How to Handle Public Toddler Tantrums

Read about some useful tricks on how to avoid public toddler tantrums.

Your child has reached the status of a toddler and although life has gotten a bit easier in some ways with your child, he or she has now reached the age of reason. Your child may be talking with a full vocabulary before age two or might not be talking yet. One thing your child knows is the answer NO! by now. Sometimes your child doesn’t like the answer no, especially when you take your child out in public so they start to throw a temper tantrum.

How do you handle tantrums as parents? You get to the point where it’s easier to go shopping if you leave your child at home with a caregiver because the tantrums are a bit too much for some parents to cope with. This might work for a while but eventually, you have to teach your toddler that throwing temper tantrums in public is not acceptable. You are not alone because all parents have experienced their child throwing temper tantrums in public. Here are some tips to defuse a child’s tantrum in public.

Keep Your Cool

Keep calm and try not to react because one of the most effective ways to diffuse a tantrum is to remain in control of the situation. A negative reaction might teach your child that this is an acceptable way to get your or your spouse’s attention. A parent doesn’t want to send their child that message. The best way to react is the opposite of what the child is expecting. For example, you can smile and become silly or talk to them and try and make the child laugh. This doesn’t always work for all children but it’s a good way to start.

Ignore the Audience

Focus on your child and don’t worry about the people around you watching how you react. Ignore everyone except your child, and try to get down to their level to connect with your child. You can try to validate the child’s feelings because this seems to help break the tantrum and allows you as the parent to redirect the child’s actions or find a solution together.

Give your child a task because once you are able to reason with your child, giving the child a task is a good way to get through the rest of your public outing. You can ask them to help you count how many pieces of fruit that you need and have the child put the fruit in the bag. If you are at a doctor’s office you can either help them play with the toys and use their imagination with them or find something of yours that the child can organize.

Try the Diplomatic Approach

Try not to say “NO” because the majority of tantrums occur when the child doesn’t get their way or get what they want. Don’t set high expectations when you take your child out because their moods can change very quickly and cause you some despair.

A good strategy is to delay the request if your child is asking for something. You can always say that’s a great idea but let’s get our groceries for dinner first before we eat any treats. You can offer your child the option of choosing one treat for later or if they still are pouting, just tell them that they won’t get anything. This usually is a good way of solving the problem.

Consider saying “Yes” depending on the question, you might be able to consider the child’s request if the request is within reason. Don’t give in to your child if they are begging and whining for special treats. You are going to put yourself in a bad position for future outings if you give in.

There are always requests from children that are really simple and maybe it’s as easy as asking if they can ride in a different area of the cart or get the special child cart? That is a reasonable request if it’s safe before entering the store because if no one is getting hurt, you are preventing a tantrum.

Walk away and try it again another day is sometimes the best way to simply end the outing and call it a day. Finally and most important remember that you need “me time” and organize a night out or a date with your partner, or even watch a good movie on TV.

Preventing Future Tantrums

Tantrums are every parent’s nightmare because you feel that all eyes are on you to see how you are going to react. You’re in the driver’s seat and you can actually deal with these tantrums the right way, and remain positive. You can also use the techniques you learned to prevent these tantrums from happening.

Tantrums can be prevented before you even leave the house with your child. If tensions start to rise and a tantrum seems imminent, you can nip it in the bud. The worst that can happen if your child has a full-blown temper tantrum in public and there are supportive ways of handling these tantrums. Take a closer look at how to deal with these tantrums, and especially the ones that happen in public, because the spotlight seems directly on you.

If your toddler is a bit older, you can tell them what your day is going to consist of. Tell your child that you both have appointments or errands to run and either they can bring a few toys or play with the toys at the appointment or the grocery store. Some grocery stores actually have childcare centers that are free so you may shop and your child won’t be bored. Just remind them that the toys belong to the places you are going unless they choose to bring something of their own.

Final Thoughts

Children are like us and they want to know what to expect. They have to be told every single time, even if they were just at the same place a few days ago. This may seem repetitive and tedious at times, but not telling your child what’s going on is a good way to trigger off the tantrums. Sometimes all you have to do is stop and give your child a little attention. If they are bored with the outing, you can say you are bored as well but these errands have to be done. A quick hug works wonders as well.