Hey mamas, can we talk about public temper tantrums?
At some point in your toddler’s short life, they are not going to agree with you and have a complete meltdown. Like, a lot of times. And when it happens in public, the stakes become higher. They just HAVE to have that candy bar. Or you’ve been out for 2 hours with no end in sight. You start getting the side eye and hear the whispers, “Such a bad mom…can’t she control her child?” You start wishing you could just melt into the floor and disappear. Oh, just me? Yeah, I didn’t think so. When you encounter a public temper tantrum, there a few ways for you to approach it to help your child calm themselves down and go on having a good day. At least until the next time.
How To Manage A Public Temper Tantrum
Don’t Match Their Intensity
It’s easy to get worked up when your child starts screaming and all eyes are suddenly on you. There’s this pressure to not bother the other shoppers, but you know how to control your emotions and your child doesn’t. And if they don’t want to hear a child going bananas, they definitely don’t want to hear ANOTHER person shouting. Your child needs you to be calm while they are working through them. Don’t worry about the other people around and focus on helping your child.
Speak In A Calm, Quiet Voice
As I said, your child needs you to be calm with them. In addition to attracting more attention, it might cause your child to dig in and have more of a temper tantrum. When you speak in a calm voice, it forces them to calm down in order to hear you. Then you can continue speaking with them without other patrons hearing the whole discussion.
Do Not Give In
Under any circumstances. If you give them what they want just to quiet them down, you have now taught them that’s how they get things. It will reinforce the behavior for the next time they want something. Maybe they will just have to have a temper tantrum a little longer this time. But they have now taught YOU how to behavior when they go crazy.
Avoid The Tantrum To Begin With
I know what you’re thinking. “Of course I want to avoid the tantrum, DUH!” But being in tune with your toddler’s feelings can help. Toddler temper tantrums usually happen if they are hungry, bored, tired, or overstimulated. If you can avoid shopping with them when they are in one of those states, take advantage. Otherwise, you can bring snacks (just to hold them over if you are at a restaurant) or help them take a nap. When they become overstimulated, try to do an activity with them that helps them focus on you and not on all the outside noise. One way to do that is by singing a song with them.
Give Them A Choice
A good way to prevent the temper tantrum is to let them be involved when making a decision. If they don’t want what you are planning to make for dinner, offer them a choice between two foods you are willing to make. Grocery shopping? Let them help pick out which kind of soup to get. It lets them feel like they are part of the process and not just subject to whatever Mom and Dad decide. Keeping them involved will make it less likely that a public temper tantrum will occur. They need to feel more independent and less like you are controlling everything for them.
Before you go anywhere, have a sit down with your toddler. Let them know what you are planning to do and how you expect them to behave. Explain you will not be purchasing anything extra they might want, but again let them know they can be involved in some decisions, like choosing the cereal they want.
Just Say No
You know that regardless of your preparation, there will be SOMETHING they find that they just can’t live without. Stay strong and remind them of what you agreed upon before going as well as the choices do get to make if they behave.
Use these outbursts as a way to reconnect with your child. They can’t really express how they are feeling just yet and this is the only way they know how. By being there for them and letting your child know you are not the enemy, you can give them the attention they are craving.
So, remember, don’t match their intensity because it will exacerbate the situation. Speak in a calm, quiet voice so they know they need to match your level. Try to avoid having the toddler tantrum to begin with by making sure they aren’t tired, hungry, bored, or overstimulated. When you prepare them, let your child know that they can be involved in some decisions, but that you don’t plan on purchasing anything extra that they find. And stay firm in your decision. Giving in might seem like an immediate solution, but then your child knows this is a useful way to get what they want.
Try keeping them occupied and redirect them when they start to get antsy. I don’t suggest this for every time (especially if this is what they are screaming for), but letting them play a game on your phone/tablet works wonders.
Public temper tantrums are pure torture and extremely embarrassing, but sometimes unavoidable. If you are unable to calm them down, don’t be afraid to leave what you were doing to take them out of the environment you’re in. It lets your child know that you will not be giving in to their demands and that the temper tantrums are not working.
So let me ask you. What have you done during a public temper tantrum that has worked for you? Actually, tell me what hasn’t work for you, too. Then we can all learn what NOT to do. Share your best tips in the comments!