Woman Jailed For Dragging Kid on Leash

Filed under: Weird But True, Extreme Childhood, Opinions, Behavior: Toddlers & Preschoolers

You don't need to be a Mensa member to outwit a toddler.

Yet I feel a teeny bit of pity for Melissa Catherine Smith-Means of Gaylesville, Ala. She was arrested April 21 for first-degree cruelty to children. A video, now going viral, shows her dragging a leashed child on the ground through a store in Paris, Ga.

The 37-year-old woman has yet to go to trial for the charge, but she is getting pummeled in the court of public opinion. Aspersions are now being cast on everything from Smith-Means' character to the character of her fellow Southerners.

I reserve judgment.

We have a court system to determine what was really happening in that store -- and in Smith-Means' head. I can well imagine a mother who ran out of options. Perhaps she told a difficult child that he would either come peacefully or she would drag him out.

When I was a reckless young lad, my own mother threatened to wash my mouth out with soap if I dropped the F-bomb. Naturally, I did it anyway. Her bluff called, she had to follow through. I can still taste the Dial lather.

I suspect Smith-Means felt she had to make good on a threat or simply ran out of ideas, patience or both. Not an excuse, just an explanation.

With my own son, who's demonstrated his share of rebellious acts, I've never done anything as extreme as this woman did. But there are a good number of parenting moments with my mule-headed child that I'm glad were never captured on video. Dancing in the laundromat with underwear on my head while singing "I Feel Pretty" is just one example. But it certainly got his attention and stopped him in his tracks. Psychological torture is always more effective -- and fun -- than brute force.

This wouldn't work on a toddler. You have to be more creative. But, if parents take all of 10 minutes to read up on how to handle tantrums and the like, it would spare them stress and, as in the case of Smith-Means, jail time and national embarrassment.

If this child was acting out, do you think the end really justified the Means?


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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.