Child Tantrums - How to Deal With Toddler Meltdowns in Public

Child Tantrums – How to Deal With Toddler Meltdowns in Public

You just have to remember that there isn’t anything to be stressed out about. I know that in recent years parents have been made to feel responsible for every single thing their children do, but in reality, your child’s behavior is often NOT a reflection on you.

Toddlers have tantrums. They are demanding. As the parent, you aren’t the reason your kid has a tantrum and there’s actually very little you can do to prevent your kid from going through this phase. So, don’t stress out. Stay calm. Ignore anyone around you who stares, sighs, makes snide comments or implies that your child is spoiled. Try not to feel embarrassed.

If you can let go of these kinds of feelings, you can focus more on minimising the tantrums and helping to put a quick end to this normal phase of child development.

A toddler with tantrums is one thing; an older child with tantrums is a whole different ball game. To ensure this behaviour doesn’t trickle past toddlerhood, tackle it early.

Firstly, avoid putting your toddler in situations where a tantrum is more likely. Avoid running errands when your child is tired or hungry. Break up errands so that you aren’t spending hours with your toddler confined to a car seat, stroller, or shopping cart. 

At home, make sure your child is getting enough sleep, sticks to a regular routine most of the time, and gets plenty of activity. Limit television and other screen time. Let your child make small choices when possible. For example, “Do you want to wear the blue shirt or the green? Do you want apples or pears with lunch?” Allow for extra time between transitions; toddlers don’t like to suddenly stop what they’re doing to eat, sleep, or leave the house. Give him a few minutes’ warning time. If you see your child starting to get angry or frustrated, try to talk him through it. Help him learn words for how he feels and give him acceptable ways to express himself. Use distraction, hugs, and positive reinforcement to try to prevent the tantrum. Often, children have meltdowns because they cannot express themselves yet.

If your child’s tantrums come from being told ‘no’, find a way to say no without actually using the word no. You’re in a store and he wants the ice cream; say, “We’ll have ice cream at Grandma’s house tomorrow,” or whatever else works. If he wants a toy, tell him he might get it for his birthday.

Despite your best efforts, tantrums will happen. Relax, and ignore it as much as you can. If you’re in a public place, you may have to take the child outside or to the car. If you have only one chance to finish your grocery shopping and simply can’t leave without toilet paper, let your kid sit in the cart and wail. This will annoy the other shoppers, but sometimes that’s just going to have to be what happens. Do your best to ignore the tantrum. Do not pay attention to the child and above all else, do not give in to what the child wants. The same goes for tantrums at home. As long as the child isn’t hurting himself or damaging anything, ignore the tantrum. Walk out of the room. If the tantrum involves screaming, put him in his room. Tell him, “You’re too loud and it hurts my ears. You can come out when you’re done yelling.”

If your child learns that having a tantrum means he’ll get his way, he will continue to use it as a tool and you’ll be stuck with tantrums long after the phase should have passed. Be patient, be consistent, and don’t give in to easy fixes that reward tantrums. If you feel stressed, remind yourself that winning this battle of wills now is much easier than when your child is 5, 12, or 17 years old.


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