Riding the rollercoaster of kids’ emotions, temper tantrums, and drama are nothing new to most parents. Many deal with it by ignoring the tantrum, while trying not to ignore the child or the reasons behind the outburst. Some send the child outdoors and allow him to scream, run, and vent the anger. Others choose to leave the room themselves, removing the audience for the child’s performance. These methods are possible when you are at home, but what do you do when you’re in the store, at church, or visiting family for the holidays, and the inevitable tantrum erupts? How can parents handle a child’s public meltdown? Try these suggestions.
• Be realistic. Think about how you feel when you’re overstressed or unable to sleep, and then multiply it by ten for a child still learning how to control her emotions. More ugly behaviors will occur when the child is tired, hungry, or stressed. Whenever possible, meet those needs before your public outing. It may mean leaving for your destination at a later time or going home earlier than you’d like, but it will reduce the likelihood of a public meltdown.
• Be clear about the rules ahead of time. Talk to your child about what is expected of her before entering the store, party, or other outing. Clarify the need to not wander in the store, speak in her indoor voice, whether or not she can eat the snacks at the party, and any other rules she needs to know.
• Remain the grownup in the situation. Resist the urge to engage in a power struggle with the child. The more attention you place on the tantrum the more likely your child will be to use the tactic again to get his way. Instead, keep your own temper in check, and calmly explain to your child that once he’s ready to speak nicely to you, you’ll be happy to listen.
• Allow the child to make some choices. Kids get frustrated when they feel everyone’s telling them what to do, and their opinions don’t matter. When frustration starts, temper tantrums aren’t far behind. Curtail unnecessary drama by giving your child the chance to make some small decisions. You may need to narrow down the options to choose from, but let the child have a say in things like what color cup he wants to drink from, what kind of cereal to buy, or whose hand to hold in the parking lot.
• Remove the child from the location where the tantrum began. It’s often best to take the child out of the store or room where the tantrum took place. Sometimes simply walking the child outside for a few moments or going to a quiet room with her, serves as a distraction and provides the opportunity to calm down. Use your judgment. There may be occasions when the child is inconsolable, and you must be prepared to leave and take the child home.
• Breathe and remember that it will pass. Above all, remember to take deep breaths and remain calm even when your child is not. Make sure your child is not endangering himself during his outburst (like throwing his fit in the middle of the street or while standing on top of something he could fall from), and know that he will be fine. Even though it may seem longer, the typical temper tantrum only lasts for about five minutes. It will end, and both you and your child will survive it.
Parents Share Tips for Handling Public Tantrums by Highlights
Shopping with Your Children by Prevent Child Abuse
Temper Tantrums by the Raising Children Network
Tips for Shopping With Your Children by Kids Source