have to stay calm. Which is nearly impossible when you are mortified and furious. But our children do feed off our emotions - so take a deep breath, count to 10 slowly, and then address your child and, if they are young, redirect their attention (here's a ball/doll/balloon). If they are older, ask what is upsetting them and make a deal if they calm down. That said, if they are screaming the gimmees (Mommy, I must have that toy), do not cave. We tell our children that we will put it on their birthday/holiday list. And we do it. They learn delayed gratification and we head-off a tantrum.
Sometimes nothing's going to work. Sometimes they're not going to calm down.
So then - the third step (which is not throttle, muzzle or other silencing technique) - change the environment. Stop shopping and leave - you can get it later. Move to the bathroom on a plane. We flew cross-country on a red-eye in the bathroom - switching off holding our screaming 18 month old. Last red-eye we flew with children - seriously.
The gentleman who slapped a child was way out of line. So are parents who don't calm their child or remove a screaming child from an enclosed space.
Other people have suggestions too - check them out: