Airing Your Dirty Laundry: Handling Public Toddler Tantrums

No parent likes to watch their child have a melt-down. It’s bad enough when it happens at home, but dealing with a tantrum in public can be a complete nightmare. Instead of becoming a hermit and refusing to take your tot out in public, you can develop effective strategies for dealing with this uncomfortable situation when it inevitably happens to you.

You Are Not Alone

It is easy to feel like every eye is on you when your child acts up in public. However, it is far more likely that the parents in the crowd are feeling sympathy. Almost every parent has dealt with this situation at one time or another, so don’t let the fact that you have an audience make you unduly uncomfortable. Keep your cool and you will handle the toddler tantrum much better.

Head it Off

The best way to handle a toddler tantrum is to avoid it in the first place. Before taking your child anywhere, make sure they are well rested, fed and that you are adequately prepared. It can help to have snacks to offer as you shop or play, as well as a sippy cup or water bottle, depending on your toddler’s age. If you know that your toddler is more prone to tantrums at certain times of the day, plan your schedule around the more volatile hours. Also, don’t be afraid to talk to your child about what type of behavior is expected before the situation arises. Knowing what to expect can help a toddler behave better.

Get Out of There!

If a tantrum does happen, it’s best to get out of the situation as quickly as possible. If this means leaving a packed grocery cart at the service desk or ditching a play date, do it. Removing the audience is often enough to get your child to calm down, not to mention the fact that it makes you more comfortable. Your own stress can exacerbate the situation, so get where you feel you can talk to your child and let them blow it off without all eyes on you.

While the tantrum is cooling down, avoid discipline, losing your temper or yelling, which tends to make things worse. Instead, let it play out. Once the tantrum is cooled down, you can talk about behavior expectations. Depending on the situation, either return to the interrupted activity or just go home.

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