Public Tantrum Survival Guide

It's 5:10 pm. You were supposed to be at the park to meet the babysitter 10 minutes ago. But you're stuck at the grocery store waiting in line after rushing in to grab "just a few things"... with the 3-year old. Shockingly, Susie kept asking for candy after you specifically told her NO MORE CANDY. You're feeling defeated because you caved and gave Susie your cell phone to distract her. You're fumbling through your purse looking for your wallet. You're in need of a shower—no, a spa day. The babysitter is trying to call.

So you instinctively pluck the cell phone from Susie's hands. You see her eyes dart from the phone to you. You watch her face turn red and her signature scowl form on her brow…

And you know exactly what kind of horrific meltdown is about to take place. Right here. Right now.

Sound familiar?

Public tantrums. If you haven't experienced your child have a meltdown in public, you've at least watched on as someone else's child did. You know the feeling of embarrassment as surrounding faces silently judge your hot-mess family as you frantically try to stop the screams, kicks, and tears (and the ones coming from your kid, too).

Here are some hopefully helpful tips when dealing with public tantrums:

Tip #1 Try not to worry too much about the people around you. Instead, focus on calming yourself and your child. Chances are, the people around you are less judgemental and more understanding than you think.

Tip #2 Remain calm. Imagine if you were exasperated and angry, tired and misunderstood, and began to scream or cry. Would it help if someone angrily told you to "just calm down!". Probably not. Without handing all the power over to your little one, you can calmly communicate to them that they are safe and seen. Try not to be passive aggressive. Speak slowly and clearly.

Tip #3 Distraction! Divert their attention with one of their toys, a drink of cold water, or a new conversation. See if you can get them to talk about something they love or hold onto something that comforts them.

Tip #4 Before Going Out Next Time:

  • Try going over the day's schedule with your little one so they know what to look forward to after a successful grocery trip.
  • Let them know they are welcome to pick out ONE treat or ONE toy during the trip, but that you can't get them more after that. You could even ask them to repeat back to you the "rules" of the grocery trip before going inside.
  • Above all else, make sure your little one is well fed and well rested before going out for the day. Bring snacks for the car and toys for the parts of the day that might be a bit more boring for them (sitting in waiting rooms or waiting for mom to finish talking to a friend).

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER is that you are not a bad parent if your child has tantrums and other children seem immune from them. This difference might just be because children are born with different temperaments. Some children are wired to react strongly to stimuli, criticism, or emotions. Some react with peace and others with confusion or fear. Keep doing your best. Parenting is a noble profession no matter the child.

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Wednesday, 22 September 2021

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