Public Toddler Tantrums – What to Do?

One of the biggest issues for parents with toddlers who tantrum is how to deal with the tantrums while they are in public. While some parents can stick out the tantrum and deal with it as they would at home, many more are embarrassed and find it difficult to implement the same procedures as they would normally. There are two issues here ? how to avoid public tantrums (without giving in to your toddler’s every demand) and how to deal with any tantrums that do happen.

Avoiding Public Tantrums

Teaching your child how to deal with situations in public that may cause a tantrum is a big part of the battle. It may seem that, for some toddlers, being out in public generates more tantrums than they would have in the home (some even reserve all their tantrums for a specific place, commonly supermarkets!).

Teaching your child about how to behave in public can be difficult, especially when your little one is a toddler ?younger children have less understanding of what is appropriate and not appropriate in public. So they don?t know that they cannot run around wherever they choose in the supermarket. They are frustrated when you punish them for doing things they are allowed to do at home. Before you punish any behaviour, make sure your child understands that what they are doing is unacceptable. Teach them how to behave in public and you will lessen the frustration they feel when they act up when you are out.

Don?t Give In!

The big mistake that many parents make is perfectly understandable ? they let the toddler off the hook for bad behaviour or tantrums because dealing with it in public is embarrassing. Think about it this way ? what is more embarrassing; dealing with the tantrum in a way that teaches your child it is unacceptable, or having tantrum after tantrum when you are out because you placate the child instead of managing the tantrum. If you do give in to public tantrums, by giving the child what they want or pleading with them to stop (putting the power in their hands) you are setting yourself up for having to deal with more tantrums at home as your child tries to use their tried and tested tantrum to get what they want at home. So, don?t give in!

Be Firm

Essentially, what you need to do is to show your toddler than their behaviour does not work in getting them what they want. What do they want? It might be sweets or a toy or to leave the place you are at because of boredom or frustration, but it all essentially boils down to wanting your attention.

In some cases ignoring a tantrum or distracting a child has its place, but a certain level of empathy and understanding should happen first. For example when it’s time to come home from a play date, give your child a warning in advance that it will soon be time to go home. This should help to ensure that it isn’t much of a surprise when it is actually time to leave. If the child cries and protests when it is finally time to go home, give him lots of empathy and understanding.

He may still go on to have a tantrum and if that’s the case it may be time to ignore or distract him. Whilst ignoring him (for a short period), be sure to keep an eye on your child to ensure he doesn’t hurt himself. It might take a few minutes, and it might seem like ages, but your child should realise that the tantrum isn?t working and they will stop. Once you see that he has become more calm, give him a lot of positive attention.