Crying Child

Being in a plane with a child screaming to the top of their lungs is not only hard on the parents, but also on those around them. “She’s just throwing a tantrum, said the man sitting near me.  It’s her mother’s fault.” He said it loud enough for the young mother to hear the comment, too. The little girl making all the noise was about 18 months old, and no amount of consoling from her frazzled mother would soothe her.

Being in a plane with a child screaming to the top of their lungs is not only hard on the parents, but also on those around them. I was flying home from a conference in Atlanta and feeling really sorry for the young woman trying to get her child to stop crying. Just because you acquire the name, “Mom” doesn’t mean you always know what to do.  It’s too bad babies don’t come with a manual. Sometimes it is just hard to pinpoint exactly why they are crying. In this case I don’t think the child was throwing a tantrum.  There were three other children on the plane crying at the same time.  When the plane began take off, they were screaming uncontrollably, but then they settled down. A couple of hours later when the plane began to land those three children begin to cry again.

Dr. Mohammad Hussain, a pediatrician from the Valley Children’s Clinic in Harlingen said the children were probably experiencing a lot of pain in their ears. “When the child has a cold or is congested,” he said, the fluid in the middle ear tube (the Eustachian tube), that leads to the back of the nose and upper throat, doesn’t work or ventilate.  It becomes blocked and the pressure causes the child to feel pain.” This is called barotrauma, a condition of discomfort in the ear caused by pressure difference between the inside and the outside of the eardrum. ”

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The parents can help by giving the child a decongestant before they travel,” Dr. Hussain explained.  But if the parent doesn’t do that, the next best thing is to give a pacifier or bottle when the plane begins take off and when it lands.” In the case of the older child, Dr. Hussain said you should give him a piece of gum just as you would an adult to help to equalize the pressure. Planes are pressurized and the airline stewardess told me she noticed that this often affects children, especially when landing. The man’s comment only made the mother feel worse.  I know the noise was very irritating for him and the other passengers, but she was doing the best she could.  Sometimes it is easy to criticize people from a distance.   Hearing his comment directed at the young mother made me think of how women spend most of their lives feeling guilty for what they did or did not do for their children. Sometimes you just don’t know what to do.

There were times when our children were little that I didn’t know what to do.  They would cry or fight with one another or refuse to eat their meals, and I wished there were someone to call.   One of my goals, as a young mother with four children who were 18 months apart, was to one day invent a hotline for other young mothers. I could just imagine this red button on my phone.  When I didn’t know what to do, I would just press the button, and say HELP!  Then someone who had already been there would patiently tell me what to do. I didn’t exactly do that, but becoming a grandmother has been a pretty close counterpart to that hotline.


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Deana Landers
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Deana Landers has had many roles in life — Pastor’s Wife , Nurse/Health Educator, Writer and Motivational Speaker ... more